Friday, 22 July 2016

How unpopular is Owen Smith?

Letter sent to the "i" newspaper

Your  short profile of Labour Party leadership candidate Owen Smith (i,21 July) incorrectly stated that he was defeated by a former Labour MP in the south Wales seat of Blaenau Gwent in a  2006 by-election.
In fact Smith lost to Dai Davies ( for whom I later  worked as a researcher) who had been a staff member for Peter Law, a former  Labour MP and Wales Assembly member (AM), who had won the seat as an independent from Labour,  in the 2005  General Election, only to sadly die of a brain tumour a year later. Local politician Law has fallen out with Labour, who had imposed an all women short-list on the constituency, and parachuted in a candidate, Margaret Jones,  who lived in Sussex .

She was rewarded for failure by  being made a  Labour Baroness , and has since totally disappeared from public life.

With his self-proclaimed local valleys background, it might have been expected Owen Smith would have done much better than Jones against Dai Davies, but he too was parachuted in from Surrey. Dai  Davies won despite spending ten times less on his campaign than Smith, who had many Cabinet ministers visit the constituency in his support.

Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell  ("The Talented Mr Smith" i, 21 July) proclaims from his lobbyist perch that Smith is now ideally suited to lead the whole Labour Party. In so doing he  repeats the same bad judgment he  demonstrated over the Iraq invasion.

As history has demonstrated already, Owen Smith does not resonate with the voters Labour needs to win back to win the next election, and he certainly won't resonate with  Labour's recently expanded internal electorate.

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