Labour’s ostracized left-wingers think they could dominate future Starmer government | Political news

Sir Keir Starmer often defined his leadership of the Labor Party in relation to what came before it.

Jeremy Corbyn was expelled and many of his supporters left the party.

At the same time, he dismantled the 2019 manifesto, abandoning large-scale nationalization commitments and public spending for show more fiscal conservatism.

The left of the party, so recently in power, appears calm and intimidated, while Sir Keir’s grip seems stronger than ever, as part of a plan to reassure the public things have fundamentally changed.

But has the left really been defeated or are some just dormant? And if they are, could they shape a Labor government?

At the heart of the left is the long-established Socialist Campaign Group, whose influence soared during the Corbyn years, with figures such as Richard Burgon, Diane Abbott And John McDonnel as prominent members.

The electoral challenge facing Sir Keir means this group of MPs in their 30s could hold the balance of power in the next Parliament.

Labor needs the swing Blair made in 1997 to win a majority by a single seat. Even the most optimistic advisers, acknowledging that the polls are sure to tighten, know that a Labor majority, if any, is likely to be below 50.

It would undoubtedly be a huge achievement, but could also suddenly leave Sir Keir relying on the SCG to implement his legislative agenda.

We all remember the enormous power the ERG and DUP were able to wield during Theresa May’s tenure.

Some SCG insiders say they are aware of the opportunity and are playing the long game. As one former MP said of the current leadership: “F**k them, we’ll sit on that.”

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Starmer: ‘There’s still a long way to go’

Although they are pushing for a more radical manifesto behind the scenes, they are wary of public confrontations due to the risk of being expelled before the election.

The priority is to keep their seats to put pressure in the future and ensure that “the party does not go even further to the right”.

The senior MP also put the number of left-wing rebels at well over 30, saying around 60 of them were ready to challenge leaders in a recent controversial vote in the House of Commons banning public bodies to boycott Israel. In the end, only 10 broke ranks.

“They chose not to put their heads above the parapet,” they explain, “but the numbers were high. And they were even higher recently during the child benefit dispute. There were people from all the sides asking: if we can’t even do this, what’s the point of the party?”.

For those supporting the leadership, however, they say potential rebellions are much easier to contain than they were at the start.

“At the time, some bills gave us serious problems. Today, the numbers are negligible.”

On the question of whether the SCG could shape Labor in power, he added: “They are not as united as you might think. There are some who are younger and more ambitious. Do they really want to s sit on the benches for the duration of a Labor Government?

“I’m thinking of people like Nadia Whittome. They may not be in the running for big jobs, but they will definitely want a role, an opportunity to make a difference.”

Another senior executive describes the group as fuzzy and divided: “John McDonnell just does what he wants and most people can’t stand Richard Burgon.”

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But what about the wider parliamentary party?

A senior Labor MP suggests the number of people holding their noses until after the election is much higher, extending well beyond the SCG.

“Keir’s support is very broad but very superficial. The project is just ‘to win’, as soon as we do it he won’t have any goodwill at all.”

They add: “But it all depends on who they feel the pressure in the government…

“At the moment they are very influenced by the right-wing press, but colleagues who have been in government promise me that they will have to listen more to the Parliamentary Labor Party.”

Keir Starmer travels to Cardiff, Wales, where he will meet members of the Ukrainian community, before observing a minute's silence

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First in the line of fire for many will be the tough restrictions on public spending, seen as being led by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, enforced by shadow chief treasury secretary Pat McFadden and accepted by Sir Keir as an election necessity.

It’s a position that has created resentment, especially when it seems the rules are being bent by those at the top.

The senior MP explains: “Rachel just arbitrarily funded a brand new hospital for Hillingdon during the Uxbridge by-election and we still haven’t won.

‘Meanwhile colleagues have hospitals whose roofs are literally collapsing and Pat tells them they are not allowed to ask the Conservatives to fix it as it counts as an expense commitment.’

All of this paints a picture of a party leading in the polls, holding its breath and taming internal tensions, hoping to reach the finish line.

The last opposition leader to reach number 10, David Cameron, seemed, at least on the surface, to dominate the Conservative Party, with its modernization agenda.

But behind the scenes, Eurosceptics have stood firm and his tenure is remembered mainly for Brexit.

Those at the top of Labor have proven they can get to a winning position and believe they have taken control, but in reality they may have just bought time. Beyond that, the real power struggle has only just begun.

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