Last night was a truly disastrous night for Labour. There is no getting away from it. Even my own hometown of Bury near Manchester went Conservative, the first time this has happened since 1986. As a bellwether borough, which usually supports the party in power, that result should send a warning message to Labour HQ.
Only in Liverpool did Labour manage to give the LibDems a run for their money. They won new seats and exposed the shoddy internal workings of the Council. Labour would be in control now if an Independent hadn't defected to the LibDems at the last minute. Alas, it wasn't to be. Next time though.
But up and down the country things were bad. This is what Brown needs to do now:
1) A complete mea culpa. Listen and Apologise. Don't panic by reshuffling the Cabinet though.
2) Act. It is not enough to say we have listened and learned. This is what Blair said after the last General Election. Instead, we need to act. This means changing the policies and moving the government in a new direction.
3) Policies*. We need to show that we are on the side of every hardworking family in the country. We need a message of fairness that resonates with voters. Fairness when it comes to public services, fairness when it comes to taxation, fairness when it comes to immigration. We need to give people a reason to vote for us. By adopting a platform of fairness we can distinguish ourselves from the Tories.
4) Other Cabinet Ministers need to step up. Where has Hazel Blears gone? What is Hilary Benn doing? Why has Alan Johnson gone quiet? The Cabinet needs to rally round. Nobody has mentioned "renewal" for a long time, but this is exactly what needs to happen. MIlburn and Clarke do actually have some good ideas. They need to be used.
5) Expose the Tories. Their sums don't add up. They are divided over Europe, ID Cards and 42 Day detention. Start attacking them. Brown made a good job of this at the last PMQs by referring to Cameron as a "shallow salesman." We need more of this. Go after Michael Ashcroft. Do this now.
6) Morale. Labour Party members feel let down and fed up. The PLP has effectively given up. If a momentum builds up that 'we are all doomed' and fighting the Tories is pointless, then we really do deserve to lose the next election. Throw us a bone Brown. Reassure us, remind us why we like you.
7) A water-cooler moment. We need one big idea over the next 12 months that will capture people's attention. The Tories have inheritance tax and stamp duty. We need to find our own. Something that people will talk about in the office the next morning and something that chimes with Labour values. It could be about the environment, child poverty or the public services.
8) Look after the economy. Don't cock it up.
*My idea - Bring back school nurses. A full time nurse for every primary school in the country should be a top priority going into the next election. It shows we are serious about preventative health and serious about our children's welfare. They would educate kids, deal with family medical emergencies and spot medical problems before they emerge. They would play a serious role and I think be a real vote winner.