Think of it as the sucker punch election. A wall of boxing gloves, as seen in the popular TV game show Total Wipeout, is about to spring into action, pummelling largely blameless Labour party candidates, bashing them rudely about the head and sending them plummeting into the muddy pool below. It is going to be a painful, embarrassing and quite possibly humiliating exercise. There will be no star prize and no “come back next week”. Rather, electoral oblivion draws near. Some viewers may find the images disturbing. Conservatives, on the other hand, could derive as much pleasure from this wipeout as the TV show’s loyal viewers have over the years.

Indeed, quite a lot of observers, and not all of them Tories, have been looking forward to the near annihilation of the Labour party as a necessary punishment. It is the only sort of talk they will understand. Only utter and undeniable devastation will be enough to persuade Jeremy Corbyn to resign at once before any procedural changes can be introduced to make it easier for one of his true believer followers to take over. The deluded members have to be shown how unpopular and unacceptable this brand of politics is.

There are quite a few assumptions underlying this argument, not all of them sound. It seems possible that, whatever the result, the interpretive skills of Team Corbyn will be deployed to show why it is essential that Jeremy does not move on at once. Crushing defeat will demand that he stays on to steady the ship. And anything better than a crushing defeat will be designated a triumph that has earned him an extended stay in the leader’s office.

True, the mood of trade union general secretaries may change on June 9th. But they have not acted yet, even when there seems little doubt about the election’s outcome. Why would having actual, undeniable results make them any more courageous or decisive ? If they still feel constrained by executive committee colleagues and their wider membership there is no reason to think anything would change. And all those new party members may take massive defeat as proof that the system is rigged, that the corrupt Mainstream Media was out to get them all along, and that they must remain true to the righteous cult of St Jeremy.

What Labour is possibly facing, then, is a situation in which an enfeebled and severely diminished party struggles on under a discredited but still extant leadership. The government will have limited opposition as it starts trying to navigate and negotiate Brexit. This is not an attractive option. Even the sunniest optimist would have to concede that Brexit is not going to be easy. The EU27 are united, firm and, we hope, fair. HMG, meanwhile, has been making it up as it goes along, regularly conceding points which it originally described as non-negotiable (on transition periods, for example, and for a time even on the famous “no deal” scenario, although that soundbite, I mean policy, has now been reasserted). This has not inspired confidence. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is not alone in wondering who in SW1 truly has a grasp of what Brexit will involve. There was that Sir Ivan fellow, wasn’t there, but he… is no longer available.

It wasn’t just nostalgia, or defiance, which led Churchill to argue for the chamber of the House of Commons to be rebuilt with the same structure and design that existed before the Luftwaffe struck in 1941. The opposing benches signify something. For good or ill – it’s both, I think – that is how our system works. Government must be opposed, and vigorously too. Ministers know it, and so do civil servants. I was talking to a very grown-up and intelligent LibDem (yes, they do exist) about this the other day. “There has got to be an opposition in this country,” he told me. “And it has got to be the Labour party.”

Those who dream of an episode of political Total Wipeout on June 8th should be careful what they wish for. This election might produce not so much a coalition of chaos but a chaos of chaos. The country would not be well served by this outcome.

Many Labour MPs will now feel that they are taking part in a 200+ seat by-election event, not a general election in which they loudly endorse the party leadership. So be it. Good, hard-working opposition MPs deserve to be returned to Westminster to hold the May government to account. If we want our strong and stable country to remain strong and stable that would not be such a terrible result.