Springingtiger's Blog

Thoughts On The Gateshead Hustings.


I watched the live stream of today’s Labour leadership hustings from Gateshead. Afterwards I posted a couple of comments from Hootsuite, but I deliberately didn’t go into Twitter because I didn’t want my thoughts to be influenced by anyone until after I had captures them in the raw.

To give credit where credit is due, Owen Smith performed well for the most part. I liked the policies he was putting forward, most of them appear to have originated from the Corbyn left wing of the party, but all the time I had the nagging thought that he is a very recent convert to socialism. I don’t get that there is any consistency in Smith’s position whereas with Corbyn his whole life is in alignment with his policies and stated beliefs. I want to believe Smith, but on his record I find myself suspicious of his conversion to socialism.

Owen Smith and the right claim Corbyn is unelectable, however if –as they claim – the country didn’t elect Labour because their policies were too left wing, why would they vote for Owen Smith who is putting forward the same left wing policies as Jeremy Corbyn? The only difference is that we know Jeremy Corbyn is standing for what he believes, whereas there is a strong suspicion that Owen Smith will quickly ditch his newly adopted socialist policies again in order to make himself electable.

I was a little disappointed at one point by Jeremy Corbyn. When Smith was talking about the importance of opposing the Tories I think Jeremy should have asked him why he just sat on his hands and watched as the Tories passed their Welfare Bill. Corbyn and the left actually did oppose the Bill and voted against it. Sometimes I wonder if Jeremy isn’t too decent and too noble, but he has a strong moral code and he doesn’t hit below the belt.

I have to confess I gave up voting for the Labour Party a long time ago and my last few votes were because I respected the candidate as a person despite them representing Labour. I used to love the Labour Party, I was a very active member, but the day came when it dawned on me that it was pointless to support them because they had become just another party of business. It is small surprise they never sing the Red Flag beyond the first verse and chorus because they might choke on the words of the fourth verse:

It suits today the weak and base

Whose minds are fixed on self and place;

To cringe before the rich man’s frown,

And haul the sacred emblem down.”

Whenever I sing it I see before me Tony Blair’s New Labour and his acolytes in the Parliamentary Party as they try to cling to control of the Party whose values they perverted. I am not saying labour should be some sort of revolutionary Marxist party, But it should be the peoples party, the workers’ party. Labour was built by the trades Unions and their members, its roots lie more in nonconformist Christianity than in Marxist theory and its founding fathers travelled the country with all the zeal of Weslyan preachers. When I look at Jeremy Corbyn I see that zeal, when I look at his supporters I see the vision that brought the labour Party into being and gave us the National Health Service, council housing, education accessible to all. I look and listen to Owen Smith, I want to believe he shares the vision, but I’m not convinced. I see how the establishment has launched a war on Jeremy Corbyn and all he stands for and I see Owen Smith on the wrong side of that war. I want to like him, but I cannot bring myself to trust him.

However much Owen Smith impressed me, and he did impress me, he’s a very good performer, he totally destroyed that on the last question when in his answer he made it clear that regardless of how the party votes in the leadership election, rather than work with Jeremy Corbyn to unite the part and take the fight to the Tories, he would prefer to continue to stay out of the shadow cabinet and undermine Jeremy Corbyn from the back benches. However much I had been willing to see Owen Smith as a possible leader, at that point all his words suddenly rang hollow. It was as if after everything he said he ended with “Oh and by the way I’ve been lying to you all the time and I think you’re stupid enough to let me get away with it!” I have always been inclined to prefer Corbyn, I must admit, but now I am actually opposed to Owen Smith. I don’t want to be, I want to believe he’s a good man, but I have sincere doubts about him. I could well vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party, but it would depend on their position on Scottish Independence.

However I will watch the other debates before I make a final judgement, I hope they will clarify whether they could accept Scottish Independence should the Scots call for it. I can’t help but feel that the final nail in Scottish Labour’s coffin was sharing a platform with the Tories in Better Together, a trap Corbyn didn’t fall into over the EU Referendum. I would also like to hear how they will handle a post Brexit Britain. Owen Smith tonight made it very clear that he will block Brexit if he gets the opportunity whereas Corbyn respects the democratic will of the people, but seems intent on mitigating the damage it might do. Id like to hear their proposals for protecting human rights post Brexit.

This is going to be an interesting summer!


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