Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Life in Remainville: Smith vs Leech revisited

In case you were thinking the main contenders had gone quiet, I can assure you that our hallway carpet continues to be submerged in red and yellow leaflets. We've received a CV from John Leech, a personal letter from Jeff Smith, an even more personal psuedo-handwritten letter from the Manchester Mum of the Year describing how Leech helped her child get medical treatment, two reminders to vote on Thursday, and more besides. But rather than attempt to scan all that lot in I'll just share the two which best summarise their respective campaigns.

Here's Smith's effort, complete with endorsement from Big Andy and a number of references to police cuts (a growing theme in the Labour material):




 (Top prize for misleading stat there with the 93% line)

And here is Leech, no longer featuring photos of Corbyn but abstract references to infighting instead.





(I'm still trying to understand the logic of the "more spending, more taxes, no plan to pay for it" critique)

The truth is my view hasn't really changed since 2015 that either candidate would be a good MP, as both have now proved. But Brexit of course is a new dividing line. I'm still very suspicious of Labour's approach, even if their obfuscation has clearly been very good for them electorally. I'm especially dismayed by their rightwards shift on immigration in the manifesto. I hope the line about free movement ending is some kind of clever lawyer-worded cheat that still allows for a soft brexit, but a big leap of faith is required here.

Having said that, I think Smith has done enough for me to believe that he will fight for the interests of Remain voters just as hard as Leech would, against his own party if necessary. And perhaps his voice of sanity within Labour will have a greater influence overall than one more Lib Dem could have.

So as far as these two are concerned the Brexit issue is a neutral one, and leaving that aside the Labour manifesto is excellent. While the Lib Dems are certainly much improved since 2015, they aren't in the same league as Labour on the non-Brexit issues, and their wrong-headed attacks on Labour's financial acumen still put me off. I'm sticking with Jeff.

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