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Corbyn faces an uphill battle

Theresa May put forward a number of reasons for calling a snap election on June 8, `stability and certainty' chief among them.

But cynics will conclude that the prime minister simply could not resist the opportunity to crush the Labour Party while it is weak and divided, offering the Conservatives the prospect of a landslide victory and silencing her internal party critics along the way.

Mrs May will know that going to the polls three years earlier than required is a decision not without risks.

No election is a foregone conclusion and we have witnessed some major electoral upsets in the past year from the Brexit result to the success of Donald Trump.

Nevertheless, it is deeply depressing that at this critical juncture, with Britain about to leave the EU and the UK facing far-reaching consequences, the official opposition at Westminster has been largely ineffectual.

Mrs May is, after all, a seasoned politician who has managed to rise to the very top in British politics by seizing the opportunities which have come her way.

Labour's job is to make life difficult for her government, to hold it to account and offer a credible alternative to the electorate.

Unfortunately, under Jeremy Corbyn, the past two years have been marred by bitter in-fighting and swing voters may well wonder why they should support someone who cannot command the support of his own MPs.

That said, although he is a notoriously poor media performer, Mr Corbyn's first major election speech yesterday showed a bit more focus and energy and will be regarded as a reasonable start.

It can also be an advantage to be the underdog where expectations are low but there is no denying that Mr Corbyn has a mountain to climb.

The polls - admittedly not always a reliable indicator - give the Tories a 24 point lead and unless there is some sort of political earthquake, it is difficult to see how Labour can pull off a most unlikely victory.

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