Just been idly browsing the Labour Party Rule Book (as you do). With the political situation as it is and many talking about Gordon Brown as if his time is almost up my thoughts have turned to what might happen if he does stand down.
Gordon Brown is an extremely proud man and I suspect if he stands down he could not bear the indignity of continuing to serve whilst his colleagues campaign to succeed him. Therefore I expect that he will cease to be PM immediately. If this does happen then the question becomes what happens next. Clause 4B.2e of the Labour Party Rule Book states:
Procedure in a vacancy
(i) When the party is in government and the party leader is prime minister and the party leader, for whatever reason, becomes permanently unavailable, the cabinet shall, in consultation with the NEC, appoint one of its members to serve as party leader until a ballot under these rules can be carried out.
Now it is not guaranteed but surely the obvious choice would be Harriet Harman. She is the only member of the cabinet with any sort of Labour Party derived democratic legitimacy for the role having been elected deputy leader in 2007. If this was to happen then as I understand it she would become Prime Minister, albeit only for a few weeks and thus be our second female PM following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher.
One thing that might scupper this is if she wanted to go for the job herself. In which case I expect the NEC would not allow her to fulfill the role she was campaigning to become permanent as it would give her an unfair advantage.
We could be in for some interesting times in the next few weeks....