The aim, clearly, is to reduce the ballot to: which face would you like to see at PMQs? Perky, untested, bland, technocratic Owen, or gnarled, unpredictable Jeremy? The massive differences in policy, strategy and class orientation signalled by the emergence of Labour Tomorrow are not to be allowed to surface in the actual election itself.
Thus, Smith’s campaign has been designed as Jeremy Lite. Nearly as left wing as Corbyn, only competent at playing the parliamentary game. Close to Corbyn, but a bit “more patriotic” and less “metropolitan”.
To facilitate the illusion that this is about two left wingers with marginal disagreements, something else had to go quiet: the tabloid media. There has been almost no right-wing criticism of Smith’s faux-left programme in the papers.
Indeed, this is so, when the time comes, he will move aside to allow for the Progress candidate, with a set of policies that will "be tougher on benefits than the Tories" and "ask difficult questions about the NHS" etc. while simultaneously purging half the membership and ridding itself of any internal democracy.
If Corbyn is defeated it will be Peter Mandelson, Brenda Dean and David Blunkett calling the shots.
What’s Owen’s relationship to Progress, Saving Labour and Labour Tomorrow?
The elephant in the room is that "moderates" know damn well what that relationship is. That is why their mantra of "it's not about policies" has an element of truth to it. They know full well that whatever Owen Smith promises today, Dan Hodges or Tristram Hunt can naysay tomorrow.
It’s the same over Smith’s call for a second referendum. The pro-Brexit tabloids would normally be eviscerating any Labour figure who called, effectively, for people to be made to “vote until they vote the right way”. But they’re silent over this.
Revealingly, the second referendum call is the kind of gestural trick that you can only pull off if you’ve no chance of winning. What if people vote for Brexit again? — Smith has no answer and is never asked.
Because they all know that will never happen.
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I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. 'That’s easy,' he replied. 'When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'