A BACKLASH from Labour backbenchers is predicted if the party take power, despite the apparent purge of left-wing MPs and leftist would-be candidates.

Attempts by the party leadership to prevent trouble from their backbenchers will fail even if Labour triumph at the General Election, political experts believe.

Labour’s campaign has been rocked by the furore over whether left-wing MP Diane Abbott was going to be allowed to stand for election, and the sudden decisions to deselect left-winger Faiza Shaheen – previously described by Labour leader Keir Starmer as a “fantastic” candidate – and suspend leftist MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Dr Eric Shaw of Stirling University said the overall objective was to try and ensure a future Labour government was not disturbed by backbench rebellions and this was being done by squeezing the number of MPs who are “in any way on the edge of the left”.

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However, he added: “I am not sure that will work entirely – in fact, I am not sure it will work at all because the party’s fiscal position is frankly unsustainable.”

Dr Shaw said this was because the party had committed to government “fiscal rules”, with the result that they had restricted room for manoeuvre on borrowing and taxation.

“Labour have made all sorts of pledges not to raise taxes but the Institute of Fiscal Studies keeps pointing out that the numbers don’t add up, or rather that they only add up if there are significant cutbacks to public services,” he said.

“When that happens and unpleasant decisions have to be taken, presumably a large number of Labour MPs will come under pressure both from party members but also from the public.”

He said the party had put themselves in a paradoxical position by branding the NHS broken, social care in disarray and the judicial system in a total mess but was not committing to any funding to solve the problems.

The National: Left-wing former MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle is unable to stand in the General Election due a complaint about his behaviourLeft-wing former MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle is unable to stand in the General Election due a complaint about his behaviour

“Voters will expect action and I anticipate there will be a honeymoon period of six months or so then things will begin to darken,” said Dr Shaw. “I think possibly they are being a bit optimistic if they think they are going to avert significant degrees of dissent from the backbenches.”

This would not be on ideological grounds, both because the number of left wingers would have fallen, but also because people don’t like to make unpleasant political decisions, he said.

Dr Colm Murphy of Queen Mary University in London said that while he couldn’t comment on specific cases, there was no question that some Labour members and MPs had interpreted the past few days as a “factional purge”.

“It has clearly caused some disquiet among the ranks – not just among the left who are critical of Starmer,” he said. “That perception could matter in the longer term. As New Labour discovered at times, it can narrow or weaken the leadership’s internal support base in the party, which creates long-term vulnerabilities for its political project.”

Professor Mark Wickham-Jones of the University of Bristol also agreed the apparent marginalisation of the left could prompt a backlash.

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“Labour have always been a slightly awkward coalition of differing political views – one that is held together as much by the vagaries of the British electoral system and a desire for power as by any ideological or intellectual coherence. We saw this under Tony Blair’s leadership and, of course, under that of Jeremy Corbyn,” he said.

“Since he became leader, Keir Starmer has manifestly sought to impose his authority on the party in what has been become an increasingly centralised organisation over the years.”

Professor Wickham-Jones said this was clear in Starmer’s management of the Parliamentary Labour Party where no member of the Socialist Campaign Group were on the shadow front bench when the July 4 General Election was announced.

He added that it was an indication of the “volatility” of British politics and of Labour in particular that such a transformation in the alignment of the shadow cabinet could take place just five years after left-wing Jeremy Corbyn was leader at the 2019 General Election.

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However, Professor Wickham-Jones said that while there were “some indications” that left-wingers had struggled in parliamentary selections, it was less clear how far this represented interventions from the leadership and how far it represented the preferences of a new grassroots membership.

No matter whose interventions it represented, he said, the end result would still be that Labour’s left would be “further marginalised” after the General Election.

“Of course, that may incur a backlash,” said Professor Wickham-Jones.

The official decision on whether Abbott will be allowed to stand for Labour is to be made officially by the party’s National Executive on Tuesday but Starmer has said she is free to stand.