Sir Keir became Labour’s leader earlier this year and has since attempted to rid the party of the mould created by former leader Jeremy Corbyn. He has made several moves to stamp-out hard-left influence, including paying out hefty sums to former employees turned whistleblowers over antisemitism in the party. Despite efforts to take Labour closer to the centre-ground and appeal to members across the political spectrum, Sir Keir is facing continuous pressure from Corbynite members.
Yesterday, a group of MPs announced they had established their own policy research operation.
It marked a break from the mainstream party, with several of Mr Corbyn’s allies now using parliamentary office expenses to fund the Socialist Parliamentary Research Group (SPRG), according to The Times.
Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham who specialises in the politics of the Labour Party, told Express.co.uk Sir Keir could expect more of this to come, warning of the emergence of a “ghetto hard-left” element in the party.
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He said: “Even though Starmer hasn’t said anything about policies yet – yes, there will be pushback, there are currently deep suspicions on certain parts of the left.
“Len McCluskey has articulated some of those suspicions and his specific beef with the party and the reason why Unite has reduced its donations by 10 percent is because of the antisemitism thing, which I think most members would think that was odd to focus on – it’s a very hard-left, hard-Corbynite position, it’s not one that resonates with many members, even those who have respect for Corbyn.
“It kind of shows the little ghetto that the hard-left might be operating at the moment.
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“There are about 30 MPs, mostly in the Socialist Campaign Group, who rebelled against the party and voted against the ‘Spy Cops’ bill, they might cause Starmer some trouble, but not all Corbynites voted against it.
“So there are some divisions within that group.
“There will be people who will pipe up and oppose his changes, but quite what their power in the party was is much diminished.”
Mr McCluskey, Unite the Union’s General Secretary, earlier this month announced that the union would retract the party’s funding by 10 percent – around £150,000.
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It came as he branded Sir Keir’s decision to pay substantial damages to whistleblowers as a “huge miscalculation”.
He has repeatedly rejected claims that Labour was “institutionally antisemitic,” adding on the topic of funding that “it would be a mistake if anybody took Unite for granted”.
Meanwhile, SPRG sources insist the group is not a rival to established channels used by other Labour MPs, according to The Times.
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They described the SPRG as a “party within a party”.
The SPRG is separate to the Socialist Campaign Group, although it appears that its subscribers are exclusively drawn from the Campaign’s membership.
Labour’s left wing has traditionally been organised within the Campaign Group, which was established by former Labour MP Tony Benn.
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It has been compared to the European Research Group (ERG) that supported generations of Conservative Brexiteers in their attempts to shift the Tory position on Europe.
The ERG eventually brought about the ousting of Theresa May as Prime Minister.