May’s triumph and Corbyn's troublesAndrew Burdett/RevolutionBahrainMC

Labour’s loss of the Copeland constituency is a cataclysmic disaster – there are no mitigating features. The death knells are ringing for Jeremy Corbyn; he has had 18 months to reshape the Labour Party and has failed miserably. If the result in Copeland were to be mirrored in a general election, the Conservatives would gain a majority of over 100.

Admittedly, an early general election is unlikely – why should Theresa May bother? She has no incentive to enhance her parliamentary majority given the feeble and inept opposition that the Labour Party is providing. To clarify the extent of Labour’s history-defying feat in Copeland, allow me to illustrate some of the circumstances around the by-election.

“Copeland should not have been a hard fight, and Labour’s loss is symptomatic of a lifeless political carcass”

First and foremost, it is a fact of British politics that governing parties – not least those who have been in power for seven years and have inflicted crippling austerity to go alongside a major constitutional and economic referendum on the egoistic basis of trying to settle an internal party dispute – do not win by-elections against the opposition party. This is a logical deduction as voters tend to use by-elections to express their discontent at the government – which is inevitable as government involves making unpopular decisions. It is fairly unprecedented for voters to use a by-election to express their frustration towards the opposition party. And yet these are the historic times we live in.

The Conservative candidate in Copeland, Trudy Harrison, also managed to be elected despite the Conservatives supporting the closure of a maternity ward in the constituency. This is low-hanging fruit. Hospital closures and the bread and butter of successful by-election campaigns. Copeland should not have been a hard fight, and Labour’s loss is symptomatic of a lifeless political carcass.

You might argue that Labour’s holding of Stoke-on-Trent Central negates their Copeland abomination. It doesn’t. The threat to Labour in Stoke was UKIP, who managed to run a campaign so disastrous and lie-ridden that it almost made Labour look like electoral geniuses. Furthermore, UKIP have demonstrated that they are far from a viable political force: they are riddled with contradictions and beset by mediocrity.

Nigel Farage is indicative of this absurdity. It is inconceivable and borderline offensive for voters to have to observe Farage’s hypocrisy. His simultaneous proclamation of his anti-establishment ideology is discredited by his tendency to publicise photos of him meeting with the billionaire President of the United States in the disgustingly ostentatious and palatial surroundings of his New York skyscraper.

Corbyn’s response to Thursday’s events was demonstrative of a political leader holding his party hostage – propelled by some curious ideological commitment, Machiavellian ambition, or pure stupidity. His response, in the negative, to the question asking whether he bore any responsibility for Labour’s loss in Copeland is infuriatingly ignorant. How it is conceivable that he can bear no responsibility for his party’s failures is beyond my comprehension.

The Copeland by-election is just another milestone in Labour’s long walk to political destitution. Corbyn protested that the Labour Party needs longer to come up with more appealing policies. Time? Who needs time? An appealing policy in the era of Brexit, vast income inequality, an NHS in jeopardy, an authoritarian US President and a faltering world order requires little time. Corbyn’s failure to even inspire populist rhetoric is suggestive of his ineptitude. He’s been outclassed on Brexit first by Tony Blair, and now by John Major.

Machinations have been omnipresent within the Labour Party well before the Copeland and Stoke by-elections. MPs are vying for influence and biding their time to make their bid for power. Even by Corbyn’s standards, he is at a particularly low point. With the sad passing of Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester Gorton, Corbyn is faced with yet another high-stakes by-election.

While a Labour loss in Gorton I highly unlikely, an upset is possible, and would take discontent towards Corbyn to an unbearable crescendo. Labour’s majority in Gorton is almost unassailable, yet the constituency was considerably in favour of remaining in the European Union. The Liberal Democrats could finish as a strong second, worrying many in the Labour Party about their prospects in a general election where their message on Brexit may be to their own detriment.

For a party leader, losing a by-election to the party of government (which hasn’t happened since the Falklands War) and a seat that they have held since 1932, is a damning indictment.

The reason why so much emphasis is placed on being able to win elections is because it is through governing that parties and politicians have the chance to unleash their vision on Britain. Copeland has demonstrated that Corbyn is unable to do this, and that is not aware of his own ineptitude