Owen Campaign’s Strategic Divide

OWEN-DILEMMA

Owen Smith is particularly desperate to try and win Wales and shore up his vote on home turf to avoid personal humiliation. When it comes to events and phone banking his campaign is very Welsh-centric – he’s focusing on South Wales disproportionately. Make that a hell of a lot of effort for a small part of the electorate.

In the latest of many South Wales campaign events Owen made a “keynote” speech in Rhondda yesterday to a handful of people – he just can’t break out of the Valleys. If you look at his campaign pictures (see below) from the event they are all tight on him because the crowd was so small.

oily-close

Truth is he’s not liked much in Wales. Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones has been silent and no Welsh minister has backed him. His own Pontypridd Assembly Member and Welsh Government Counsel General, Mick Antoniw, is backing Corbyn. Former Pontypridd AM and Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson, who knew Owen and worked with him closely when he was first elected, is also backing Corbyn and tweeting Owen attacks. Reportedly the only CLP in Wales to nominate him was fixed

In private the campaign knows it has lost and fears it may lose by over 60% to 40%. His campaign manager Dugher is said to be arguing for a strategy shift to a tough bare-knuckled fight, hitting Corbyn hard, perhaps having learnt his lesson from managing Andy Burnham’s disastrous soft-left leadership campaign. The whole idea of projecting Smith as a “competent Corbynista” has been disastrous from the off because nobody believed thechildishly transparent lie. Owen Smith does not however want to tack to the centre and tell the membership hard-truths, because he needs to “protect my brand” for the future. Oh boyo…

Could this dilemma within the campaign explain the vitriol of that Dan Hodges polemic on Sunday against spineless, incoherent, incompetent Owen? Hodges is close to Dugher…

UPDATE: A source gets in touch to clarify that initially Dugher was for all the full-on lefty campaign because he thought that’s where he/Andy screwed up last time, “If Andy had been more left-wing Jeremy wouldn’t have had space to emerge. Problem is it’s the right strategy for twelve months ago. Doesn’t work now Corbyn is out of the bottle which they now accept.”




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