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Why I'm Voting For Owen Smith - And So Should You

31/08/2016 16:39 | Updated 31 August 2016

In last year's leadership election, I was near clueless on who to vote for. I had just joined the party and was baffled by the looking glass which I had just stepped through. The promised politics of Kendall, Corbyn, Cooper and Burnham confused me beyond all belief so when it came down to it, I voted for Yvette Cooper. Because I believed she stood for something I believed in. Equality. And a future Labour government.

Now, after a year of attending CLP meetings, of campaigning on the street for the party and for the referendum, of going to rallies and debates, of meeting councillors, MPs and MEPs, of tracking national political movements in-depth, and following British Politics to the letter day-by-day I feel altogether more clued up.

So here's where I got to the conclusion that made you click on this article.

As soon as the election was over last year, and Jeremy won, I texted a friend and said that I was glad the Jeremy Corbyn had won. I liked his ideas, his promise of honest politics. He seemed like a genuine guy - plus I liked his beard. I decided I hadn't voted for him because I'd believed what the media and MPs had said about his unelectability. How ironic, I know. So from then on I was a happy Labour supporter. I backed him in debates with my friends, I argued his case with all sorts of people. I even got behind accusing Laura Kuenssberg and plenty of others at the BBC and elsewhere in the media of being biased against Corbyn. I wrote an impassioned piece on my personal blog about how I believed the party should get behind him.

That was the peak of my support for Corbyn - it began to go downhill from there. 6 months in, I found myself looking at the near unchanged opinion polls despite the omnishambles budget, despite the austerity, despite the infighting that had already begun over Europe in the Conservative Party budget, despite everything. I found myself envisioning a post-Brexit election in which the Labour party would be embarrassed. For the second time in as many years.

In May, I walked the streets of my middle England safe conservative constituency, knocking on doors to try and defend the one Labour ward in the town. And on the doorstep, people said things which made me take a second glance at the party I believed in. Things like "I voted Labour last time, and I like our councillor, but I don't know how I feel about the party nationally" and "I don't like Jeremy Corbyn."

Then, in June, I campaigned fiercely for the Remain campaign. A cause I believed in with all my heart. I leafleted, wrote, talked to my voting friends, posted on facebook, got people to register to vote and went to rallies. All because I fiercely believed that we are stronger in Europe. As I sat at the back of that conference centre, watching Jeremy Corbyn speak about the EU, I didn't feel like he felt the way I did. Maybe it's a memory clouded by later events, maybe I'm misremembering, but I know that in the wee small hours of the 24th June I felt heartbroken.

Then as the so-called coup began, as resignations began to happen, I began to wake up to a reality that many had already seen. Jeremy, while his politics are great, was not going to be a man to lead us to an election victory. When you cannot command the support of your MPs - how can you be expected to command the support of the country.

Then Owen Smith came onto the scene. A man I'd barely heard of before, but the more I read on him, the more impressed I was. As I watched him in interviews and hustings, opposite Jeremy, I saw a man who I passionately believed in. A man who cares for the things I care about, a man who could compromise and work with members from all wings of our great movement, not just his own. A man who could take Theresa May to task in PMQs, not just read 5 unrelated questions. A man who could win us back seats, by reaching out to those who feel forgotten by the Tories, a man who could lead us to a Labour government.

Owen Smith is a traditional Labour politician. A socialist. A trade unionist. An internationalist. A democrat. An electable, passionate and exciting politician, who could make the concept of being 12 points behind in the polls a thing of the past.

Owen Smith can give Labour a future - so if you can, please give him your vote - because this country cannot survive another 5 years of Tory government in 2020. And that's a fact.

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