Friday 22 July 2016

Owen Smith's out-of-touch Sports Direct comments

Owen Smith's bizarre below-the-belt dig at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership for being like Sports Direct just goes to show how utterly out-of-touch some of these coup plotter MPs are.

These people earn £75,000 a year, plus tens of thousands more in expenses, plus tens of thousands more if they hold positions in the shadow cabinet. Some of them who were parachuted into safe Labour constituencies essentially have jobs for life. Most of the others can look forward to retirement in the £300 per day (tax-free) unelected House of Lords, or cushy consultancies at PR firms or corporations hoping to cash in on their political connections.

In contrast 90% of Sports Direct employees are on insecure Zero Hours Contracts. The company was recently slammed for illegally paying workers less than the minimum wage and treating their staff like sub-humans. Staff were subjected to humiliating searches and left so afraid of losing their jobs that they avoided taking toilet breaks. One woman was so fearful about her job that she gave birth in a toilet cubicle. Other women were even promised permanent contracts in return for sexual favours.

The Labour coup plotters don't like their boss. They resent the fact that Labour Party members chose a man they don't want to work with. Several of them flatly refused to serve in his shadow cabinet from day one. Others damaged the party by constantly briefing against the party leadership in the press. Others engaged in a grubby sequence of pre-planned resignations designed to bully their boss into quitting just at a time when the country most needed the opposition to speak with a unified voice in condemnation of the Tories. Others have deliberately fabricated evidence of "abuse" in order to inflict as much damage as possible on the party they pretend to love.

Anyone who has worked for private companies in the past (Sports Direct or otherwise) knows damned well that inflicting this scale of damage on the company reputation would lead to immediate sacking, yet when it comes to the appalling behaviour of these MPs Jeremy Corbyn is still offering to forgive and forget.

Nobody is claiming that Jeremy Corbyn is perfect, he's only been in the leadership job for ten months. He's been learning on the job and made mistakes along the way. Of course he's not going to have become an ideal boss in such a short amount of time, but comparisons with Mike Ashley and the management of Sports Direct as quite frankly ridiculous.

By making such a hyperbolic and frankly insulting comparison Owen Smith has demonstrated that he's completely out of touch with the reality faced by millions of exploited low-income workers across the UK. It's no wonder that five million voters abandoned the Labour Party between 1997 and 2010 when the Party has bred such complacency that MPs are prepared to use the plight of exploited workers just to score cheap political points within the Westminster bubble. 

What cheek they have to compare their own privileged position in society to the employees of one of the most ruthlessly exploitative companies in Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn is one of the only high profile political figures who seems genuine in his concerns for the working poor, yet his opponents within the Labour Party are determined to show how out of touch with reality that they are by comparing their own plight to the the workers of a company that has been described as a 21st Century workhouse.

They're so insulated within their own bubble of wealth and privilege that they're seriously comparing their own privileged situations to the plight of some of the most unfortunate workers in Britain. What makes this behaviour all the more insulting is that understanding the plight of, and defending exploited workers is the exact purpose the Labour Party was originally built for.

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