My report on the Labour Leadership Debate in Cardiff:
Passions were running very high in the audience for this debate.
This was particularly apparent when Smith stated he was scared the Party would split and that disunity would lead to electoral failure, which to the many Corbyn supporters in the room, seemed hugely hypocritical, as to them, he was one of the main causes of the disunity.
On the whole, Corbyn seemed more passionate than Smith. There is absolutely no doubting his genuine commitment to the cause and to the socialist program he proposes.
However, although Corbyn had passion, Smith was slicker in his presentation.
Much of the time, their ideas were very similar- except on Trident! On Trident; although Smith put forward a decent argument, Corbyn’s knowledge, understanding and passion seemed to clearly win this round, on which Smith conceded that they would just have to agree to disagree.
Because of the similarity of most of their ideas, it is obvious to see that Corbyn has already achieved his main original aim- of bringing socialist ideas back to the forefront of the Party’s manifesto.
In fact, it would be true to say that Smith is entirely a child of Corbyn’s leadership, as, due to all the new members that Corbyn has attracted, Smith has no choice but to put across a similarly left-wing program, without which he has no chance of winning over Corbyn’s supporters, or of retaining their support as members, if he wins this contest.
So, in this, we can already judge Corbyn a success.
As for the debate; who had more success?
Corbyn had a greater number of supporters, so he naturally received more applause.
However, Smith had a surprisingly large number of supporters on his side too, who reacted equally passionately to his points.
At times, it was difficult to see any difference between what they were saying, as they were both very much against austerity and very much in favour of government investment.
However, there was one key difference between them; although Corbyn was more passionate, Smith was the more effective speaker.
Smith was more eloquent and persuasive.
Whilst Corbyn discussed the need for investment, Smith put it into very clear, specific, concrete terms- laying out exactly where investment would go and where the money would come from. This made him sound much more prepared, much more professional and to be honest, much more Prime-Ministerial than Corbyn.
Because of this, I have to reluctantly concede, that although I am totally disgusted with the disloyalty and Machiavellian manoeuvring within the Party that has led to this contest, on tonight’s showing, Owen Smith is more effective at conveying his ideas than Corbyn.
Let me make it clear; I love everything that Corbyn stands for. I love the fact that he has massively increased the size of the membership and I really love the fact that he has made the Labour Party return to its socialist roots.
However, although his passion and his genuine commitment to true Labour values has attracted many thousands of new members to the Party, I don’t believe that he has what it takes to persuade sceptical swing voters to vote Labour. I don’t believe that he has what it takes to persuade voters that they should trust Labour with the economy.
On tonight’s showing, I have to reluctantly concede; that Owen Smith would be much more effective at persuading the average man or woman in the street that they should trust Labour with the economy and that massive borrowing- to fuel massive investment, is more prudent than continued austerity under the Tories.
Owen Smith is a more effective speaker, so he would be more able to communicate his ideas and persuade voters to trust him and vote for him. But, on top of this, he also just looks and sounds much more like a potential Prime Minister than Corbyn. Although Corbyn supporters would argue (and I would agree) that this is a very superficial reason for supporting Smith, it is unfortunately one of the main reasons why he would be more successful than Corbyn. Although we might like to think of ourselves as logical, rational creatures; the recent Brexit vote made it very clear that this is not the case. Many voters vote on instinct, intuition, or just first impressions. The impression that Smith gives is overall, more impressive and professional than the impression one gets of Corbyn.
Obviously, this is all just based on what I have seen in tonight’s debate. Things may change throughout the course of the contest- this is just my first impression.
However, as we know, first impressions count- first impressions last.
I voted for Corbyn in the previous leadership election, but tonight, Owen Smith made a greater impression on me than Corbyn. If he can persuade me that he is a better choice than Corbyn, then I believe he has a much greater chance of persuading the electorate to vote Labour.
On tonight’s showing, I have to reluctantly concede; that Labour would have more chance of winning the next election with Owen Smith as leader, rather than Jeremy Corbyn.