I doubt whether Brown will carry out a reshuffle before the second week in September. If I were him - now there's a horrifying thought - my main priority would be to stuff my Cabinet with grown ups. I'd want to appoint people of stature who the public can relate to in a positive way. And I am not talking about the ludicrous Stephen Byers. Old enmities have to go out the window. Patrick Hennessy, a canny observer of these things, speculates that Peter Hain might be brought back, assuming the CPS doesn't charge him. It's a good suggestion as Hain has always been a competent performer and a safe pair of hands.
Of course there is a danger that too many sackings and moves will be construed as signs of panic by the increasingly virulent Westminster lobby. Headlines about a 'night of the long knives' are not what Team GB needs.
I would suggest that Brown will try to bring back Alan Milburn (possibly as Chancellor), Charles Clarke, Peter Hain and Margaret Beckett. He will probably try to woo John Reid, but I doubt very much whether he will have any success. He should forget any thoughts he may have of rehabilitatin Byers. That would smack of scraping the barrel. I also think he should promote Liam Byrne and Tony McNulty.
And as for who he might despatch, well, it's not immediately obvious to me who he would be able to knife. Most of them are his allies... Does he really have it in him to sack Ruth Kelly, Douglas Alexander, Yvette Cooper or Ed Balls? The answer is no, with the possible exception of Kelly. Des Browne and Paul Murphy are two who could be chopped without any serious consequences. And he may, perish the thought, oust a couple of Blairites like Hazel Blears (sob, sob) and John Hutton.
They key to this whole game is David Miliband. Which is why he won't be moved. If Brown wanted to move Miliband and he refused it would then be game on for the Labour leadership and game over for Gordon Brown. Miliband has only been in the job for just over a year and it would be very odd to move a Foreign Secretary after such a short time. In theory, the only place he could be moved is to the Treasury, which would be seen as a promotion. But Miliband has never shown any sign of relishing the thought of such a move and in present economic circumstances it's not a job where he is likely to enhance his reputation. And we all know who is the real Forst Lord of the Treasury, don't we?
Chancellor of the Exchequer is not a job many politicians would turn down, but David Miliband just might. Although I do not believe he wrote his Guardian article with the intention of provoking leadership speculation in the way that it did, he must know now that if he funks it now, his time may have come and gone. Although he has infuriated some of his colleagues, he has become, almost overnight, the heir apparent. When he gets back from his Minorcan holiday, his every move is going to be watched. If he has any sense he will keep his counsel until the reshuffle.
And then he can play his Joker.
Graphic Hattip to Beau Bo D'Or