Labour conference

The Labour conference is being held in Brighton this year, with Gordon Brown desperately trying to drum up party unity ahead of a historic general election.

The chances of a leadership bid are now small, due in no small part to the parliamentary timetable, which doesn’t give enough time for a contest.

But there is still considerable chance of rebellion. Charles Clarke launched an attack on the prime minister last week, urging him to cite health reasons as an excuse for stepping down.

And the controversy over Baroness Scotland’s continued employment has not necessarily been undone by Mr Brown’s decision to confirm she will stay in the post.

Observers and party members will be watching the leadership closely for signs of trouble, as the party heads into a vote before summer next year.

The prime minister has been given some encouragement by recent studies hinting at an economic recovery by 2010, however.