HUDDERSFIELD MP Barry Sheerman could bid to become a key figure in Parliament.
The veteran MP admitted he may consider mounting a challenge to become chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party – a post seen by some as a thorn in the side of the Prime Minister.
And the Labour MP said he believes Gordon Brown has one more chance to prove he’s the right man to lead his party into the general election.
In June, Mr Sheerman controversially suggested Mr Brown should face a secret ballot of Labour MPs at Westminster on the question of his leadership.
He said the Party had been damaged by events, such as the continued Afghanistan conflict and by the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber.
Now, on the eve of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Sheerman said critics of the Prime Minister would be watching carefully to see if he has understood what the summer of discontent has been about.
“If the Prime Minister on Tuesday makes a barnstorming speech where he does not repeat the kinds of cliches – for the many not the few, not the party of boom and bust..and all that – if he actually cuts through all of that and refocuses Labour after twelve years in government, refocuses us back to our original mission and goals, then I may feel different to how I did early in the summer.
“If he says this is what a Labour party into the 21st century is about and this is what we want to achieve for the British people, if he clearly states that in terms of values we all understand and the reason why we came into politics, then he has listened”.
Mr Sheerman, who is the chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Education, said there were rumours he was considering standing for the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
He said he would go to Brighton and assess the mood.
And he would be consulting his colleagues when Westminster business resumes in October.
“The Parliamentary Party needs a chairman who is the champion of the Parliamentarians and the backbenchers, not someone who simply does the bidding of the leader.
“It is unhealthy if there is too close a relationship between the Parliamentary party and No 10.
“I have been an MP longer than Gordon Brown, been in the Labour party longer than Gordon Brown.
“And I believe there is a responsibility to ensure the Labour Party is in good shape for the future”.
Meanwhile, a poll out yesterday suggested Alan Johnson is Labour activists’ preferred choice to take over from Gordon Brown as party leader.
Some 32% backed the Home Secretary to take over from the Prime Minister.
He was followed by backbencher Jon Cruddas on 18% and Foreign Secretary David Milliband on 12%.
Deputy leader Harriet Harman was supported by just 5%, in the ComRes survey carried out amongst Labour councillors.