Labour's horrendous defeat in Crewe on Thursday was not just a case of mid-term blues.
It represents a fundamental shift in the electorate's perception of the Government and the opposition.
If repeated in a General Election, the 18% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, would see over 200 Labour MPs lose their seats including some pretty safe places where the majorities are close to 15,000. This would put Labour in opposition for over a decade.
Labour ran a pretty distasteful campaign in Crewe. The focus on class to attack the Tory opponent was a big mistake. It seemed terribly dated and treated the voters with contempt. Where has the inclusive party of aspiration gone that won us three general elections in a row? I cannot believe Tony Blair would ever have allowed it.
Tamsin Gunwoody seemed like a feisty, 'switched on' candidate but she was facing an uphill struggle from the word go.
I was dismayed even more the next day when the Prime Minister, Hazel Blears and other Cabinet Ministers claimed it was all down to the economic situation. Undoubtedly, this is a concern for voters and it is making them anxious but I think its actually more simple than that:
They just don't like the Government at the moment and they especially don't like the Prime Minister.
No one in the Government seems to get this or if they do they are keeping schtum.
Brown is a bad communicator and lacks empathy. He damaged his own reputation irrevocably with the 10p tax rate and he seems incompetent. All of his problems can be traced back to the-election-that-never-was which has left a residual sense in the voters' minds that he puts politics before principle. An attack the Tories make which unfortunately rings true.
Crewe voters saw through the Labour baloney and made the right decision, sending a powerful signal to the Government.
More than that, Crewe represents a turning point. Barring a radical change of policy - and I mean radical not just tinkering with bits of legislation - or some sort of domestic or international crisis which the PM responds well to, things will not turn around for Labour in time for the next election.
I think its time we started to prepare for a Conservative Government.