In the early hours of Friday morning, Labour activists in Copeland received a crushing blow, when they lost a long-held constituency to the Tories.
As the news sank in, everyone from the leadership down began sharing their views on what went wrong.
Some Labour MPs who had done the door knock rounds acknowledged voters felt the party was divided, and were confused about its leadership.
But others had more imaginative reasons for defeat:
1. Tony Blair
So far, John McDonnell has blamed nuclear power, Brexit, leadership elections, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson for losing Copeland.
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) 24 February 2017
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told Radio 4’s Today programme that: “I don’t think it’s about individuals”. But he then laid into Tony Blair, saying: “We can’t have a circumstance again where a week before the by-election a former leader of the party attacks the party itself.”
2. Marginal seats
Copeland result very disappointing. But “safe Labour seat” description wrong. Since its creation in 1983, usually a small Labour majority.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) February 24, 2017
In a flurry of tweets, shadow Justice secretary Richard Burgon wanted everyone to know that Copeland was a marginal seat and always had been since it was created in 1983.
Which might be true, but most commentators were rather more struck by the fact Labour MPs had managed to overcome that marginality and represent the area for eighty years.
3. The nuclear industry
Copeland MP is pro-nuclear right winger. No change there. UKIP bubble burst at Stoke.
— Paul Flynn (@PaulFlynnMP) February 24, 2017
In response to the defeat, Corbyn loyalist Paul Flynn tweeted: “Copeland MP is pro-nuclear right winger. No change there.” He added that Copeland was a “unique pro-nuclear seat”.
In fact, when The New Statesman visited Copeland, we found residents far more concerned about the jobs the nuclear industry provides than any evangelical fervour for splitting atoms.
4. The political establishment
Copeland voters so disillusioned with the “political establishment” they elected a Tory MP. https://t.co/9OVEJOwLma
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) February 24, 2017
Addressing journalists the day after the defeat, Corbyn said voters were “let down by the political establishment”. So let down, they voted for the party of government.
He also blamed the “corporate controlled media”.
More evidence of the electoral foolhardiness of Labour chasing Brexiteers down the rabbit hole https://t.co/pMjKxZ0ine
— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) February 24, 2017
Corbyn’s erstwhile rival Owen Smith tweeted that the defeat was “more evidence of the electoral foolhardiness of Labour chasing Brexiteers down the rabbit hole”. It’s certainly the case that Brexit hasn’t been kind to Labour’s share of the vote in Remain-voting by-elections like Richmond. But more than 56 per cent of Cumbrians voted Leave, and in Copeland the percentage was the highest, at 62 per cent. That’s an awful lot of Brexiteers not to chase…