Tories will frame the by-election as a Labour failure, the press thinks Ed Miliband's written it off, and local party activists have their own problems to contend with.
Both of the main parties see political advantage in going it alone if they win in 2015.
Losses to Ukip mean the party has failed to gain any ground since 2010.
The party is determined not to allow the Conservatives to make Labour failure the story of Thursday's by-election.
Polling released today shows 75.8 per cent of Labour councillors in the party's 106 target seats support their leader. But how significant are Labour's targets?
Labour is set to use an opposition day debate on the eve of the Rochester and Strood by-election to debate and vote on the European Arrest Warrant.
Business leaders gather today to focus on securing Britain’s place in Europe and raising living standards: is Labour the only party truly on their side?
With Ukip’s noisy presence in the European Parliament, and Tory euroscepticism rampant at home, is Labour prepared to speak sense on Britain’s EU membership?
The Labour leader will almost certainly survive but he desperately needs to break the cycle.
Doing well by doing good.