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The Lowdown On Labour Leadership Candidate Owen Smith

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Photo: Matthew Horwood/Stringer/Getty Images.
Yesterday we found out that – yet again – the next leader of the Labour Party will be a man: current leader Jeremy Corbyn or his challenger, the relatively unknown Owen Smith.

After revealing she enjoys “porridge for breakfast” on live TV, Angela Eagle, who announced she was challenging Corbyn earlier this month after weeks of speculation, pulled out of the race. She had attracted less support from Labour MPs and MEPs than Smith.

Smith and Corbyn will now go head-to-head in a summer-long campaign before Labour party members who joined before January, and registered supporters who paid £25 before the deadline this afternoon, cast their votes and the result is announced on the 24th of September.
Twitter users have been discussing Smith's nondescript appearance (with hilarious consequences), and polls suggest Corbyn is easily going to win.

But it’s still worth asking: who actually is Owen Smith? And is he any different from the other middle-aged white man in the contest?

The basics

Owen Smith, 46, has been the MP for Pontypridd in Wales since 2010. He was Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary until he resigned after the EU referendum last month, citing concerns over Corbyn’s leadership ability.

Smith was born in Morecambe but grew up in South Wales and went to a state school before studying history and French at the University of Sussex. He’s married with three kids and worked as a BBC producer, a special adviser for Labour and a lobbyist for pharmaceutical company Pfizer before becoming an MP. He once described his guilty pleasure as "too many beers", the BBC reported.
What does he stand for?

Smith claims to stand on the left of Labour, like Corbyn, and recently said he would "modernise" the values that he and Corbyn share. Kate Green MP, who is involved in Smith's campaign, said both men believe in "democratic socialism, anti-austerity, equality, justice… The difference is that [Smith] might be able to take those ideas to the people that we need, in a way that I just don’t think Jeremy can,” The Guardian reported.

On Monday, Smith voted to renew Trident, the country's nuclear deterrent system, like most other Labour MPs. By contrast, Corbyn voted against. Smith's voting record in Parliament also shows he has voted in the same way as other Labour MPs on the vast majority of issues.

When it comes to policies going forward, Smith recently said he would reverse austerity and invest £200bn in infrastructure, The Guardian reported. He also pledged to hold a second EU referendum and said he would introduce an act to ensure future governments cannot take Britain into conflict without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny.
Who supports him?

Unlike Corbyn, who enjoys huge support among Labour members, Smith has the backing of the party's MPs. He has tried to portray himself as a “unifying” candidate, able to heal the current divisions within the party. “I want to say to all members of the Labour party tonight, young and old, longstanding and new members: I can be your champion. I am just as radical as Jeremy Corbyn,” he said recently.

Smith will apparently work in “lockstep” with Eagle during the campaign, The Guardian reported, and just this morning he said he would offer Corbyn a high-profile role as president or chairman of Labour if he won.

However, at the moment it doesn't look like things will come to that. Smith has his work cut out if he's to convince Labour members to turn their backs on the man they elected, less than a year ago, with reportedly the "largest mandate ever won by a party leader".
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