The UK European election results are undoubtedly dire for Labour, especially those in Wales and the South of England. But they are not a good day for any of the three mainstream political parties either. For the Tories to get just 28% and the Lib Dems to do even worse than Labour at a time of such unprecedented unpopularity for Labour suggests a real anti-politics mood among the people. If David Cameron thinks his party were the 'clear winners' last night, he needs his head examined.
That the odious BNP now have two seats is bad. That the only slightly less extreme UKIP have increased their representation to come second is almost as bad. A quarter of people voted for far right wing anti-immigrant parties in Britain. The anti-politics fostered by the expenses saga has made this nearly as much a crisis for mainstream politics as it is for Labour. All the main parties have a duty to win these people back.
That said, Labour are undoubtedly the biggest losers and must find a way to reconnect. After all, the economy is starting to recover thanks to the measures taken by Alastair Darling and Gordon Brown. And Brown is right to say that any reconnection depends on the economy, democratic reform and the public services. But the party must realise that the shambolic disunity that has gripped Labour in recent weeks is as much a cause of decline as a product of it.
That is why Barry Sheerman is right to suggest that the leadership issue needs to be settled one way or another in the next week or so. And a secret ballot of the entire PLP is the best way to do it, given that no cabinet member is prepared to put themselves forward for a contest. Once that vote has been taken, there should either be a leadership election involving the whole party if the PM does not enjoy strong support among MPs or an end to the clamour for leadership change if he does. If he wins, Brown must have an absolutely clear strategy for the next year - based on the principles he set out at his Friday press conference - and get on with delivering it with the full support of the parliamentary party.
If we don't get a grip now, Labour will be the agents of our own destruction.