The “people like us” party

The post-election outlook for Labour's left isn't a promising one. Ten MPs from the 23-strong Socialist Campaign Group, including such stalwarts as Bob Marshall-Andrews, Alan Simpson and Lynne Jones, are planning to stand down after polling day. But recent candidate selections suggest it's too early to declare the death of the awkward squad.

Labour members have selected Ian Lavery, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, for the safe seat of Wansbeck. John Cryer, son of the socialist MP Ann Cryer, will stand in Leyton and Wanstead. Tony Blair may wonder what the party learned from his leadership.

David Cameron is rather proud of the record number of gay and female candidates that the Conservatives now have. But he's perhaps less likely to point out the unusually high number of politicians' relatives standing for his party. Tory candidates include Ben Gummer (son of John), Laura Sandys (daughter of Duncan), Robin Walker (son of Peter) and Jo Johnson (brother of Boris). With the exception of Gummer, all are likely to become MPs after the next election. Cameron is currently attempting to scupper the government's plan to remove the remaining hereditary peers from the House of Lords. On this evidence, he's also happy for his MPs to keep it in the family.

Labour is in trouble in the Welsh constituency of Islwyn, where three of the party's councillors have resigned over claims that candidates to replace Don Touhig MP are being "parachuted" in from outside the area. One of the rebels, Dave Rees, will now fight the seat as an independent and attempt to overturn Labour's notional majority of 17,602.

Some in the party fear a repeat of Blaenau Gwent, where, in 2005, the independent candidate Peter Law won the seat once held by Michael Foot and Nye Bevan after resigning from Labour in protest at all-women shortlists.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 15 March 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Falklands II