One of the strangest things about Gordon Brown's premiership has been the fact that at the time when Blair stepped down and Brown took over there wasn't a single person in the Parliamentary Labour Party who apparently thought they would do a better job - but ever since he took over there has been virtually non-stop talk of challenges and potential candidates being put forward.
First it was Milliband, then Balls, Harman and Johnson. There may be one or two I missed - and I may not have got it in the right order - but one thing stands out about that list.
There isn't a single decent politician among them.
Milliband was hotly favoured at one time, but his lamentable performances as Foreign Secretary have demonstrated to most that he is wholly unqualified for even that post let alone the Prime Minister.
Balls looks increasingly like a startled rabbit in his role in education. You'd think one of the qualities required for being in charge of education would be to have had some yourself - Balls stuttering and spluttering reveals that out of his comfort zone he really is lacking.
Harman ... well, I could go on all day about Harman. She's proven herself to be crap at every thing she has ever done. Not only does she get trounced by opposition spokesmen in parliament, but her appearances on BBC Question Time demonstrate that she routinely gets flustered and beaten in debate by 18 year olds from Barnsley. A PM who can't hold their own in an argument with a spotty teenager isn't likely to have much joy against the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.
Which leaves Johnson. Alan Johnson is as mediocre as they come, but the quality of parliamentarian he is up against today is so low that he actually stands out as one of the shining lights of the Labour Party and a potential leader. What does that tell us about politics today?
When I peruse the front benches of the modern political parties, I can not help thinking that there are very few who would be there on merit thirty years ago. It's a compliment to the Tory Party that most of the few there are come from the opposition. Cameron, to give him his due, could probably make it as minister in one of the smaller departments. Hague is the only one who I think could make it in one of the top jobs - maybe even PM. Beyond that there is the amiable (if not especially capable) Vince Cable from the Lib Dems and ...... that't it.
The rest would have struggled to get noticed in politics thirty years ago or so - and those from that era were hardly the greatest bunch we've seen! For me, it's one of the most troubling aspects of our political landscape today - the almost complete lack of quality politicians. Yes, I know that is something of an oxymoron, but there always used to be a dozen or so that stood out strongly.
I really don't think that is the case today. Something has gone badly wrong with the production line of politicians. Looking beyond the current crop, who do we see coming through as having potential? I can't think of anyone off the top of my head - just more mediocrity.