Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Labour 'risks handing Tories power for 20 years if Corbyn is re-elected'

Published 04/09/2016

Jeremy Corbyn is looking to be re-elected Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn is looking to be re-elected Labour leader

Labour risks handing the Tories power for 20 years if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as leader, challenger Owen Smith has warned.

And Mr Smith said that Britain would be "unrecognisable" if Conservatives are able to govern without an effective opposition until 2030 and beyond.

The Pontypridd MP published a spoof Tory manifesto detailing the agenda he believes Theresa May could offer at the 2020 general election, featuring public spending reductions, tax cuts for the wealthy, reduced workplace rights, increased selection in schools, charges for NHS services and the abandonment of Britain's 0.7% overseas aid target.

"It's eminently foreseeable that without a strong opposition to the Conservative Party, this sort of radical right-wing agenda would be the one they would seek to apply to Britain - and it's an ugly vision of what Britain could become without a Labour opposition," said Mr Smith, who is trailing Mr Corbyn in the polls for the leadership contest ending on September 24.

"I think Britain would be unrecognisable at the end of that era. I think they could have transformed this country for the worse.

"All of us - Jeremy, myself, everybody in the Labour Party - has got a pressing duty to think hard about what we are doing. We cannot mistake the mass rallies that Jeremy has gathered for the mass movement we need to gather of 12 or 13 million people voting Labour in order to stop this becoming reality."

In a campaign speech in London, Mr Smith urged Labour members and supporters not to "cede the pitch to the Tories for a generation" by re-electing Mr Corbyn.

"There is a risk that if Jeremy does win this contest, we are back at Groundhog Day, with Labour divided, with Jeremy unable to fulfil that most fundamental task of the leader of the Labour Party - holding together the coalition that is Labour - and making this a powerful united voice," he said.

Mr Smith warned that the gains made by successive L abour governments over the past 100 years - and not just the Blair and Brown administrations - were "all in jeopardy right now".

"We face a very real danger that we could be entering another period, as we did during my teenage years during the 1980s, of a generation - 20 years perhaps - of the Tories. The prospect of Labour not returning to power until 2025 or even 2030," he said.

"That isn't a future I'm prepared to contemplate. It's at the heart of why I'm standing in this contest and I'm determined I'm going to win this contest and make the case for a powerful Labour government in this country. Not a weak opposition, a credible opposition, one the country can look at and say `These are the people we think would make a difference to Britain'."

Mr Smith dismissed proposals for a basic income guarantee, which shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he is ready to consider for the next Labour manifesto.

"I've looked at the arithmetic and I can't see that this works," he said. "It's a lovely sounding policy, but it is another example of John and Jeremy not being credible on economic policies."

The leadership contender attempted to brush off questions about his attitude to women, following a series of gaffes including a tweet suggesting that a gobstopper would be a perfect present for Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Pointing to the presence of a number of senior female figures in his campaign team, Mr Smith said it was "absolutely not" the case that he had a problem with women. And he described the gobstopper jibe as "a bit of a political banter".

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph