WITH enthusiastic support for leftwing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a somewhat less vigorous phenomenon in Scotland than across the rest of the UK, his clash with his centre left challenger for party leadership, Owen Smith MP, could have been expected to be a more subdued affair than some earlier hustings.
But with email voting for Labour members having opened on Monday (22 August), the meeting in Glasgow’s SECC was a rough and ready debate.
CommonSpace looks at five key moments from Corbyn and Smith’s showdown in Glasgow
1. Smith questions whether Corbyn voted Remain in the EU referendum
During the debate, Smith questioned wether Corbyn himself even voted to stay within the Eropean Union (EU) on 23 June.
Smith said: “I’m not even sure Jeremy did vote In.”
He was cut off by Corbyn, who angrily retorted: “Owen, I thought we’d grown up and we weren’t any longer going to use those kinds of questions or those kinds of remarks.”
Pressing the point, Smith said: “Well I would like to hear you say it, I would like to hear that you voted In.”
Corbyn said: “Owen you know perfectly well what you and I were doing during the European referendum, we were speaking together on the same platform in Cardiff asking people to vote to Remain.”
Smith knows most Labour and leftwing voters are for EU membership and has used this claim to try and to outflank Corbyn in the past, whose performance during the referendum has been criticised for lacking conviction. However, by the reaction of the audience, Corbyn won this exchange.
Smith has said he will fight to keep the UK in the EU, and would attempt to block the UK from leaving in the House of Commons unless Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to a General Election or another referendum.
2. Smith criticises Corbyn for failing to rebuild Scottish Labour
Smith highlighted Labour’s decline in Scotland as evidence that Corbyn’s radical politics haven’t won the traditional Labour heartland back from the SNP, which won its third majority Scottish Government in the 2016 Scottish elections.
Smith said: “We've gone from second to third. You're meant to be winning back Scotland on the basis that we'd be more radical and that would appeal to the Scottish people.
“Under his leadership we have gone backwards in Scotland. This is not progress for Labour.”
Corbyn admitted there was a “long road” ahead for Labour in reclaiming support in Scotland
He said: “Yes, everybody is very clear there is a big fight ahead and a long road back but you've got to start on the basis that the health inequality in Scotland has to be challenged, the levels of poverty have to be challenged, insecure working conditions have to be challenged and what the SNP is doing is actually an austerity programme while they're pretending it's not an austerity programme.”
The entire debate can be watched here
3. Corbyn criticises the SNP for “pretending” to adopt Labour politics
Corbyn took his opportunity to attack the SNP during the hustings, accusing it of “pretending” to adopt the politics of the Labour party.
He said: “The SNP are very good at pretending to adopt the clothes of Labour.
“The reality is something very, very different, of what they do in their economic strategy. And that surely is something that has to be challenged.”
The claim is part of Corbyn’s reason for coming to Scotland, to elaborate the differences between his version of Labour politics and the SNP.
Since coming to Glasgow on Thursday (25 August) Corbyn has been quashing the idea of a Labour SNP alliance at Westminster, and announcing plans for a Scottish national investment bank in a bid to present a plan for greater Scottish economic autonomy.
4. Corbyn and Smith go head-to-head on Trident
Corbyn and Smith clashed on one of the biggest controversies for the Labour party at Westminster: Trident.
“Where Jeremy and I disagree is that while I think it naïve to imagine that if we got rid of ours, America and Russia would just follow suit, I don’t agree with Jeremy that … countries like South America and Argentina [which have disarmed] … are listened to in the same way we are.”
Corbyn responded with his usual moral appeal against the nature of nuclear weapons
Corbyn said: “The reality of a nuclear weapon is that it is an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction, it will kill large numbers of civilians if ever used.
“If you want to live in a safe and secure world, and anyone lets off a nuclear weapon anywhere, there is an environmental, economic consequence immediately for the whole planet.”
In July, Westminster voted overwhelmingly to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system based on the River Clyde. The Labour party in Scotland opposses the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
5. Audience cheers Smith’s rhetorical support for Corbyn
Perhaps neither of the leadership candidates were the stars of the Glasgow confrontation. The audience was noisy throughout, cheering and sometimes heckling, so much so that the chair of the event had to frequently call for calm.
In his surmising comments, Smith rhetorically invoked a vote for Corbyn, giving his opponents in the audience one last chance to have their say.
Smith said: “My view right now is that it’s the biggest choice all of us have faced in a generation – we can stick with Jeremy Corby…[raucous cheering].”
Picture courtesy of Facebook
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