The paper trail that proves once and for all where Owen Smith’s allegiances lie

Owen Smith
Support us and go ad-free

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has tried to distance himself from the Blairite wing of the party throughout the contest. But it turns out that his campaign is funded by Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, along with a hedge-fund manager and a millionaire businessman, Electoral Commission data shows.

The paper trail seems to put an end to Smith’s posturing as a left-wing candidate.

The Pontypridd MP’s tactic was summarised by Matt Myers in Jacobin:

From cameo appearances in his campaign videos, to his family narrative, and references on the campaign trail, much work has gone into the “Bevanite” image Smith cultivates.

Bevanites are those who identify politically with Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan – a radical democratic socialist and architect of the NHS under the post-war Clement Attlee Labour government. By contrast, under Blair’s team, the private sector began to flourish within the NHS, schools were taken away from democratic local authority control, and tuition fees for universities were introduced.

So Smith’s campaign as a ‘Bevanite’ suggests he is at odds with the Blairites. Indeed, the Jeremy Corbyn camp suggests that the most used term in Smith’s campaign has been “I agree with Jeremy”.

But funding files show that Smith is bankrolled by Wegg-Prosser, who was Blair’s Director of Strategic Communications at Number 10.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Now, Wegg-Prosser is Peter Mandelson’s managing partner at Global Counsel, a lobbying firm for big business to influence government policy. The former spin doctor lent £10,000 to Labour Tomorrow Ltd, which in turn donated the money to Saving Labour, the anti-Corbyn organisation that recruited people to vote for Smith throughout the contest.

The Times reports that Labour Tomorrow itself supports Smith in the election. So far, Labour Tomorrow has donated £117,000 in total to Saving Labour. The organisation describes itself as follows:

Labour Tomorrow raises, coordinates and distributes funds for moderate centre-left organisations which are committed to rebuilding a consensus for a Labour government.

The anti-Corbyn commissioning group also enjoyed a £180,000 donation from hedge fund manager Martin Taylor.

When Corbyn was elected leader, Taylor donated £16,000 to Labour MP Dan Jarvis. Jarvis then voted to bomb Syria, after previously abstaining on the 2015 welfare bill – which enabled the Tories to make a further £12bn in austerity cuts.

Other donors include the former Liberal Democrat peer Matthew Oakeshott and Baron Myers, a millionaire businessman who was publisher for The Guardian and chairman of Marks & Spencer.

Labour Tomorrow was founded by Gordon Brown’s former aide Nicola Murphy, who is married to the former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie. Leslie has repeatedly sought to undermine Corbyn’s leadership, joining Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May in calling austerity ‘living within our means’.

From Smith’s former lobbying career at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, to a similar lobbying job at biotech firm Amgen, to saying he agreed with Blair on everything in a past interview, the leadership hopeful’s overnight journey to democratic socialism has always been rocky. Now, it turns out, his campaign is funded by the very same Blairites and millionaire backers who brought us NHS privatisation, tuition fees and academy schools.

Fortunately, Smith’s posturing appears to have failed. Voting for the leadership election has closed, with the results to be announced on Saturday 24 September. And all signs point to another Corbyn victory.

Get Involved!

– Read more from The Canary about the Labour Party, its leadership election, and its purge of potential Corbyn voters.

– Watch the full BBC Question Time debate between Smith and Corbyn here:

Featured image via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed