How do you tell a politician who has just been punched in the face by the electorate that something is looming that will cause him a bigger and far longer-lasting headache?
Keir Starmer probably already has an inkling about the next tortuous twist facing his Labour leadership: mounting pressure to open talks with the leaders of other left-of-centre parties about forming an electoral pact.
The weekend’s latest opinion poll by YouGov set out the nightmare trap into which the left in general and the Labour party in particular has fallen. The party ratings were as follows: Conservatives 46, Labour 28, Greens 8, Lib Dems 8, SNP 5, Reform UK 2, Plaid Cymru 1.
The 18-point Tory lead over Labour suggests that the basic political terrain resembles the situation when Tony Blair was Labour PM and William Hague led the Tories. The government is simply miles ahead and a rump opposition is becalmed.
But that’s not the worst of it for Labour. The other striking feature of the poll is that the Conservatives have a monopoly on the right-of-centre vote save for a tiny sliver that is backing the fragile Reform UK. About 95 per cent of right-of-centre voters are lining up behind the Tories. It is a far cry from the heyday of Ukip when the Tories struggled to command much more than two-thirds of this vote.
But now look at the left. Labour’s 28 points is offset by a combined 22 points for other left-of-centre offers: the Greens, the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. On this showing, Labour only commands a 56 per cent market share on the left-of-centre.
Of the alternative brands, the SNP seems to have locked in nearly half of Scottish voters, while the Greens are on a roll and have much more potential for growth given the massively increased salience of their defining issue.