Old New Labour
Owen Smith represents this Blairite political culture which, unencumbered by political principles, will tack in any direction that predicts political success. Hence his and his Blairite backers, move towards the new socialist Zeitgeist personified by Corbyn. This could just as easily have been a tack towards UKIP and in fact often, to optimise this opportunist approach, the political conservatives try to include as many rhetorical positions as possible from both the left and the right (just read an item by Stephen Kinnock calling on the Labour Party to put limits on free movement of labour because it has nothing to do with Labour values, according to him limits to immigration can be undertaken without a guilty conscience as they would, under Labour, be undertaken purely for economic reasons and not be pandering to UKIP supporters). Smith has already talked about the empathy he feels towards those feeling threatened by immigration. He quotes his wife, a teacher, reporting to him about the pressures on local schools from “significant numbers into South Wales of people fleeing the Middle East”. But this tidal wave of refugees turns out to number 78. But not 78 in her town but 78 in the whole of Wales!
This politics is the politics of reaction and redefines what it means to be a politician. It argues that their role is to understand public opinion and move policy towards it rather than persuade the public to their view. For progressives this is a disastrous tactic as public opinion (without an opposing public political narrative) is mediated by a rightwing press and media. It is the press, media and establishment commentators who establish what are the acceptable parameters of political discourse and because they fear that Corbyn might overturn what they say are legitimate arguments and who are the legitimate targets of those arguments, everything including the kitchen sink will, if it hasn’t already been, be thrown at him.