FacelessAlas Smith and Jones – the two Owens. That’s why I keep confusing their surnames. It doesn’t help that the Englishman has the Welsh surname and the Welshman has the English one. Yes, that’s how instantly forgettable the man who believes he can topple Jezza really is, that I confuse him with the baby-faced media socialist from ‘The North’ whenever he crops up in conversation. Anyway, let’s get the trivial factors out of the way.

Owen Smith looks like one of those half-dozen contenders who are first to throw their hat into the ring when there’s a leadership vacancy, the one nobody’s ever heard of, the one who’s there to make up the numbers; only, he isn’t Stephen Crabb. He didn’t drop out before a single vote had been cast. Now that Angela Eagle has returned to the charisma factory she was manufactured in, Owen Smith is the sole contender for Corbyn’s hollow crown. Unlike the Christian Tory who believes homosexuality is a curable illness but ‘sexting’ somebody who isn’t one’s spouse is permissible, Owen Smith doesn’t even have a ridiculous claim to fame. I can’t get worked up about what a nonentity he is. When I see Donald Trump and his supporters, I see a Nuremberg Rally; I feel like I’m looking at Hitler on a cinema newsreel in the 30s and I shudder because I know what comes next. When I see Owen Smith, I see the bloke behind the building society counter asking me if I’ve ever considered a credit card when I’m withdrawing my last four-and-a half quid.

Lest we forget, however, he is normal – as he emphasised when launching his pitch this week. He’s got a wife and kids and has already raffled them as political collateral before the cameras. Angela Eagle, AKA ‘Mrs Civil Partnership’, can’t do that, can she? He’s Welsh, of course – just like his hero Nye Bevan; funny how that particular Welsh Labour name keeps cropping up in the same sentence as Smith, rather than Neil Kinnock (Once elected as an MP with a Welsh constituency, Smith at least made sure he quickly relocated to the Land of his Fathers from Surrey). As an orator and presence, he generates the same kind of confidence in the viewer as Ed Miliband managed so masterfully for five years. Hell, yeah.

The son of a Welsh historian and broadcaster, Smith attended a state school, but his first brush with politics after working both for the BBC and as a lobbyist for a couple of pharmaceutical companies was as a Spad for MP Paul Murphy in his roles as Secretary of State for Wales and then Northern Ireland. His early public pronouncements on all things political included a thumbs-up for the archetypal Blairite project for the NHS, the Private Finance Initiative, as well as initial approval for the invasion of Iraq.

Smith’s eventual entrance into Westminster came via the safe seat of Pontypridd in 2010, and he was made Shadow Secretary for Wales by Ed Miliband in 2012. Jeremy Corbyn gave him the job that bestowed household name status upon him – Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions – after ascending to the Labour leadership last year, a post Smith held until joining the Shadow Cabinet exodus in the wake of the Brexit vote.

As the fusty old Conservative Party elected its second female leader and consequently gave the country a woman as PM for a second time – 2-0, as the late Dave gloated in the Commons – Labour’s alleged reputation as the promoter of minorities and testicle-free individuals has left us once again with a white man challenging a white man for the top job. And Smith wants Claus IV reborn, incorporating a pledge to tackle inequality into the party’s constitution; not applicable where the party’s leadership is concerned, apparently. According to Smith himself, he shares many of Corbyn’s core values; if that’s the case, what’s the point in replacing Jezza as leader with someone who oozes even less charm and personality than the bearded wonder? Isn’t the aim of a potential new leader to distinguish himself from the man he hopes to succeed? Theresa May seems to have taken that on board in record time.

The hustings begin in a couple of days, with the promise of some truly electrifying platform performances from the secular Ayatollah who could fart into a microphone and still elicit euphoric adulation from his disciples, and from the challenger about whom it’s physically, mentally and medically impossible to get remotely excited. Both are supporting cast members; neither are leading men. And yet, top of the bill is exactly what they’re fighting for. Who will be Prime Minister if a General Election is called in the autumn or the spring? I’ll wager she’ll have a penchant for kitten heels. Who will be Leader of the Opposition? Which Opposition is that, then?

© The Editor

4 thoughts on “OWEN WHO?

  1. Just picture it. It’s Saturday night and everyone’s in town. There they are, the rabble by the bar, Bliar, Campbell (the never elected one), Mandelson,Angela Eagle all shoving poor little Owen to go and dance with the woman they’ve all been watching for ages – go on Owen, don’t be daft, go and dance with her …. all pushing and shoving poor little Owen to do something that they themselves want to do instead.

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    1. The problem with that analogy is that none of those ‘propping up the bar’ actually want to dance with that one, they’re scared shitless that they’ll be beaten to a pulp and their ‘dancing days’ would then be over, labelled for all time as a ‘loser’. If little Owen does manage to pull her, they’ll then leap out of the shadows and shove their expendable agent back into his little box, while one of the big bar-proppers takes over to finish the job.
      In reality, they’re just setting up young Owen to take the predictable pasting so they can then go off to dance in another club, one with a different atmosphere, one that plays music more to their liking, more middle-of-the-road stuff, less edgy, the stuff that won’t frighten the horses on voting day. Because they would prefer to get elected and get power, the other dancer would rather get frustrated, but get cheered a lot, at a lot of demos.
      As for Owen, the obscurity from which he arose awaits his return.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. how’s this then ….

    Corbyn: Media Watch
    1 hr ·

    Liza Van Zyl, a disability rights activist has made the following statement:

    “Owen Smith needs to be challenged robustly on his position on the Work Capability Assessment and on his commitment to disabled people’s rights. I was a Labour Party activist who had no choice but to resign from the party after a very unpleasant encounter with Mr Smith. I am recounting it now because I believe it is very important that his views are robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership.

    On Saturday 7th March 2015 I attended a Labour meeting in Pontypridd at which the guest speaker was Owen Smith MP, then shadow secretary of state for Wales. When questions were invited from the floor, I asked Mr Smith why, given that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been responsible for a great many more deaths than the Bedroom Tax, Labour had pledged to scrap the Bedroom Tax but had said nothing about pledging to scrap the WCA. Mr Smith replied that Labour could not pledge to scrap the WCA because this would make Labour appear weak on benefits in the eyes of the media and compromise Labour’s general-election chances.

    I posted this on Facebook and a journalist took it up and posted the story online. Subsequently the journalist was threatened with legal action by Mr Smith if he did not take the story down. I was very intimidated by the prospect of defending myself in court, and I had no money for a legal defence. In addition my Labour colleagues were terribly keen to maintain good relations with Mr Smith and would probably have backed Mr Smith and not me if it came to a court case (one of them had even contacted the journalist and briefed against me). So I asked the journalist to pull the story and I deleted references to it on Facebook.

    I am publicising this incident now because I am very concerned about Mr Smith’s attitude toward disabled people and particularly to his views that the deaths of disabled people are less important than Labour’s “tough on benefits” standing in the right wing press. If he threatens me with legal action again it will be incredibly stressful and will probably exacerbate my disability-related ill-health. But I believe it is important that Mr Smith’s attitudes to the WCA and to disability rights (and freedom of speech!) be robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership. And because we should be able to discuss things that profoundly impact on us, like the WCA, without being intimidated into silence by threats of legal action. I am happy to provide more details to journalists who can contact me at lvanzyl55@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

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