Stephen Pollard For The Mail On Sunday

The nation’s attention is quite rightly focused on the General Election, but five weeks before we vote, many of us will visit a polling station for local elections.

If the opinion polls are even remotely accurate, those local results will provide Labour with a preview of the fate that awaits it a month later.

And it will be a horror show.

According to analysis of the polls, Labour is on course to suffer one of its worst local election results since the mid-1980s, when Baroness Thatcher was in her pomp and the Left was hopelessly split.

Unlike Corbyn, Yvette Cooper is experienced at the highest level of politics, having served in the Cabinet. She is fearsomely bright, personable and popular and husband Ed Balls is loved by the nation after Strictly Come Dancing

Unlike Corbyn, Yvette Cooper is experienced at the highest level of politics, having served in the Cabinet. She is fearsomely bright, personable and popular and husband Ed Balls is loved by the nation after Strictly Come Dancing

Unlike Corbyn, Yvette Cooper is experienced at the highest level of politics, having served in the Cabinet. She is fearsomely bright, personable and popular and husband Ed Balls is loved by the nation after Strictly Come Dancing

The consensus is that Labour will lose about 125 council seats next month.

But as bad as that would be – oppositions are supposed to win seats in council elections, not lose them – in context it is even worse, because the party’s disastrous performance in local elections under Ed Miliband means that it is already at a very low base.

So in all likelihood, Labour will make a bad situation immeasurably worse.

This will come as no surprise to any moderate Labour MP. They already know that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is toxic to their party’s chances.

But it’s one thing hearing it on the doorsteps and seeing it forecast in the polls. It’s quite another seeing that message rammed home by real voters casting actual votes.

When voters have the pencil in their hand, Corbyn as Labour leader terrifies them.

But if Labour MPs and the unions which bankroll the party have the gumption, it is not too late to do something.

Even by May 5, as they digest the local election results, there is time for Labour MPs to save the party – and their careers. If Labour MPs and the unions can put enough pressure on Corbyn to go, the party’s NEC should then arrange a brief leadership election, with MPs from the recently dissolved Parliament alone deciding in these extreme circumstances.

According to the polls, Labour is on course to suffer one of its worst local election results since the mid-1980s. When voters have the pencil in their hand, Corbyn as Labour leader terrifies them

According to the polls, Labour is on course to suffer one of its worst local election results since the mid-1980s. When voters have the pencil in their hand, Corbyn as Labour leader terrifies them

According to the polls, Labour is on course to suffer one of its worst local election results since the mid-1980s. When voters have the pencil in their hand, Corbyn as Labour leader terrifies them

And it’s not just the benefits of changing leader they should think about: the party’s history shows what happens when they don’t act. If MPs had had the courage to act against Gordon Brown in 2009, or even in 2010, Labour might have held on. David Cameron didn’t win the 2010 election: Labour lost it.

And if the party had removed the useless Michael Foot in the run-up to the 1983 election, it might have avoided its worst performance, when it managed just 209 seats and 27.6 per cent of the vote.

The polls suggest 2017 will be even worse.

Action by MPs would also avoid a new disaster of another hard-Left leader, such as John McDonnell.

Is it Yvette Cooper’s moment? Unlike Corbyn, she is experienced at the highest level of politics, having served in the Cabinet. She is fearsomely bright, personable and popular. And her husband, Ed Balls, is finally loved by the nation after Strictly and isn’t returning to politics to stand in her way.

If Labour had any sense, Cooper would be elected by acclaim this time.

Then again, if Labour had any sense, it wouldn’t be in this mess.

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