Owen Smith, the ex-shadow cabinet minister, has said he will enter the Labour leadership contest to stand against Jeremy Corbyn. This comes after Angela Eagla also launched a leadership bid earlier this week. Smith claims he can heal the currently divided party.
The MP for Pontypridd, who recently resigned as shadow work and pensions secretary, is launching his own leadership challenge after speculation from the public that he was a possible contender. Mr Smith will need to get the required 20% backing, consisting of 51 MEPs and MPs, in order to get his name on the ballot.
This accouncement comes after the NEC ruled that Mr Corbyn should be automatically included on the ballot paper as the current sitting party leader, meaning that he does not have to get the required nominations. Mr Smith has publicly declared his support for this decision.
Mr Smith has said that he supports many of Corbyn’s policies, but that he has lost faith in Corbyn’s ability to lead the Labour party. Mr Smith feels that he can appeal to both wings of the party, but has said that he is to the left of Angela Eagle. His decision to enter the contest could have the potential to split the vote against Jeremy Corbyn.
Supporters of Smith have argued that he could be a better choice than Corbyn as he has pitched himself on the soft left of the party, and he was not in parliament and thus not associated with the conspiracy surrounding the Iraq war. Alternatively, supporters of Eagle argue that it is time the Labour party had female leadership, and she also performed well in the recent PMQs.
Profile: Owen Smith
- Owen Smith began his career as a journalist for the BBC, where he worked for 10 years
- He then worked for 5 years in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry, after which he went on to become a special adviser in Parliament
- He was elected as the Pontypridd Labour MP in 2010
- He served as the shadow Welsh secretary under Ed Miliband, and then as shadow work and pensions secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, until his recent resignation
Labour supporters can have the opportunity to vote for any of the contesting members by signing up over a two-day period to become a registered member, with a one-off payment of £25.