Ever the optimist, my local MP. I'm afraid my own views on Mr Clarke are pretty similar to those of Rachel North and her father.
Charles Clarke's article in today's New Statesman isn't inhibited by the need to retain a seat in government like David Miliband's Guardian piece was, but there's scarcely any more substance.
"Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future", he says at the end of the introduction, before talking at length about the past and coincidentally reminding us that he played a significant part in it. Beyond calling for a change of direction (and indirectly for a change of leader) he proposes no direction whatever. "Many of us who were proud to be members of Tony Blair's government had differing approaches even then, and certainly propose differing prescriptions now." That's as maybe, but there's none of them actually prepared to put their neck on the line (least of all Charles Clarke) and give us a prescription right now be it good bad or indifferent.
Labour doesn't need a change of direction in the slightest, it needs a direction, period. Right now it's not only directionless, it's rudderless. Charles Clarke could have taken this opportunity to tell us the direction he was advocating but he didn't, and it's easy to see why. He's as constrained as Miliband was, it's just that he's got his eye more on the future. Either he's planning to run himself, and doesn't want to give any potential rivals the edge by showing his hand too soon, or more likely he's simply hoping to be part of whichever campaign turns out to be the winning one and find himself suitably rewarded as a consequence. Proposals of his own might just queer his pitch on that one, better just to knife Gordon, then wait until the lie of the land becomes a bit clearer.