Thursday 28 July 2016

Why is Owen Smith pilfering Jeremy Corbyn's policies

It's undeniable that Owen Smith has been imitating Jeremy Corbyn's policies on a number of issues. Ending ideological austerity, an investment fund for infrastructure, opposition to exploitative Zero Hours Contracts, bans on exclusive recruitment abroad for jobs in the UK, wealth taxes and now even the highly specific policy of introducing a Ministry of Labour, loads of Owen Smith's policies are indistinguishable from Jeremy Corbyn's.

Misleading propaganda

Given that the Blairite faction of the Labour Party and the mainstream media have conducted an intensive propaganda war to try to portray Jeremy Corbyn as some kind of dangerously radical extremist, how on earth are they allowing Owen Smith to pillage Corbyn's policies without whining that he's an extremist too?

How is it possible that one guy is supposedly a "dangerous fanatic", but the guy imitating most of the supposedly dangerous and fanatical policies is a "moderate" and the only hope of saving Labour?

The constant pillaging of Jeremy Corbyn's policies by his Blairite backed rival exposes just how inaccurate most of the anti-Corbyn propaganda has been over the last year. If he really was as bad as they kept claiming, they wouldn't be copying most of his policies, they wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.

The Blairite U-turn on austerity vs investment 

In 2015 the Blairite former interim shadow chancellor Chris Leslie's savagely attacked Corbyn's policy of using quantitative easing cash to invest directly in infrastructure and services (rather than just handing it to the private banks and naively hoping that they invest in useful things rather than the inflation of asset and housing bubbles as was done last time). Leslie wasn't the only one either. Yvette Cooper (the wife of the guy who came up with Ed Miliband's hopelessly uninspiring and election-losing austerity-lite strategy for the 2015 General Election) also bitterly criticised the Corbyn/McDonnell plan to boost the economy by directly investing in infrastructure and services.

Owen Smith has been promising a £200 billion investment in infrastructure and services as one of his flagship policies. Are Chris Leslie and Yvette Cooper apoplectic with rage about this plan? Of course they're not. They're supporting Owen Smith.

There are only a few explanations for this radical shift from phlegm specked condemnation from the Blairites in 2015 to active support for a guy pushing investment rather than austerity economics in 2016.

  • Over the past year the likes of Leslie and Cooper have come over to Corbyn's strategic investment position because the Tory "let's cut our way to growth" agenda is falling out of fashion (thanks to some actual opposition to it from the opposition party after 5 years of feeble hand-wringing from Miliband's team). This would imply that Corbyn is actually a very good communicator who even managed to convince people who absolutely detest him to change their economic views.
  • The likes of Leslie and Cooper always knew that Corbyn was right about austerity being a load of ideologically driven rubbish, but they were prepared to attack him for his anti-austerity position because back in 2015 the opinion polls said that austerity was still believed in by the Tory voters they want Labour to appeal to.
  • They still secretly agree with Tory austerity but they're pretending to like Smith's Corbynite investment plans because they know that the only way to beat Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership election is to imitate his policies in order to nick his supporters. If this is the case I guess they're confident that Smith will ditch his investment plans after the leadership election is over, and go back to promoting the kind of right-wing Tory style economic policies the Blairite faction is keen on.
Blame the symptoms, not the cause

Owen Smith's policy of restructuring the DWP as the Ministry of Labour is such a blatant steal it's ridiculous. Corbyn promoted that policy back in August 2015 and the Shadow Chancellor  John McDonnell committed to the IER recommendations to introduce a Ministry of Labour in June 2016.

Several Anyone But Corbyn supporters have claimed that it's a sign of Corbyn's poor communication that they hadn't heard of the policies that Owen Smith is now copying, but it's hard to spread the message about your policies when only 11% of all newspaper articles bother to accurately report what your policies are.

Blaming Corbyn for the lack of fair coverage he gets in the corporate mainstream media is almost as crackers as blaming him for the catastrophic Labour slump in the polls since the inept Anyone But Corbyn coup was launched (imagine suffering such tunnel vision that you couldn't spot the link between an ill-timed, ineptly conducted and highly damaging internal party coup attempt and a subsequent slump in the poll numbers).


One thing that it is worth noting is that Owen Smith's pilfering of Corbyn's policies means that if you now conduct Internet searches for some of Corbyn's policies, the results are completely dominated about articles about Owen Smith's reiterations of Corbyn's policies.

Here are a couple of examples:

Given the staggering ineptitude of the Anyone But Corbyn coup, it's hard to imagine that this cyber-squatting in Jeremy Corbyn's search engine results is deliberate, but it's now a definite factor that people searching for detail of Corbyn's policies end up being confronted by reams of mainstream media articles about Owen Smith's versions of the same policies.

Ideological flexibility

My last (and probably most important) point is that Owen Smith is a political chameleon who will do and say whatever he thinks is necessary in order to serve his own political interests.

Today he's pretending to be a radical progressive socialist because he knows that's exactly what he needs to do in order to have even the remotest chance of ousting Jeremy Corbyn in a vote amongst Labour members. But before he was playing this "radical leftie" character he was a full-bore Blairite who in 2006 expressed support for right-wing policies like PFI and the privatisation of the state education system couldn't even bring himself to criticise the failings of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

If Smith can switch from being a loyal Blairite parroting apologia for right-wing policies like PFI and privatisation of the education system to being a radical leftie pushing left-wing Corbynite policies, how on earth could anyone trust him to not switch back to right-wing Blairism again once he's duped people into voting for him, especially given that his leadership bid is backed by every Blairite in the Labour Party?

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