Labour: Revealed - Labour's strategy to block influence of left-wing MPs

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Indy Politics

Labour is warning supporters that Michael Howard could become prime minister in an attempt to neuter the influence of left-wing MPs by winning a big majority in the general election.

Labour is warning supporters that Michael Howard could become prime minister in an attempt to neuter the influence of left-wing MPs by winning a big majority in the general election.

Although Labour chiefs are deepy worried that Iraq has dominated the closing stages of the campaign, they are privately hopeful of winning an unpredecented third term. They are talking up the threat of a surprise Tory victory amid fears that some of Tony Blair's flagship policies could be blocked by 50 left-wingers likely to be elected.

Senior Labour officials admitted they would have a "party-management problem" if Mr Blair's majority were cut from its present 159 to 50. They hope to win a majority of at least 80 to make it easier to push through the public service reforms in their manifesto.

David Blunkett, the former home secretary who is expected to return to the Cabinet in a reshuffle on Friday if Labour retains power, told The Independent: "The real danger of abstentions could lead to a parliament where the disaffected determine the policy of the country.

"If the disaffected in the electorate end up with such a small majority that the disaffected in parliament can rule, then it is the disaffected per se in the electorate and parliament that run the show. That is not good for democracy."

Labour repeated its message that Mr Howard could enter Downing Street through the back door in its final election broadcast of the campaign last night. Despite falling Conservative ratings in the opinion polls, Labour candidates are anxious about a last-minute surge in support for the Liberal Democrats.

Labour officials believe the "Iraq effect" is helping Charles Kennedy's party and are worried this could enable the Tories to leapfrog Labour in 30 Labour-Tory marginals where the Liberal Democrats are in third place.

Labour insists the fight in the marginal seats that will decide the election is "tight". One candidate and former minister said: "Iraq is hurting us. It's doing a lot of damage. The media coverage has reminded people about the war. A lot of them are saying they can't vote for Tony Blair."

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