Kezia Dugdale has risked dividing her own party by backing potential Labour leader Owen Smith, on the grounds that he will unify and “bridge its divides”, and spoke of the need to get in closer touch with with the British people from her hotel room in America.
Having long opposed Jeremy Corbyn, who she said would prevent her from earning any personal success or achievements, the Scottish Labour leader she believes “Owen can unite” Labour, and move them on “from the divisions that exist under the current UK leadership” despite most members of the party in Scotland backing Corbyn.
Corbyn and Smith are the only candidates for the Labour leadership, and 640,000 ballots have been sent out to party members for them to pick their favourite – albeit with the option for Russian subtitles removed to eliminate potential Trotskyist Entrism – with the battle to be resolved on the 24th September, less than two weeks after the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.
The contest, and Corbyn’s leadership in general, have caused a significant conflict within the Labour party, with the current incumbent having to endure a cabinet revolt, snarky remarks about his little beard, and Jess Phillips vowing to stab him to death in apparent revenge for him not taking seriously online threats not to rape her.
And now Dugdale – who once described Corbyn as “like that creepy socialist uncle who gave you a membership card for the SDP as a birthday present” – has intensified this conflict by backing Corbyn’s rival Smith, insisting that the Pontypridd MP has “the radical policies and politics we need, and which I oppose”.
In a Skype interview with reporter Lisa Halliday, she said: “We need to speak to the country again, to be in the trenches listening, like a, sort of like an honest spy. It’s not about throwing bricks at Jeremy Corbyn, saying he’s wrong person for the job. It’s about throwing bricks at Jeremy Corbyn because he’s a liability, and probably a terrorist, and frankly he’s tearing us apart, Lisa.
“If 80% of my colleagues in Scottish Parliament didn’t support me I wouldn’t be able to do the job – even though I received 72% of the votes when party members and trade unionists in Scotland elected me to be their leader. But if, hypothetically, I were that disfavoured, I would have to resign, even though I won’t, because I’m not, but if I were, which I’m not, I would, but I won’t.”
She also made clear that she is expressing her own view, not necessarily that of her party as a whole, and said that she was “fine” with deputy Alex Rowley, and virtually everyone else, supporting Corbyn, adding: “Aye, Alex is fine. It’s a nice career he’s got there, the lad. Would be a shame if something happened to it.”
The move to support Smith – who describes himself as being a “safe radical progressive pragmatist peace warrior” – has surprised many, since it would seem to conflict with Dugdale’s alliance with the more rightist sect Progress, for whom Dugdale has written, but she insists that she’s “sticking to her principles” in going against her principles to back him.
Smith has said that he is “incredibly proud” to have been endorsed by Dugdale, who this year led Scottish Labour to their worst ever election result, and said that “even if people who don’t know good from bad can see you’re good, then you must be really good, like in the cartoons when even the animals want to have sex with the beautiful lady”.