The withdrawal of Wee Dougie Alexander from Question Time tonight goes to the very heart of what is wrong with the Brown government. He has surrounded himself my pygmies. When a PM is in trouble he needs good strong people to come to his aid. Blair always had a Praetorian Guard of Reid, Falconer and their ilk. Brown has, er, no one. Not a peep has been heard from Ed Balls and Ed Miliband in the last fortnight. And no one trusted Wee Dougie to put in a good show on Question Time. His previous performances demonstrated a rabbit in headlights demeanour. he looked like a sixth former in a rather ill fitting suit. So while Blair would have led the charge over the top of the trenches and relied on his troops to follow him, Brown's instinctive reaction is to retreat into the bunker. Having ruled the Treasury like a tyrant, Brown's problem is that the Blairites no longer fear him. Expect them to exhume themselves from their collective tomb with increasing regularity.
Baroness Ashton (who she? you may well ask - she's Leader of the House of Lords) was put up after the BBC insisted that Alexander had to be replaced by a Cabinet Minister. I understand there were serious discussions in the higher echelons at the BBC about empty chairing Labour, but that would probably have led to what might be termed "consequences".
Finally, can we kill this preposterous spin that Baroness Ashton and others have come out with, that Wee Dougie had to attend to a family problem? He was pulled off the programme by none other than the top brass at Number Ten.
The last time this happened was about 18 months ago when Harriet Harman was replaced on Question Time on the night that her husband, Jack Dromey, revealed that he knew nothing about loans to the Labour Party. Now that really WAS a family problem...
And next week on Question Time... My Little Chipmunk! If Number Ten tried to ban her from going on I have every confidence she'd tell them were to go. Or at least gnaw at their nuts... If they had any.