DESPITE the row over what Cherie did or did not say about Gordon; the continuing lack of clarity surrounding the Prime Minister's departure timetable and the absence of any real debate on crucial issues like Iraq and a replacement for Trident, Labour's annual conference in Manchester was a qualified success.
A qualified success because – despite many predictions to the contrary – there wasn't too much blood on the floor over the succession and, mercifully, there was no repeat of last year's ?Walter Wolfgang moment.' Mr Blair made a skilful and emotional farewell speech without actually saying goodbye while Mr Brown underlined his leadership credentials by articulating co-operative values such as community, citizenship, responsibility and society.
Now that the delegates have returned to their constituencies, the harsh reality is that Labour is in limbo until the leadership issues are resolved. The public remains unconvinced that key policy issues and the party's long-term future direction can be tackled satisfactorily while such a power vacuum exists at the top.
Re-connecting with Britain's progressive majority has been a conference theme and rightly so. But that will not happen until Mr Blair leaves office and his successor shapes a foreign policy that acknowledges past mistakes and distances itself from President Bush.
Anyone who witnessed the massive and hugely representative anti-war demonstration in Manchester on the day Labour arrived in the city will surely agree that the paralysis at the top is preventing Labour from achieving its full potential. Time to go? Certainly. And the sooner the better.