I am not buying this "man of the people" ordinary bloke stuff from Alan Johnson. I just caught his interview on the Politics Show where he tried to make out that he has no ambition beyond his current role and is loyal to Brown.
The thing is, you don't get Alan Johnson's CV without having a driving ambition to get places. He worked his way up to General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union and was also on Labour's NEC where he was the only Union leader to support the abolition of Clause 4 (he must have had an eye on a parliamentary and ministerial career under Blair at this point surely - that shows ruthless ambition to break ranks and go against the grain of his fellow Union leaders). He was then selected for the safe seat of Hull West and Hessle. It is no mean feat to be selected for a safe Labour seat at the first time of asking. He is clearly a very smooth political operator.
His ministerial career has been pretty epic too having held 5 cabinet positions now in less than 5 years and steadily climbed the ranks to one of the 4 great offices of state.
In fact in many ways he reminds me of John Major. He too had an meteoric ministerial rise in the space of a few years and when Thatcher fell, despite similar protestations of loyalty up to that point he was able to throw his hat into the ring and appear to be the unity "man of the people" candidate. The parallels are striking with Mr Johnson now.
The thing he said during the interview that absolutely convinced me that this is game on is when he made clear that he has never mapped out his political path to number 10 on the back of a "fag packet" and he explicitly said "like Heseltine". Why else contrast yourself with Heseltine unless you want to appear to be positioning to do what he never managed, accede to Number 10?
He will be a formidable candidate if Brown falls in the next few days or weeks.