I have huge respect for Alan Johnson and think he is one of our party's genuine class acts but I think he is wrong to argue that Gordon Brown does not need to apologise for the McBride fiasco.
The truth is that politics at all levels has its share of hard-ball tactics, but nothing is more discomforting, more toxic and more damaging than a smear campaign. Gordon Brown knows this, he also knows that 'perception' in politics is critical. Tomorrow morning he should come out onto the steps of Downing Street and look into the eyes of the assembled media and state clearly and categorically that he is sorry for the hurt that has been caused to all concerned, sorry for the embarrassment and shame that has been heaped upon our party and sorry for the damage done to politics in general. He should even consider writing to the likes of Samantha Cameron and Francis Osborne expressing his personal regret at what happened. Without any of this I think it will be very difficult to draw a line underneath this sad, tawdry and rather ugly incident.
Gordon has a brief opportunity to restore some moral authority - he would be the bigger man for doing so and a lesser man for not.