AS I scanned round the faces of Labour activists at last week’s General Election count in the SEC, I recalled my own experience of the crushing defeat Labour had in 1983.

I was a young Labour activist in what was then the first General Election I had been involved in. I recall the seemingly absolute triumph of Thatcherism over one of the Labour-left giants – Michael Foot.

Last week’s result was Labour’s worst since 1935. Even in the defeat of 1983, Labour still

had substantial representation from the North of England and Scotland. The challenge now facing Labour is monumental.

That result was a rejection of whether Labour’s leader was seen as a prime minister in waiting. Just as last week’s was.

But, to be blunt, Jeremy Corbyn is no Michael Foot. Neither his intellectual, nor oratorical, equivalent.

The 1983 result was Labour’s failure to understand suburban Britain. The 2019 result was a failure to recognise how disparate and divided our country has become. A failure to understand that traditional allegiances have been broken by Brexit and the prospect of Scottish independence.

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And in times such as these, credible leadership was essential. That’s not what we offered. And the result is a potential generation who will be sacrificed.

Back then I dedicated my political life to ensuring that never again would we sink so low in a UK General Election.

I know how hard those young activists worked to achieve a Labour victory. They went out in all weathers to support excellent Labour candidates in our city. But our lesson must be: never again.

The righteous anger of Alan Johnson, in the early hours of Friday morning, as he eviscerated the Momentum founder Jon Lansman, was profound. He captured the raw anger felt at the scale of defeat.

Labour now faces an existential crisis. As a first step, to paraphrase Labour’s most radical prime minister Clement Attlee: a period of silence from the Corbyn cheerleaders in this time of strife would be most welcome.

In Scotland, the debate about a second independence referendum ignores the real challenges that Scots face every day.

Despite last week’s result, two fundamental truths remain: a hard Tory Brexit will be disastrous for working people. And an independent Scotland, predicated on its own currency – and the associated cuts that would mean – would be even worse.

Labour’s job is to point those truths out. Perhaps it feels like Luke’s reference in the King James Bible: “verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country”.

But for the sake of our country we need to win that debate in the years ahead.