Moderate Labour MPs fear the leadership is purging them, writes Robert Peston

Ahead of the looming general election, moderate Labour MPs are understandably upset by an instruction they say the party has given to suspend the selection of new candidates in seats where the serving MP is retiring or has defected.

They've been told the reason is to "concentrate on the trigger ballot processes" - or the deselection of usually moderate MPs who have alienated activists.

See the below email by a Labour official for detail.

An email sent from a Labour official to MPs, seen by Robert Peston. Credit: Robert Peston / Twitter

What moderate MPs fear is that there is tacit support from Labour’s leadership for a purge of MPs from the right of the party.

They are worried that the suspension of the selection process in seats where there is already a vacancy will allow Labour’s ruling NEC to impose candidates it favours from the left shortly before the election (because there won’t be time for the normal selection process).

"They the leadership are more interested in deselecting MPs than defeating Tory ones in an election," one troubled Labour MP told me.

Maybe this is all cock-up rather than conspiracy.

But if it isn’t a concerted purge by Corbynistas and the left, it is still massively destabilising for Labour MPs as they prepare to go to the polls.

After seeing the above claims, a Labour source responded, saying to me that the "selection debacle is just one major cock-up".

HQ staff allegedly "misunderstood" what they were supposed to tell constituency parties and "f****d the whole thing up", such that "everyone is now up in arms".

Bit of a mess.