Rather than suffer political death by a thousand cuts - or resignations - has the time come for Gordon Brown to employ the ultimate sanction against the Blairite rebels? Here's today's column.
A few weeks ago, in the wake of the 'smeargate' scandal, I predicted that a bad result for Labour in the European and local elections on 4 June would cause all hell to break loose in the party over the ensuing 48 hours.
Well, it seems I was wrong on the last point. In the end, the party didn't even wait until the elections were over before plunging Gordon Brown's premiership into its worst crisis yet.
Labour was already facing a hiding on Thursday before the twin resignations of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears sent the government into near-meltdown.
And since one of the unalterable maxims of politics is that divided parties invariably get a hammering in elections, it is no great surprise that the results already look like being the party's worst ever.
The full picture won't be known until the Euro-election results are published tomorrow, with the very real possibility that UKIP and the Lib Dems may have pushed Labour into fourth place.
But with the Tories taking control of once-safe Labour councils such as Lancashhire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, the scale of the carnage is already becoming pretty clear.
Once again, the old campaigner is refusing to give in without a fight, reshuffling his Cabinet yesterday with just about enough ‘big beasts’ still onside to fill the vacant jobs.
But with Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell joining those who are no longer prepared to work for the Prime Minister, the odds on him surviving even the next week have lengthened considerably.
It is a mark of Mr Brown's extreme weakness that the resignation of a political pygmy like Ms Blears should have provoked the near-collapse of his administration on Wednesday.
Let's not forget that this is a woman who in recent weeks has been forced to pay £13,000 of previously unpaid capital gains tax on the sale of a second home refurbished at taxpayers' expense.
If she didn’t deserve to be sacked on the spot for that, she certainly should have been for the blatant disloyalty and opportunism of her “You Tube if you want to” attack on Mr Brown last month.
Perhaps foolishly, the Prime Minister decided to leave her in place until the reshuffle, giving her the opportunity to further display her lack of loyalty by stabbing him in the front 24 hours before a vital election.
Ms Blears' dramatic exit, though, pales into insignificance besides that of arch-Blairite Mr Purnell. Not only was he not going to be sacked, he was actually going to be promoted.
So far, the rest of the Cabinet has refused to follow his lead, with Defence Secretary and Barrow MP John Hutton making clear that his own decision to stand down yesterday was for family reasons rather than as part of a Blairite revolt.
Mr Brown’s survival now depends on how many backbenchers rally behind the standard of rebellion that Mr Purnell has raised, with an email demanding that Mr Brown step down circulating among MPs
Since Mr Purnell does not himself intend to stand for the leadership, the rebels are still in search of a candidate capable of gaining the 70 MPs’ signatures necessary to provoke a challenge.
The initial impact of the resignations has been to dramatically limit the scope of what Mr Brown was able to achieve with yesterday's chances.
It is pretty clear he wanted to replace Alistair Darling with Ed Balls as Chancellor, but such is Mr Balls' unpopularity among Labour MPs that in the end, Mr Brown had no option but to abandon the idea.
Also staying put is South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, despite reports that Mr Brown wanted to give his job for former Hartlepool MP Lord Mandelson.
Besides Messrs Darling and Miliband, the big winner is leadership heir-apparent Alan Johnson, promoted to Ms Smith’s old job at the Home Office, after her predecessor John Reid apparently ruled out a return to the role.
In some respects, it is possible to argue that the government has been strengthened as a result of this week’s events, with highly capable ministers such as John Denham, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper all earning promotions.
And both Messrs Balls and Mandelson get beefed-up departments, sharing between them the spoils of the short-lived and now-defunct Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills.
But while the reshuffle may have taken some of the sting out of the rebellion, it is unlikely to be the end of the story - especially if tomorrow's results turn out as badly as expected.
The rebel email is still doing the rounds. Labour's supporters in the national press are deserting the Prime Minister. And Ms Smith, Ms Blears and Mr Purnell still have the chance to make Geoffrey Howe-style personal statements to the House.
But the Prime Minister does have one weapon left in his armoury to use against the rebels - ironically the very course of action Tory leader David Cameron has been urging on him for months.
It is quite simply to call a general election. The party would then have no option but to call off all the plotting and rally round its leader.
Of course, Mr Brown would lose, but he would at least go down fighting at the hands of the electorate rather than at the hands of the Blairites, and he would at least earn the public's gratitude for the manner of his departure.
The logic is clear. If Mr Brown wants to be sure of leading the Labour Party into the next election, he should call it now.