Amid all the spurious nonsense that gets written about the Labour leadership, one or two articles occasionally stand out. Such was the piece by Martin Kettle in Saturday's Guardian in which he advocated a six-way contest for the Labour leadership along the lines of the one that took place in 1976 - the only other time in its history that Labour has chosen a new Prime Minister while in office.
Kettle's views on this subject have long been worthy of note on account of his close relationship with Tony Blair and evident dislike of Gordon Brown. If he is saying something, it is a fair bet that someone in the Blair inner-circle is thinking it.
To my mind, his call for a contest is all of a piece with the recent similar intervention by arch-Blairite Stephen Byers - an attempt to turn what should be a debate about policy into a debate about personalities.
This is to confuse two very separate issues. There is a genuine desire in the Labour Party, a genuine need even, for a debate over its future policy direction. But there is much less debate over whether Gordon Brown is the right person to take that forward, because the overwhelming view of the Cabinet, the PLP, the Unions and the Party as a whole is that he is.
For those with an interest in recent political history, the most interesting aspect of Kettle's piece is his analogy with the 1976 leadership election, in which Tony Benn, James Callaghan, Tony Crosland, Michael Foot, Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins all stood. He suggests that a contest between Hilary Benn, Gordon Brown, Peter Hain, David Miliband, John Reid and Jack Straw would have a similarly revitalising effect on the Government today.
Superficially, it's an attractive argument, and it would certainly generate a lot of excitement at Westminster and beyond. But there are three major flaws in it as I will seek to show.
First, it ignores what Kettle's would-be candidates have actually said on the record about the issue. Benn, Hain, and Miliband have all made it clear they are supporting Gordon Brown, and that they regard his claims on the job as superior to their own. Straw has said nothing but is widely assumed to hold the same view. Only Reid has stood aside from this consensus.
Second, the "Class of '76" were, with the possible exception of Foot, all true political and intellectual heavyweights with genuine claims to leadership. Two of them, Crosland and Healey, would make most people's lists of the Best Prime Ministers We Never Had. Only Brown among the current crop can boast anything like that sort of stature.
Third, there were genuine ideological differences between the candidates in 1976 which to an extent defined the contest. The party was deeply split between the Gaitskellite right represented by Crosland, Healey and Jenkins, and the Tribunite left represented by Foot and Benn. In the end it chose Callaghan in the middle as the best man to keep the two factions together. No such divisions exist at the top of the party today.
A contest, not least a six-way one, would be great news for the press, and for the wider commentariat. I am increasingly coming to the view that, for the Labour Party, it would be a pointless diversion.