The Batley & Spen by-election is two days away. Few in the Labour camp expect victory. National polling suggests the party is, if anything, falling further behind. Open goals are offered hourly by the corrupt Johnson administration; one after another they are blazed over the bar

Keir Starmer is a giant albatross round the party’s neck. With him as leader there is no prospect of electoral recovery. His plodding delivery, lack of musicality, absence of flair have all been noticed by voters entertained by Johnson. They rewarded Labour appropriately in May. Starmer’s response (after claiming he would take personal responsibility) was to attempt to punish, undeservingly, his deputy Angela Rayner. This petty vindictiveness (also illustrated by the continued exclusion of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn) was an unsuspected character trait. Even Rayner’s treatment, he and his staff amusingly bungled.

When every allowance is made for the mendacity of the Conservative press, the supine servility of a BBC which follows its lead, the scale of the December 2019 rout, Starmer is simply not up to it. He is not a leader, and never was except to the myopic who saw in him a rallying point against Corbyn. If he wants to render a last service to the party he could help by offering his resignation before (not after) the Batley & Spen by-election. Will Rayner find the courage to force him out by precipitating a leadership contest?

We can only hope so.