Barrie Cassidy's pronouncement on Sunday's Insiders program that Julia Gillard would not lead Labor to the next election set in train a feverish round of fresh speculation over the Labor leadership -- central to the thesis was that Maribyrnong MP Bill Shorten would be the key to a last-minute move away from Gillard. The idea rested on the notion that Shorten had six or seven votes in his pocket in the manner of a senior Japanese LDP official. Left unexplained was where those votes -- apparently from current Gillard supporters that take advice from Shorten -- were meant to come from.

On Crikey's notional numbers, based on media statements, previous voting records, off-the record briefings and factional alignments, the ALP's 102 member caucus would be split 56-46 in favour of Gillard if a ballot were held today (last February's leadership ballot was 71-31). So a change of leadership to Rudd would require just six MPs to change their minds.