Back in the day there used to be a series of TV adverts for Pot Noodles aimed at the student/New Lad market which basically sold them on the idea they were 'dirty' - i.e. something which everyone know was unpleasant and naff, sordid even, but hugely secretly desirable in an almost quasi sexual way.
I never liked Pot Noodles - but I have to admit that attempted Leadership coups affect me in exactly the way as those old ads attempted to stimulate their target audience. I know they're dirty and no good for me - they're not what I prefer to think of as the real politics of clashing ideas - but there is a horrible fascination. Especially when insiders like Hopi conclude that they're basically really, really badly organised and unprofessional.*
I have no idea whether the attempted coup will succeed in unseating Brown. But I'm fairly certain that it is the formal death of this government one way or another. If he survives the world knows he will be left looking out over the wreckage of PLP unity with a cabinet of restricted moral stature. If he falls Johnson or whoever will be faced with a surely irresistible demand for a swift general election plus the glowering presence of Balls and all the other Brown loyalists quietly awaiting their moment of revenge on the backbenches.
The dynamics of this remind me strangely of Gorbachev's overthrow: the party hardliners (read Byers, Milburn et al if the allegations of who's behind all this are correct) could mount a coup to unseat him but didn't have the cohesion or support to maintain themselves. Yeltsin (read Cameron, I suppose) sobered up enough to stand on a tank amidst a cheering crowd and that was that.
Ach. On reflection this stuff really does make me feel dirty. Why don't you go and read Boffy's crystal clear defense of the Labour Theory of Value - the first article on this to make me reconsider my rejection of it in almost thirty years - as a means of cleansing your palette.
Update: But, a-ha, Finkelstein says there are rumours that Brown stories are being embargoed till after the polls close at 10pm - and that a Minister is scheduled to resign at 10.01pm. So perhaps not quite so unprofessional after all? Or perhaps you simply can't mount a coup in a 'professional' way, as you really don't know who will react how in the critical moments....& that unpredictability, of course, extends to us poor bloody voters. I mean, my heart bleeds for Squirrel Nutkin:
" Ms Blears must have been shocked by the reaction to her decision to step down. Constituents lined up to bark uncomplimentary things on local television news programmes. Even party activists spoke of being stunned by the sudden turn of events...Portrayed as Gordon Brown’s ’smiling assassin’, it could well be Hazel Blears who is facing the firing squad. She now has to go before a meeting of her constituency party later this month to explain herself. There is already talk of a vote of no confidence."