During a week in which the true nature of Camembert and the myth of flossing were high profile stories, we were made very aware that summer is here and the news overload following Brexit has finally subsided (for now, anyway).
United in Unity
This week’s main event was the next chapter in the Labour leadership saga. Last night in Cardiff Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, both claiming to be in the red corner, clashed at the first Labour leadership campaign hustings.
Standing behind podiums, symbolically far apart, both candidates took quick-fire questions from party members. Both Smith and Corbyn emphasised the need for unity. However, the debate only underlined the deep divisions within the party.
The gloves were off as Smith highlighted how the party had fallen to 14 points behind the Conservatives in the polls, that two million Labour voters would prefer Theresa May as Prime Minister, and how the party had failed to put in place a “programme” to convince voters to put their trust in Labour.
“I want us to be looked at by the country as a credible, respected opposition and a Labour government in waiting. I want us to be radical in government, not radical in protesting against the Tories” he said.
Corbyn’s 10-point Vision Plan
In response to Smith’s plan to create a £200 billion “British new deal” to invest in housing, transport and people, Corbyn has hit back this week by re-announcing his plan for £500 billion in public spending while unveiling his 10-point vision plan for Britain.
At a business park in Dagenham, Corbyn yesterday pledged the money would be used to build new homes, boost the NHS and reduce income divisions. Managed by a new national investment bank it would help create a hi-tech and green-based economy.
While Corbyn has insisted that his plan would be financed by a resultant stronger economy and by cracking down on tax evasion, it is worth noting that Smith’s £200 billion pledge would almost double the record deficit between 2009-10 of £154 billion.
It is clear that Corbyn’s claim Labour are now offering a clear economic alternative to the Conservatives cannot be denied.
The Next Round
Although neither emerged unscathed from the first head-to-head, both Smith and Corbyn are still fighting fit and the tension will only rise between the pair as they prepare for the next debate on 11th August in Gateshead.
Labour leadership election timetable
As well as the five remaining debates the key dates to be aware of are:
- 22 August: Ballot papers start to be sent out in the post (party members and registered supporters only) and by email
- 21 September: Deadline for ballot papers to be returned is midday
- 24 September: The result will be announced at a special conference in Liverpool