John McDonnell lashes out: Owen Smith policies have September ‘sell by date’
Just when you thought Labour’s civil war could not get more rancorous.
A key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has stepped up the personal attacks on Owen Smith by claiming that he is using “smear tactics” and copying Tory attack lines.
Since announcing he was standing against Corbyn, Smith has promised a “socialist revolution” and set out a series of radical policies.
But John McDonnell is having none of it.
In an article for the New Statesman, the shadow chancellor accused his former shadow cabinet colleague of echoing the tactics of the unsuccessful EU Remain campaign.
“He copied the cheap attacks made by Tory-supporting newspapers on Jeremy over nationalism and attacked me for not having any policies, despite announcing some of my policies as his own,” said McDonnell.
“When those smear tactics fail, he reverts to a ‘Project Fear’ approach of talking up a split that is being led by a minority of MPs who support his campaign. These tactics were the reason we lost the EU referendum. It seems odd to embrace them again.”
McDonnell went on to suggest that Smith would never implement any of the left policies he had promised.
“If Owen Smith can’t stand up and publicly condemn the minority of MPs talking up a split who back his campaign, how can anyone believe that he would stand up to the same MPs who also, deep down, oppose many of these policies? It’s clear that anything Owen announces this summer has a sell-by date of 24 September, and members know it.”
At 1pm, the Smith campaign had not responded to McDonnell’s allegations.
The battle between Corbyn's supporters and the rest of the Labour party has turned increasingly bitter in recent days.
McDonnell has previously accused Smith of "blackmailing" Labour members with warnings of a party split, and today he repeated his description of the challenger as the "disunity candidate".
The Labour leader's campaign has also been at war with deputy leader Tom Watson over his claims that some new members were being manipulated by "Trotsky entryists".
And the ongoing row over a cut-off date for the leadership election led to McDonnell attacking the "small clique" on the National Executive Committee that was trying to restrict the vote to members who had signed up before 12 January.
Picture by: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire/Press Association Images