There is no doubt that this morning’s announcement of a summer general election could not have come at a worse time for Her Majesty’s Opposition. Already on track to lose a considerable number of councillors in local elections in England and Scotland (Scottish Labour’s launch event was also at 11am this morning) and predicted to underperform in the Metro Mayor races, could this be the beginning of the end?
According to one prominent MP the parliamentary party has been in “shock and awe” today. They are mindful that polls show Labour 21 points behind the Tories, and that only 14% of people prefer Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa May, which could put even the safest of seats in play. Even Corbynite MPs who have spent months saying the polls can’t be trusted have privately started admitting that things will be tough. Especially as when the polls have been wrong in recent years they have overstated Labour’s support.
The announcement of three well received policies in the last few weeks had led to hopes on the left of the party that Corbyn might be finding his rhythm. But three policies does not an election campaign make. A series of high profile departures from the Leader’s office, an empty campaign war chest and a demoralised and disorganised central office means the Party is simply not in a place to withstand the battle-tested Tory campaign machine.
Some in the Party will see this as an opportunity to finally rid themselves of Jeremy Corbyn however for the duration of the campaign many will have to shelve their own leadership ambitions. If there is a contest to come, some pessimistic MPs are predicting Labour will be stripped of much of its talent as it could lose over 100 seats the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Labour’s core support should insulate it from meeting a similar fate to the Liberal Democrats in 2015. This election on its own won’t be the end of the Party, however it could very well be the beginning of the end.