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Owen Smith's agenda shows that Jeremy Corbyn has achieved the victory he originally wanted

The Labour's leader's aim was to shift the debate, not to win the contest.

"Now we need to make sure I don't win," Jeremy Corbyn told a supporter after he made the Labour leadership ballot last year. It was not with the hope or expectation of victory that he entered the contest. Rather, the backbencher hoped to shift Labour's debate leftwards. 

He has certainly done so now. The policies adopted by Corbyn's challenger Owen Smith put him well to the left of almost all recent candidates. Last week, he announced 20 pledges, including a ban on zero-hour contracts, a 4 per cent increase in NHS spending, a wealth tax on the top 1 per cent of earners and £200bn of infrastructure investment. Today, he has promised an immediate living wage of £8.25 for all adults and the reversal of all cuts to in-work benefits. With the notable exception of Trident renewal, there are few issues that divide him and Corbyn. 

The contrast with last summer's contest, when no other candidate fully opposed austerity, is marked. Indeed, had Andy Burnham stood on Smith's platform in 2015 it is possible that no left candidate would have entered the race. But mistakenly spooked by Liz Kendall's bid, Burnham backed further welfare cuts and struck a centrist tone (one abandoned by the contest's end). After Corbyn's victory, Smith has correctly concluded that he cannot be "too left-wing" for Labour's current selectorate. He aims to fuse the leader's radicalism with superior electability and competence. 

But as well the loyalty of Corbyn supporters to their leader, Smith faces two other major obstacles to victory. His more moderate past (supporting limited private sector involvement in the NHS, for instance) means he is branded an opportunist by opponents. Others argue that he would be captured or ousted by figures to his right. "The Blairites won't rest until they've got their party back," a shadow cabinet minister told me. Corbyn's victory - a new anti-austerity consensus - would be short-lived, his supporters fear. But a victory it is. Some left-wingers privately confess that they would rather have won the debate than the contest. "We simply weren't ready to lead," a senior figure told me. But as Marx observed, men make their own history, but not in circumstances of their choosing. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The snowflake Daily Mail cries over free market capitalism taking our blue passports

UK, hun?

The poor old whining snowflakes at the Daily Mail have discovered that maybe it’s better to put the state above private companies after all.

They’ve run a ranty yet doleful lament on their front page about Britain’s “ruling class” (which they are definitely, definitely not part of, of course) showing its “hate” for “our country” by letting a Franco-Dutch firm make our post-Brexit blue passports:

“Today the Mail has a question for Britain’s ruling class: Why DO you hate our country, its history, culture and the people’s sense of identity?”

In a beautiful bit of irony, the £490m contract to make our grim new tickets to bigotry was awarded to Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch firm that beat the British-based De La Rue (lol) that also tried bidding for the contract.

The Mail’s complaint seems to be that the bloody Frogs shouldn’t be making our passports – the UK should be doing it instead. So, according to this logic, either the state should make them, or, to guarantee a private British firm winning the contract, the state should ignore free market forces?

Neither seem particularly in tune with the Mail’s usual preferences. Nor those of the Tory Brexiteers, for that matter.

Yes, this is part of European competition law – big public contracts like this have to be open to bids from across the EU. But right-wingers in this country don’t seem to mind when foreign companies run our railways (Greater Anglia, West Midlands and ScotRail franchises are majority-owned by the Dutch state company Abellio).

Looks like these over-sensitive social justice warriors want to have their cake and eat it. Political correctness gone mad.

I'm a mole, innit.