What is going on out there? I cannot recall a greater disjunction between politics at Westminster and the way it is perceived in the rest of the country. The kerfuffles around Downing Street are dominating the media debate. But this may be distracting attention from profound long-term changes.

According to precedent, we know what ought to be happening. Most mid-term electoral contests come down to a referendum on the proposition: “does the government deserve a kick in the pants?” That is usually answered with a decisive “yes”, which should be even more resounding once Boris’s antics are factored in. But this time, the Tories have a good chance of holding the West Midlands mayoralty and winning the Hartlepool by-election. If they even come close, Keir Starmer and his team should be enveloped in Stygian gloom.