Phil Wilson

Fighting for the issues that matter most to you

Why I will be voting for Owen Smith

I have watched Owen Smith since he entered parliament in 2010. He has grown in confidence as a parliamentarian, is steeped in the Labour tradition, he has been prepared to take responsibility on Labour’s frontbench, he is a class performer from the dispatch box, and he is more than competent to lead the Labour Party.

He is setting out a radical vision for the 21st century. I agree with Owen when he says the Tories have a plan to privatise the NHS. I personally believe, if the Tories win in 2020, they will start talking about people have to pay to use the National Health Service. The Tories will deny that, but I can see it coming.

Owen understand the NHS and our public services can only be funded by a dynamic economy, backed up by an industrial strategy, rich in skills and innovation which complements our manufacturing base especially in the North East. This is particularly important after the Brexit vote on June 23rd.

I was very disappointed at the vote to leave the EU. I was also disappointed, and felt let down by the half-hearted approach Jeremy took to the campaign. The referendum was the most important decision facing the country in a generation. During the campaign, Jeremy never visited the North East and even went on holiday. These are not the actions of a leader.

Jeremy has said he would set up ‘a monitoring group’ to watch how Brexit develops. Compare this with Owen who has said he would hold the government to account as Brexit negotiations develop and he believes we should put the results of the negotiations to a second referendum or a general election.

And winning the next general election should be the complete focus of our attention.

Helping others, defeating inequality, bringing peace to the world are principles that have drawn us to the Labour Party. I have heard some say that principle is more important than power. But those who established the Labour Party over a century ago, knew the only way we could act upon our principles was by being in power.

Labour forming a government to put into action our principles is the reason we exist. It is the reason why our constitution states that our purpose is to ‘organise and maintain in Parliament’ the Labour Party.

Until Labour formed a government and had the power to make laws the minimum wage remained a pipe dream. Until we formed a government investment in the public services was ignored, we were able to correct that by being in power.

Peace in Northern Ireland was brought about by a Labour government because we were in power to make it so.

Therefore winning the next election is imperative, and I am afraid I do not believe Jeremy can win that election.

His poll ratings are dire. In 1981 Michael Foot’s poll rating as Labour Leader was -24, and we all know what happened in 1983.

Jeremy’s rating is at -41, this is the view of the people who really matter, our supporters. I don’t want to see Labour let them down.

A poll in the Evening Standard (August 16th) said the British public would rather have Owen as PM than Jeremy.

Of the two candidates in this leadership election I genuinely believe Owen has the best chance of winning the next general election so that we can put our principles into action.

Jeremy for all his beliefs, is not sufficiently competent to deliver victory. Our supporters know that and they are desperate for us to win.

There are also two other principles that I believe are a pre-requisite for victory. They are loyalty and unity.

I believe in both. I have never voted against the Labour whip, even under Jeremy’s leadership. In addition, I was a Labour whip under Ed Miliband so I know the importance of these principles. But I am afraid Jeremy has not distinguished himself on either.

He has voted against the Labour whip literally hundreds of times and voted with the Tories on more occasions than David Cameron ever did. His career has shown that he is ready to exercise his rights to protest but has not been prepared to take responsibility. In the 1980’s he defended the hard left Militant Tendency against the Labour Party, and ran Tony Benn’s campaign against Neil Kinnock in 1988 at a time when the party was starting to look united after years of bitter infighting.

I therefore do not see how it is possible for Jeremy to demand the loyalty and unity that he has never shown himself.

I will be voting for Owen Smith in the leadership contest because he is the unity candidate and can reach out to all sections of the party. I will also be voting for him because I want to save Labour, the party I love and because I want to see Labour in government again.

Owen is principled, he is also competent and will take the fight to the Tories. Our members and more importantly our supporters deserve better than we have now. Vote for Owen Smith and help save the Labour Party.

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