Let's not beat around the bush. The result in the Norwich North by-election is an awful result for Labour (and for the Lib Dems and Greens, incidentally, since Labour did at least manage to keep second place) and a good one for the Conservatives and their candidate, Chloe Smith. This was an entirely avoidable by-election caused by inept handling by the Labour party of the expenses saga in the case of Ian Gibson.
As I said yesterday, the government has been doing some good things in recent months and has a greater clarity of purpose. But it has largely failed to get a sense of this across to the public. If Labour is to recover any of its position in the months ahead, it must be much clearer about what it is about, more honest about the consequences of the recession on public spending and much better at getting its message across.