The writing on the wall.

An appeal to Owen Smith and the PLP

I watched the first debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith and tried to keep an open mind. While I have supported Jeremy enthusiastically since he was first nominated for the leadership, I am not a blind follower (or cultist as some would have it). I supported him because his offer was to bring the Labour Party back to a position where it offered a real and genuine alternative to the Tories; something I felt had been lacking for far too long. However, I look at the party today with dismay, recognising that a divided party will not be viewed favourably by the electorate. For that reason, I wanted to hear the arguments against his leadership so I could form a balanced view on the best way forward. I wanted to hear how Owen Smith proposed to unite us.

I do not need to see any further debates. If my mind wasn’t made up before, it certainly is now. Owen Smith’s performance was a total shambles. The basis of his position was, ‘I agree with Jeremy on virtually everything with the exception of his position on Trident renewal and abiding by the result of the EU referendum.’ I paraphrase of course, but judging by the audience reaction, his Trident stance was far from popular and I know here in South Yorkshire, his position on the EU would see the Labour vote decimated. It got worse though. So wrapped up in himself, he even admonished the audience for daring to disapprove! Not, in my view, a great way to reach out for unity. A leader needs to be a persuader. Someone who can articulate his/her view with a calm and reasoned approach. On that score, Jeremy Corbyn not only won, but he trounced his opponent.

I accept that some readers will assume I am biased towards my preferred candidate, but honestly I really did try to give Owen Smith a fair hearing. I had been led to believe that as an orator he would be far more accomplished than the current leader. I not only found this to be untrue, but his delivery and demeanor throughout were woefully inadequate, especially under the circumstances of this debate. To resort to obvious smear tactics with the disgusting suggestion of anti-semitism being a symptom of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, followed by a ridiculous attempt to distance himself from the coup plotters, is an insult to the intelligence of hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members.

As is consistently true with Jeremy Corbyn, he called it right in responding to Owen Smith. In just three words, he summed up the sham of this challenge. “You walked away.” It is not credible for Owen Smith to blame jeremy Corbyn for the recent dramatic slump in opinion polls, point to party disunity as a cause and then also distance himself from the coup plot which offers him up as the alternative ‘unity’ candidate. If current polling is the honest reason why he is making this challenge to the elected leader, perhaps he ought to take his own advice. Not only will Jeremy Corbyn beat him, he will do so decisively. He has but one option to really save the Labour Party from splitting and in so doing save his own parliamentary career. Stand down, admit the coup has failed and pledge loyal support to the leader, the party and the membership. Only by doing so can any credibility be salvaged. Only by doing so can the party re-unite. Only by re-uniting behind the democratically elected leader is there any chance of electoral success.

Every single member of the Parliamentary Labour Party must now see that Owen Smith can not and will not dislodge Jeremy Corbyn. The writing is on the wall and even a blind man can see it. Every indicator relating to this challenge puts Jeremy Corbyn way ahead and that will not change. Each day that passes harms our party more and more. It is time to stop fighting each other and do the right thing. Get behind the leader and do what ever is necessary to enable him to lead a strong and united opposition. There is no other option that won’t cause further, possibly terminal, damage to our party and our electoral chances.

Every Labour MP needs to ask themselves a simple question.

‘Do you believe Owen Smith will beat Jeremy Corbyn?’

If the answer is ‘no’ then there is little acheived by continuing to support his damaging challenge? Surely it is time to reunite before it’s too late to salvage anything from this sorry mess we are in.

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