"This browser does not support video playback": Be relieved.

“This browser does not support video playback”: Be relieved.

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith had a one-to-one interview with James O’Brien on the BBC’s Newsnight yesterday. One hopes he didn’t come away thinking it was a riotous success because it wasn’t.

It wasn’t awful either, to be fair. This Writer welcomes the fact that he seems to have toned down the disgraceful language he has used when referring to Jeremy Corbyn, and also that he seems to have started discussing some policies that he might have.

But, just when it seems we’re finally getting somewhere with this one, down come the clunkers:

Apparently, according to Mr Smith, “Nationhood and patriotism aren’t part of Jeremy Corbyn’s makeup”. We’ll make up our own minds about your opponent, thanks, Owen. You stick to talking about yourself.

“Only just over 50 per cent” of Labour members voted for Jeremy Corbyn last year, he said. Only? It was a four-way contest! Jeremy Corbyn strolled it!

Mr Smith seemed terrified of the word “socialism”, choosing his own term instead. Mr O’Brien’s face was a picture. “Labourism?” he squawked, in a tone that clearly conveyed the message, “What the blazes is that?”

Possibly the worst loss of control was at the start, though – when they were discussing Sarah Champion’s return to the shadow cabinet. After taking part in an attempted coup where we were all told that MPs needed to be able to reject the leader chosen by the wider membership, Mr Smith decided that, now, it’s all about the members – not the MPs.

As Jason Sheffield wrote on Twitter: “Owen Smith would be a step backwards to a kind of politician who changes policies on a whim depending on which face he’s wearing!”

“I’m going to bed tonight more cheerful than I’ve been in weeks,” tweeted Enid Shelmerdine.

“Thanks, for showing us the state of the opposition.”

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