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26 January 2010

How strong will the Labour left be after the election?

The far left will be in a historically weak position

By George Eaton

It’s often casually assumed that Labour will “lurch to the left” if it loses the next election, with the far left of the party acquiring disproportionate influence. But the evidence suggests this may not be the case.

The Socialist Campaign Group currently includes 23 MPs, but ten of these, including Bob Marshall-Andrews, Alan Simpson and Lynne Jones, are standing down at the next election.

Of the remaining 12, Bob Wareing has been deselected but will stand as an Independent Labour candidate and three (David Anderson, Kelvin Hopkins, Mike Wood) have vulnerable majorities of around 6,000.

Last year the Campaign Group lost two members: Ian Gibson, who resigned as an MP in the wake of the expenses scandal, and David Taylor, who died suddenly in December.

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It may be that the group, founded by supporters of Tony Benn in 1981, is boosted by new arrivals after polling day, but many MPs are reluctant to place themselves in the “awkward squad” at such an early stage. Either way, it’s likely the far left of the party will be in a historically weak position after the election.

 

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