I mention at the start this is an opinion piece as I wish to make it clear that everything you see in this post and generally speaking my blog is what I personally believe and I expect anyone who reads it to form their own opinions. I wish to make clear specifically that I receive no monetary benefit from writing this post and am in no way affiliated to the Owen Smith for Leader Campaign or any other group apart from The Labour Party though I do volunteer for some campaigning.
I had the pleasure of seeing Owen Smith in action when he visited Blackburn on 20th August 2016. Mr Smith spoke for a short time where he highlighted his policies and what direction Labour would take under his leadership and left those attending in no doubt whatsoever the ultimate aim and the only one that matters in politics: to form a Labour government to ensure our principles are enacted to change peoples’ lives for the better.
The highlight of this event though was undoubtedly the question and answer session that followed. Mr Smith was under no delusions from the very moment he walked in the room that he would face some tough questions, for sitting in the first row were a few people wearing Jeremy Corbyn t-shirts. In all honesty I must say I was glad they were, as Owen Smith needs to convince them rather than his own supporters, whether they came away thinking any differently is not for me to assume but I hope they were.
During this question and answer session Mr Smith was challenged on a number of occasions in some ways very aggressively by Jeremy Corbyn supporters. I believe that should be a fundamental part of Labour politics that we can challenge those that lead us without any repercussion whatsoever or threats of such. Mr Smith personally showed his calibre when dealing with issues relating to how this leadership challenge actually went ahead. He made it clear whilst there were some within the PLP that had it out for Mr Corbyn from day 1, he wasn’t one of them. That he worked on the shadow cabinet with Jeremy to challenge the tories and hold them to account. He was not afraid to tell ordinary members that they had their facts wrong in certain instances for claims that the Labour Party was ahead in the polls before this leadership challenge are just absurd.
There was one moment that I will never forget from this event when a member posed a question to Mr Smith and I quote here “ I did not come here expecting to be inspired but that is exactly what you have done” followed by her question. For me therein lies the crux of Owen Smith and his leadership challenge. Not many people, myself included knew much about Mr Smith before this election but that has now changed. He has highlighted the number one priority of any opposition leader should be to put Labour back into power thus enacting our principles instead of speaking about them.