By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer
SIR Keir Starmer will be Prime Minister by the end of 2024, bar an unmitigated disaster.
Polling currently shows the Labour leader achieving a 1997-style landslide, though in reality, the gap between Starmer and Rishi Sunak is likely to close significantly over the next 12 months.
And while Labour has focused their efforts on purging the Left from the party – whether it be members, councillors or Jeremy Corbyn – they may regret that decision once the dust settles post-election.
The Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) has more than 30 Labour MPs on its books – alongside a couple of independents, Corbyn included.
While a few of these parliamentarians are officially on the frontbench – in minor roles, such as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) or in the Whip’s Office – in reality, Starmer will have almost three dozen rebellious MPs to contend with upon entering No 10.
Unless he gets a major majority, the SCG will hold the balance of power in any Starmer government.
Just like the European Research Group pushed several Conservative Prime Ministers to the right, the SCG – optimistically – could attempt the same with the left.
This is only semi-realistic for now – even when Corbyn was banned from standing as a Labour MP, the most they could come up with were social media posts and a strongly worded petition.
But perhaps the likes of John McDonnell are playing the long game here. Resist too hard now and risk being chucked out and reselected. The party machine has already gone to lengths to allow right-wing candidates to dominate CLP selections. Once a leftist MP is gone, he’s hardly likely to be replaced.
And so the last stand of 30 or so left-wing MPs could yet prove effective.
Sir Keir’s first Shadow Cabinet was somewhat conciliatory – his next showed his true agenda for the centrists to take control of the party.
He has done little to appease the SCG, nor is he likely to before entering Downing Street.
But if the socialist MPs hang on to their seats, they could prove a real thorn in the side of any Labour government.
Ironically, on some issues, the Tories in opposition and Starmer’s Labour could negate the SCG effect easily – but mostly, Sir Keir will view the SCG as a party in itself – one that could take the government down at every vote.
The British Left, most of whom are disillusioned by the seeming lack of fight from the SCG, will not see the effects of the long game until some months into the Starmer premiership.
But it’s a numbers game – play it right, and the Left could, in dwindling numbers, still be very effective. And they might have one Jeremy Corbyn to boost their votes too,
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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