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Paranoia on Labour left following Starmer ‘purge’

Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘purge’ of the Labour left is creating paranoia within the party with would-be candidates telling i: “None of us feel safe.”

But Labour insiders denied there was a formalised purge of the left.

They said decisions about who is allowed to stand is about preparing for the reality that if Labour wins the election it could do so with a small majority

In that eventuality MPs must be “on the same page” as the leadership to ensure Labour is not left struggling to pass key legislation, sources claimed.

The suggestion is that Starmer loyalists will provide this where a handful of difficult MPs could hold up or scupper legislation.

It comes after a number of left-wingers were effectively removed from standing in moves that have rekindled factional wars.

The party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday contacted Faiza Shaheen who ws due to stand in Chingford and Woodford Green.

Shaheen was told she would not be endorsed by the NEC because of her social media activity, which included liking a post about the ‘Israel lobby’.

She is now planning to challenge the decision in the courts, claiming she has faced “a systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia and bullying”.

In a statement she said: “This campaign of prejudice, bullying and spiteful behaviour has finally been rewarded by Labour’s NEC [national executive committee] and my name has been added to the list of those not welcome in the candidate club. And it is no surprise that many of those excluded are people of colour.”

One would-be MP who is on the party’s left told i “none of us feel safe at this point” while another remarked “we are all waiting for that tap on the shoulder”.

Sir Keir Starmer denied he was blocking left-wingers from standing, insisting he wanted the “highest quality” candidates.

Several of these were imposed as candidates in safe seats – including Josh Simons, director of the Labour Together think tank, Luke Akehurst, an NEC member and key apparatchik on the right of the party, Heather Iqbal, former communications adviser to Rachel Reeves, and Camden Council leader Georgia Gould.

Meanwhile, Apsana Begum, who was triggered by local Poplar and Limehouse members in 2022, has said it is not clear whether she has a future as a candidate.

And the future of the veteran MP Diane Abbott – who commands respect as the first-ever black woman MP – who served as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow home secretary, was in doubt as a decision is yet to be taken as to whether she will be endorsed in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Following reports she may be blocked, she vowed to stand “by any means possible” and told a rally of supporters she was not “intimidated” by Starmer’s allies.

It was not clear whether she would follow Corbyn and run as an independent.

Starmer insisted no decision has yet been taken about whether Abbott will be allowed to defend the seat she has held for 37 years.

And asked if he was blocking left-wingers from standing, he said: “No. I’ve said repeatedly over the last two years as we’ve selected our candidates that I want the highest-quality candidates. That’s been the position for a very long time.”

Starmer ally Darren Jones, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said he did not think it was true to say there was a purge of the left.

“There are many colleagues of mine in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) who would define themselves as being on the Left who are endorsed Labour Party candidates standing in their constituency,” he said.

Momentum, the Corbynite campaign group, accused the party of “institutional racism”, while Mish Rahman, a left-wing member of the NEC, has said Starmer “hides behind technicalities”.

Neal Lawson, the director of the Compass think tank, said: “Starmer has pledged to deliver a ‘total crackdown on cronyism’, but is already dodging proper scrutiny by parachuting in his allies to handfuls of safe seats – and all before even setting foot in Downing Street.

“This represents a further narrowing of views at the top of the Labour Party and only serves to make our politics narrower and more brittle.”

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