Who the hell is Owen Smith?

Submitted by AWL on 27 July, 2016 - 12:40 Author: Editorial

Well, indeed, that’s the point. Many of the opponents of Jeremy Corbyn inside the Parliamentary Labour Party have long records of supporting anti-working-class Labour governments. These people are unelectable as Labour leader.

Smith only became an MP in 2010 and so has not had time to get his hands conspicuously filthy on behalf of Brown or Blair. What we do know about Smith, however, is he is another pushy middle-class man on the make. From 2005-8 Smith made £80k per year working in a senior post for the drugs giant Pfizer. According to the Mail, “Mr Smith was head of government relations for the Pfizer pharmaceuticals company when it mounted legal action to force the Philippines authorities to pay $1 a pill for Norvasc, a hypertension medicine.

“The conglomerate began the action after the country tried to cut its health bill by importing the drug from India, where it cost 10 cents a pill.”

And when Smith started at Pfizer, “the company was embroiled in a storm over pricing South Africans out of AIDS medication by holding an anti-fungal drug under patent and selling it for £5 a capsule, compared with the non-patent price of 4p.”

Smith voted in favour of the government’s Trident renewal programme motion on 18 July 2016. Currently Smith is putting a left-face on, hoping to minimise the political gap between himself and Corbyn. Don’t be fooled! He’s fronting a campaign for right-wing MPs who will trample on internal Labour Party democracy, clamp down hard on the left, and take Labour back towards the Blair years. Do you want that? No! Vote Corbyn!

Vote Ann Black, organise the real left

Every other year, the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, an alliance of left groups in the Labour Party, issues a left-wing slate for the Labour National Executive Committee elections. This year, the slate, which Workers’ Liberty supports, is: Rhea Wolfson; Pete Willsman; Christine Shawcroft; Darren Williams; Claudia Webbe; Ann Black.

Ann Black, has generated some controversy recently. Black was a party to the Labour NEC’s move to undemocratically suspend the Brighton and Hove District Labour Party in response to the election of socialist Mark Sandell as Chair. In response, the Labour Representation Committee has declared that it will never support Black again. It is clear that the left needs to get its house in order: someone who votes in favour of factional witch-hunts is no leftwinger! Our standards need to be higher, and the process needs to be transparent and democratic. But the left should still support the CLGA NEC slate. Not voting for Ann Black will not have left-wing results: someone to Black’s right will get the spot instead. Vote Black — keep out the right!

Fight for democracy in Labour

70 people turned out to a packed out meeting organised at three days notice by the London region of Momentum in solidarity with the suspended Labour Parties in Brighton and Wallasey. The meeting, chaired by London Momentum chair and PCS activist Delia Mattis, was addressed by suspended Brighton District Labour Party chair Mark Sandell, Nick Wrack of the London Momentum committee (who has been expelled from the party) and left NEC candidate Rhea Wolfson.

It was attended by representatives of Momentum groups and Labour Parties across London, as well as some from further afield. Videos of the speeches should be online soon. The discussion focused on how to combine the strongest possible campaigning to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn with an organised fight to defend democracy in the party, but also how we transform Momentum into the kind of left organisation we need. After some debate, the meeting voted unanimously to:

1. Send messages of solidarity to Brighton, Wallasey and other Labour Parties suspended as part of the war against Corbyn and the left.

2. Call on Momentum’s London regional committee to discuss launching a broad campaign for the reinstatement of suspended Labour Parties, against expulsions and suspensions of left-wing activists and to defend Labour democracy.

We will carry updates soon.

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