“I am normal” announced Owen Smith, as he launched his bid to become leader of the Labour party.
Aside from his proud declaration having Leadsom-levels of cringe, it was a woefully feeble opening card to play in the battle that will define his, and the Labour party’s, political futures.
Who would have believed that in 2016 the only two contenders for the leadership of the Labour party would be proudly talking-up their socialist credentials? Well, nobody; and they would have been correct. Only one is a socialist. His opponent is a cuckoo in the nest.
Jeremy Corbyn, whether you like him or not, is authentic. His political positions are long established and well known. The views of Smith, on the other hand, are less well known, yet firmly in the centre-right of the party. Well, they were until earlier this week.
In order to try and win over Corbyn’s vast grassroots support, Smith claimed on Wednesday that we need a “cold-eyed, practical, socialist revolution.” You can only imagine the contorted faces of Hunt, Umunna, Cooper, Kendall, Benn, and McGinn, as though hearing nails being scraped down a blackboard. They will console themselves by remembering that they will have to listen to such heresies for just a few more weeks.
Smith claims that he will end the practice of zero-hours contracts. Who could complain about that? It sounds impressive until you hear the caveat:
“It could be one hour, but I’m saying it shouldn’t be zero.”
Most jobs that are effectively zero hours do not fall into the very narrow definition of what the government has laid down; ie one or four hour contracts. It would seem that Smith is content to end zero-hours contracts by legal loopholes and smoke and mirrors. He is a Charlatan – and not a very good one.
He has revealed himself as a brazen and opportunistic chameleon; a human weathervane; following Corbyn’s agenda, rather than setting his own. His lustreless campaign has become Xerox machine; copying policies en masse, hoping that nobody will notice, or god forbid – remember them if he ever manages to become prime minister.
Watching his drab, stage-managed press conferences, I half expected a junior staffer to interrupt and shout:
“Hey Owen, the late 1990’s called. They want their white shirt, no tie, and rolled-up sleeve routine, back.”
Politics has had enough of smarmy sales people whose teeth give off a cartoon sparkle every time they force a toothpaste advert smile.
This news does not appear to have reached Smith, who seems hell-bent on projecting himself as a Tony Blair-style messiah; albeit one without charm, charisma, or new ideas.
The excruciating sight of choreographed hand gestures and furrowed brows, designed to show how serious and earnest he is while surrounded by a band of teenagers straight from a modelling agency, wearing his plain branded t-shirts, and holding his plain posters – smiling inanely on demand – is straight out of the ‘Ladybird Book of Corporate Presentation Cliches.’
Owen Smith is just a bag-man for big pharma-turned politician, lacquered in snake oil, but lacking in ideas or sincerity.
When discussing Theresa May’s performance at a recent prime minister’s questions, Smith – using ill-considered language – stated that he wanted to “smash her back on her heels”. This Mr Bean on steroids couldn’t smash the skin off a rice pudding.
I don’t believe him, I don’t trust him – and I don’t buy him.