Has any British political party in history been so involved in an orgy of self-mutilation as the Conservatives are over the vicious EU referendum campaign?
I am sure there is no precedent for this. Some of the insults flying around between people who are supposed to be close political allies have been startling, even shocking sometimes, in their savagery.
If some of these epithets had been uttered in the House of Commons, the Speaker, John Bercow, would have gone spare.
Can the Conservative Party survive this self-induced act of civil warfare? It is often said that the Conservative Party will survive any crisis. But this is something special – and the animosity will not disappear at the wave of a magician’s wand the moment the result of the referendum is announced.
The effects of the result will be felt and argued over for months, if not years, after the event.
In short, some Tory grandees who have been at the forefront of this mud-slinging, could, in months to come, find themselves accused of damaging their own party so badly it may never be restored as an efficient political fighting force.
The Labour Party is not in such turmoil, although it is not far behind.
The leader Jeremy Corbyn has surprisingly admitted that a goodly number of Labour MPs would like to see the back of him, while the shadow chancellor John McDonnell is said to covet the leadership and could strike at any moment. He is a far stronger political performer and has now amassed a back-up team of such size and strength, it is giving the Corbynites the jitters.
Needless to say, McDonnell has denied all these claims, saying almost poetically that Jeremy is his closest political friend.
Meanwhile, Labour’s official campaign to remain in the EU has been feeble to the point of torpidity.
The leaders do not seem to realise the extent of feeling about migrants among thousands of typical Labour voters: more housing problems, fewer jobs, and lower wages for jobs that are available.
The Brexiteers are probably right in predicting that many normally hardcore Labour voters will defy their leadership on June 23.