Owen Smith's policies are copied from Corbyn, says Labour leader's team

Jeremy Corbyn Global Justice

Owen Smith has copied his new policy ideas on workers’ rights from Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader’s campaign team has suggested.

Smith, who is challenging Corbyn for the party leadership, unveiled a series of policies at a speech in Orgreave, including the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour and a ban on recruiting workers exclusively from abroad.

But Corbyn’s campaign said these ideas had already been unveiled by the Labour leader and his close team over the last few months.

A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign said: “We welcome Owen’s focus on equality of outcome, reindustrialisation and workers’ rights – and his support for policies announced in recent months by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

“We are delighted that he has echoed John McDonnell’s call for the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour, made last month at the Institute of Employment Rights, and Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a ban on exclusive workforce recruitment from abroad, made during the referendum campaign, among other policies.”

He added: “Owen’s speech today shows the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated in placing economic justice and fairness back at the heart of Labour politics.”

A YouGov poll for the Times has suggested that about 2.5 million people who voted Labour at the last general election now prefer the Tory leadership of Theresa May to the Labour leadership provided by Corbyn.

The poll put support for the Conservatives at 40%. Labour is at 28%, its lowest point since Corbyn became leader in September last year. Ukip was at 13% and the Lib Dems at 8%.

However, Corbyn remains favourite to fend off Smith’s leadership challenge.

On Tuesday, both campaigns sent promotional emails to people signed up to vote in the contest. Smith’s email directed members to a campaign video, while Corbyn’s email asked recipients whether they would back him in the leadership election.

Some Smith supporters raised concerns that the email could have been designed to identify those who are not loyal to the current leader – information that could potentially be used against them.

Linda Grant, a Labour member and novelist, said she feared being put on a “disloyal” list after ticking a box saying she would not support the leadership if Corbyn won.

“What I meant is that I would still be a member of the Labour party and would still vote Labour, but I probably wouldn’t actively campaign because it would seem like a waste of energy,” she said.

Tom Blenkinsop, a Labour MP and Smith supporter, said members should be careful about handing over that information to the Corbyn leadership campaign, which required “North Korea-style loyalty” from members even though Corbyn had rarely been supportive of his predecessors.

“They draw up lists. It’s what the hard left do,” said Blenkinsop. “They draw up lists of people with j’accuse and all that type of nonsense. It’s all they are interested in – identifying traitors.

“I wouldn’t reply to anything that [the Corbynist grassroots movement] Momentum sends. They are not affiliated and should be proscribed. They can change their name but it’s the same thing – if people are wise, they will see it is the devious politics of the hard left.”

In response to complaints about the email, a Corbyn campaign spokesman said:
“At this crucial time for our party and our country, it is essential that we bring Labour together. We hope that supporters of all candidates will agree that this leadership contest will decide the direction of our party, so that we can look outward, not backward, and take the fight to the Tories.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 27th July 2016 12.18 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010