The likes of Straw, Harman, Darling and Johnson might have been OK as caretakers if Brown had been deposed. But, assuming they lose the election, the Labour torch will surely have to be passed on to the next generation.
In various other posts, I've stressed the importance of British party leaders having an elusive appeal that extends beyond those who normally vote for their party. Thatcher and Blair had it, as did Jo Grimond and Paddy Ashdown for the Liberals, but Gordon Brown doesn't have it (for more on which, see HERE & HERE).
Clinging on to the core vote
Since the advent of 'New Labour', the party's main marketing problem has been how to bring middle class voters on board whilst, at the same time, holding on to trades unionists and the 'core vote'.
Blair's public school and Oxford credentials, coupled with his 'natural charm', were arguably critical in winning over enough Tory voters to see him through three election victories.
But he was also very lucky (and/or shrewd) to have had a supporting chorus of Northern vowel sounds from David Blunkett and John Prescott, senior ministers who sounded like (and appealed to) large swathes of the party's core vote.
Bourgeois intruders in the Labour heartlands
Like Tony Blair, potential leadership candidates such as the Miliband brothers and Ed Balls, not to mention Yvette Cooper (AKA Mrs Balls), all come from highly educated middle class backgrounds - with its potential appeal to waivering Tories (if there still are any).
Something else they also have in common with Blair is that they too were parachuted into safe Northern constituencies that had traditionally always selected and returned trades unionists as their MPs.
But, unlike Blair, they're a bit short on Blunkets and Prescotts to boost the party's appeal to its core voters - with one notable exception:
Andy Burnham, BA (Cambridge): a Labour lad from Lancashire
In marked contrast with the other likely contenders in the Labour leadership stakes, Burnham is the MP for his home town - rather than for somewhere he'd never been to or heard of until being awarded a safe seat by the party's high command.
What's more, his years in the South haven't completely eliminated the authentic Northern vowel sounds that make him sound like 'one of us' to Labour's core vote - whilst his Oxbridge education gives him the middle class credentials of a Thatcher, Blair or Cameron.
Add to that the fact that I've seen commentators refer to him as 'good looking' (*), and have never heard anyone who knows him say anything other than what a nice chap he is - and he may have the Blair 'charm' factor too.
So the main question about him looks like being whether he's too nice to bite the bullet hard enough to go for it, win and do the dirty deeds that will have to be done to put the New Labour show back on the road.
*P.S. Since writing this, my attention has been drawn to this interview with LibDem M.P. Lynne Featherstone, who came second to Mr Burnham in a 'most fanciable M.P.' poll - and who describes him here as "drop dead gorgeous":