Owen Smith just made the most ridiculous claim yet in his Labour leadership campaign

Emily Apple

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has made the most absurd claim of his campaign yet. According to Smith, he’s “just as radical as Jeremy Corbyn.” Sadly, his track record says otherwise.

Registration has now closed for voting as a supporter in the Labour party leadership elections. Despite increasing the charge from £3 to £25, and limiting the time period for registering to 48 hours, over 183,000 have signed up. This far exceeds the 113,000 who registered last time, and is equivalent to one person joining per second.

Owen Smith is now the only person challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour party leadership. He is claiming to be a “unity” candidate who will be “just as radical as Jeremy Corbyn”. However, examining their records, it doesn’t take much to realise that Smith is far from a “radical” option – something even the police would agree with.

In fact, the only way one could possibly view Smith as radical is if you ignore everything he’s ever done. Or if you want to spin radical to mean a middle of the road centre-leftist.

Smith’s background as previously reported in The Canary was as a lobbyist with the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, where he earned £80,000 a year. During this time, he defended private investment in the NHS and the monopolisation and overpricing of life-saving drugs.

Prior to working for Pfizer, Smith was a news producer for the BBC. While working for the Today programme, he dialled 999 in an incredibly misguided attempt to get a quote from the police.

Then there’s his actual record in politics. He is pro-trident, saying he would be willing to press the button. Yes, being willing to kill thousands of people is now supposed to be a “radical” position.

Furthermore, he doesn’t offer any hope to the thousands of the poorest people who have been hit by austerity. Interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show, he said: “Austerity is right”. As Editor-in-Chief of The Canary, Kerry-anne Mendoza, wrote:

Austerity is an economic and social train wreck. A political choice, not an economic necessity, which has wrought absolute disaster on working and formerly middle class communities across the country, and the world. Under an Owen Smith government, British voters can expect more of the same.

The only thing Smith seems to have done which could be counted as “radical”, is to march with the miners. And that was when he was a teenager. Oh, and he claims he wouldn’t have voted to support the Iraq war – but that’s both easy to say in hindsight, and there’s been nothing to suggest he joined the million people who protested against that unjust and illegal war.

Meanwhile, Corbyn’s record speaks for itself. Before becoming an MP, he worked as a trade union official. He has spoken up on countless occasions for the poor and the dispossessed. He has vocally opposed wars, trident, and austerity. Furthermore, he has advocated for human rights and against dictators across the world – while the rest of parliament were busy granting export licenses to the arms companies fuelling the conflicts.

And, it hasn’t just been in parliament; Corbyn hasn’t just been on one march when he was 14, he’s been on hundreds, often speaking about the causes he is passionate about. He was arrested during an anti-apartheid protest outside the South African embassy in 1984 – and was later awarded compensation for wrongful arrest.

Even the police agree that Corbyn is radical. According to former undercover officer turned whistleblower, Peter Francis, Corbyn was one of 10 MPs that the Metropolitan police kept records on. This is also confirmed in a Criminal Intelligence Report compiled by the Met Police as a general purpose criminal database, which lists Corbyn as a speaker at a Gaza protest.

While Corbyn has done nothing to warrant being on a criminal database or being monitored by the police – it is more a sign of the level of state surveillance on anyone involved in campaigning –  it certainly shows his connection to radical politics are more than a shade stronger than Smith’s.

If you have paid your £25 to vote in the leadership battle and want a centre-left candidate who has formerly been in the pocket of big business, then vote for Smith. But do it with open eyes that this is what you are voting for. He is not a radical figure and we should not and will not fall for the spin.

However, if you want a truly radical candidate who will oppose austerity, and attempt to promote real alternatives, then Corbyn is the only candidate who will even attempt to deliver this.

Get involved.

Sign the petition in support of Jeremy Corbyn, if you agree.

Featured image via Wikimedia and Flickr/Gary Knight

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