The Labour leadership election is in full swing and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith are hitting the phones to drum up support for their man among party members.
But one pro-Corbyn canvasser got more than they bargained for when they ended up on the other end of the line to a former adviser to Ed Balls, Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor.
Karim Palant, former head of policy to the ex-Labour MP, posted a version of the exchange on Facebook where he suggested policies being offered by Corbyn and John McDonnell - his right-hand man and the current Shadow Chancellor - in fact have similarities to those crafted under Balls, but were a little more fleshed-out.
The good-natured exchange begins with the caller arguing Corbyn is tapping into the same “anti-establishment mood” that fuelled ‘Brexit’, the SNP’s surge - and the rise of Donald Trump.
“Trump?,” responds Palant, before asking for clarification on whether Corbyn is “going to say stuff like Trump”.
“Oh no goodness, I didn’t mean that he was actually like Trump!”, the Caller makes clear, reassuringly.
The conversation continues amiably enough until Caller suggests Corbyn is an anti-austerity antidote to Ed Balls. Uh-oh.
Karim Palant: Hasn’t John McDonnell said he wants to have the same fiscal rule as Ed Balls?
Caller: I’m not sure but...
KP: I think they have both said that they want to eliminate the current budget deficit but leave space for borrowing for capital?
Caller: Yes, but there is a much bigger emphasis on investment, John McDonnell wants to invest.
KP: What in?
Caller: Well, in growing the economy
KP: Ok.. so by?
Caller: Well housing for a start - social housing not just so-called ‘affordable’ housing.
KP: Ok. Has he got a target for how many?
Caller: Oh I don’t know. Good question. Just let me have a look.
KP: Say 200,000 or so?
Caller: I... um...
KP: I only ask because it was in the 2015 manifesto you see so I’m trying to work out whether this is anything different...
Caller: Oh right. Well, I think there’s obviously more areas.
Read the full exchange here, and you can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for any well-meaning activists given thin material to work with.
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