Sunday, 24 July 2016

Owen Smith Needs To Be Challenged Robustly

Liza Van Zyl, a disability rights activist, has made this statement:

Owen Smith needs to be challenged robustly on his position on the Work Capability Assessment and on his commitment to disabled people’s rights.

I was a Labour Party activist who had no choice but to resign from the party after a very unpleasant encounter with Mr Smith.

I am recounting it now because I believe it is very important that his views are robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership.

On Saturday 7th March 2015 I attended a Labour meeting in Pontypridd at which the guest speaker was Owen Smith MP, then Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

When questions were invited from the floor, I asked Mr Smith why, given that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been responsible for a great many more deaths than the Bedroom Tax, Labour had pledged to scrap the Bedroom Tax but had said nothing about pledging to scrap the WCA. 

Mr Smith replied that Labour could not pledge to scrap the WCA because this would make Labour appear weak on benefits in the eyes of the media and compromise Labour’s General Election chances.

I posted this on Facebook and a journalist took it up and posted the story online. Subsequently the journalist was threatened with legal action by Mr Smith if he did not take the story down.

I was very intimidated by the prospect of defending myself in court, and I had no money for a legal defence. 

In addition my Labour colleagues were terribly keen to maintain good relations with Mr Smith and would probably have backed Mr Smith and not me if it came to a court case (one of them had even contacted the journalist and briefed against me). 

So I asked the journalist to pull the story and I deleted references to it on Facebook.

I am publicising this incident now because I am very concerned about Mr Smith’s attitude toward disabled people, and particularly to his views that the deaths of disabled people are less important than Labour’s “tough on benefits” standing in the right-wing press.

If he threatens me with legal action again it will be incredibly stressful and will probably exacerbate my disability-related ill health.

But I believe it is important that Mr Smith’s attitudes to the WCA and to disability rights (and freedom of speech!) be robustly challenged if he stands for the Labour leadership.

And because we should be able to discuss things that profoundly impact on us, like the WCA, without being intimidated into silence by threats of legal action.

I am happy to provide more details to journalists who can contact me at

See also here.


  1. As Peter Hitchens writes in Prospect today the only good thing about Corbyn's re-election as leader is that it will split the Labour Party and force it's MPs to realise they have more in common with Theresa May than their own leader. They're already openly talking of joining their pro EU liberal multicultural globalist comrades in the Tory party.

    Hitchens calls for two new parties in Prospect and on Twitter today.

    As Hitchens says, we urgently need someone to represent the patriotic Right with as much conviction as Corbyn speaks for his side.

    That would represent the divisions of opinion in Britain.

    Labour and the Tories don't.

    1. He has been proposing this as the solution to whatever happened to be going on in any given week for the last 20 years. A realignment is now under way, but it is not that.

      There is no more an electoral space to the right of Theresa May than there is an electoral space to the left of Jeremy Corbyn. Such people do exist, but not in such numbers as to matter electorally.

      Nor will Labour MPs join the Conservative Party. They just won't.

  2. Hitchens realignment is already underway. This is the future party of the Left, incubated in the Remain campaign.

    As Hitchens says the millions of patriots who voted Out-including a majority of Tory voters and of course the millions of UKIP voters-now need an equivalent party of the Right.

    1. Believe one word of that when you see it, and not one second before.

      Of course we are in the throes of a realignment. That realignment is the complete transformation, not least through the exponential enlargement, of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

      There is no more an electoral space to the right of Theresa May than there is an electoral space to the left of Corbyn. Such people do exist, but not in such numbers as to matter electorally.

  3. Hitchens realignment is underway. The future party of the Left is emerging. Now it awaits an equivalent on the Right.

    The Guardian reports: A new cross-party movement for progressive liberalism that could endorse candidates in favour of the EU and immigration at the next election is being set up by politicians, celebrities and intellectuals.

    The initiative has the support of Jonathon Porritt, the environmentalist, Caroline Criado-Perez, the feminist writer, and Luke Pritchard from the band Kooks, as a space for people who want a voice for openness and tolerance.

    It also has the backing of Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader who was a key figure in the Lib-Lab discussions of the 1990s, and has been discussed across party lines at Westminster.""

    It's beginning already.

    Incubated in the Remain campaign was the new cross party alliance of the Left.

    1. Sounds exactly like the SDP. What happened to that?

      I think you'll find that there is already rather a large party of the Left. Its Leader is as left-wing as anything more than a few thousand people in Britain ever go, just as the Leader of the Conservative Party is as right-wing as anything more than a few thousand people in Britain ever go.

  4. The leader of the Conservative Party is not remotely "right wing" you joker!

    Mrs "nasty party" May, supporter of all women shortlists, (whom Trevor Phillips of the ECHR praised as "aggressive on equality") she is, if anything the Queen of Political Correctness.

    As Peter Hitchens just Tweeted:‏ @ClarkeMicah
    .@Lone_Inadequate We already have two Polly Toynbee parties, New Labour and Tories. I'm proposing we go down to one.

    Indeed. We have two leftwing parties.

    It's a rightwing party that we badly need.

    1. She is as right-wing as British politics goes.

      That statement applies equally to Theresa May and to Polly Toynbee.