The battle for Stoke-on-Trent Central
Things are hotting up in Stoke-on-Trent Central in the battle to succeed Mark Fisher as the local MP. It's a safe Labour seat.
The favourite for the Labour nomination is probably Byron Taylor, national officer of TULO, the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation, which co-ordinates union support for the Labour Party.
Mr Taylor announced his candidacy on his own website two days ago. And how convenient, too, that a web-page posted by Mr Taylor on behalf of TULO organisation only the day before (Tuesday) shows him amongst a group of trade unionists campaigning in Stoke last Saturday against the BNP.
Another contender in Stoke is the historian Tristram Hunt, who is being strongly promoted by Peter Mandelson for a seat, but was defeated by the organised forces of Unite when he recently lost to John Cryer in Leyton and Wanstead.
But some local figures in Stoke are dismissive of the idea of a trendy middle class academic called Tristram mounting an effective campaign against the BNP in a strongly working-class seat. But then Mark Fisher was not only an Old Etonian, but also the son of a Conservative MP.
A more intriguing contender for Stoke-on-Trent Central is the left-wing former editor of Tribune, Mark Seddon, who tried for Stoke-on-Trent South some years ago.
Another attempt, at Gower in South Wales some years ago, was thwarted by Labour's national hierarchy who regard him as too much of a trouble-maker.
But Seddon is considerably cheered by the fact that Gordon Brown told him at Michael Foot's funeral earlier this week that he should be in Parliament. Not that one should ever describe Seddon as the Downing Street candidate.
Meanwhile I hear that one of Mr Brown's Downing Street aides, Jonathan Ashworth, is hovering above the East Midlands in the hope - or expectation - that one of the area's MPs may announce a last-minute resignation.
He originally seemed to be pinning his hopes on Alan Meale in Mansfield, I'm told, but Mr Meale is staying put. Mr Ashworth's latest hope, I understand, lies with the Nottingham East MP John Heppell deciding to call it a day.
As the Prime Minister's deputy political secretary, Mr Ashworth may get something of a head start in being alerted to any new vacancies. By tradition, before Labour MPs announce they are stepping down, they seek a 15 minute audience with Gordon Brown in Number Ten, a kind of courtesy farewell visit.
Indeed so many Labour MPs have been visiting the Prime Minister for their 15 minutes of glory in recent weeks, that Mr Brown's diary secretary has had great trouble fitting them all in.