Ah it's that time of year again when the press pack heads to the seaside to watch the political grandees in the Labour party try to kill each other in new and innovative ways.
Labour has been particularly good at the this over the last few years. It's all well and good talking about the Lib Dems falling out last week and washing their dirty laundry in public but actually at least most of that was about policy. Within the Labour party you get the feeling that most of the members of the current cabinet just hate each other. Not only that but there have been some distinctly personal attacks on the prime minister. Where, for example, did this nonsense about him living on prescription pain killers come from? And why on earth have there been stories about the possibility he might go blind in his one good eye? And more importantly, what the hell does that have to do with his ability to do the job? If David Blunkett could be home secretary why couldn't we have a blind prime minister?
Charles Clarke has managed to creep out of the woodwork once more to call for Gordon Brown to step down.........again......yawn!
Baroness Scotland has been caught out employing an illegal immigrant, Baroness Vadera resigns as a minister in Peter Mandelson's department and what of the dark lord himself? Well apparently he would consider working for a Tory government, because he is so patriotic, or so he wants us to believe - or is it that his thrist for power makes him so morally bankrupt he'll work for anyone. I'll leave that for you to decide.
This year's Labour party conference is different to last year.
Last year the prime minister had to give a make or break speech in order to stay in charge of his own party and therefore in charge of the country. There is little, if any, real chance that Mr Brown will now be toppled from the Labour leadership, whatever the latest polls suggest - and in case you've missed it this morning, ComRes reckon Labour would stand a better chance of winning the election if either David Miliband or Jack Straw were in charge. What does that mean in real terms? Well this - rather than the speech he gave last year - is the make or break speech.
It will be, like Nick Clegg's speech to the Lib Dem conference last week, a direct appeal to the nation, to the voters, to you. It has to be. It can't be anything else. The question is: will he be able to convince you to keep him in the job come the general election next May (well we think it's next May anyway)? I suspect it probably wont be. Iain Dale, attending a fringe event at the conference last night, made several parrallels between the Conservative party in 1996 and the Labour party of 2009. Most of these involved infighting between Cabinet ministers, a general lack of sense of direction and old warhorses trying to tell the press and the public that Brown, like John Major before him, is simply a very private man. Then there were the "personal attacks" on David Cameron, mostly involving Labour saying voters can't trust the man behind the smile in much the same way that the Conservatives used to attack Tony Blair. How long will it be before we see a Labour election poster that shows David Cameron with devil's eyes, he asked? And he's got a point. In fact, he put together a very persuasive argument.
I'm not saying it's over for Labour but this conference hinges on the party being able to gear itself up for a fight it might only half heartedly want and put on, at least, a show of unity that convinces the outside world it can carry on in government .
It worked for the Tories in 1992!