Initial Reaction to By-Election: Brown's Finished. But On Reflection . . .
Initial reaction at Westminster to the prospect of yet another by-election is that this could finally do Brown in.
John MacDougall, whose death was announced a few hours ago, represented Glenrothes, a constituency neighbouring Gordon Brown's own seat of Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath.
Losing here, when Labour gained a 10,000 majority in 2005, would make it very clear to members of the governing party that none of their seats are safe.
But Brown is planning to put off the day of judgment for as long as possible - and there will be no election until after the Labour conference, in late September. (It is possible to move the writ for a by-election even when Parliament is not sitting when an MP dies).
This gives him time to begin to turn things around. Mr Brown's best hope of ending leadership speculation is to deliver a cracking speech to conference, reassert his authority by reshuffling his Cabinet and make a success of his Cabinet meeting in Birmingham, which will be presented nationally as part of his efforts to listen to and understand the concerns of ordinary people.
Things could change before the by-election takes place. Still, people are wondering whether he could survive another by-election loss.