OWEN SMITH was never the front-runner in Labour’s leadership contest. But moderates in the party hoped that he would at least begin the process of clipping away at the mighty mandate, 59% of vote, that accrued to Jeremy Corbyn last year. Perhaps this could be shaved to nearer 50%. And perhaps, in one of the three voter categories—full members, registered supporters and affiliates (mostly union members)—he could even be beaten.
After all, the last twelve months have seen Labour wade progressively farther into a moral and electoral swamp. Mr Corbyn was a dismally poor cheerleader for Britain’s continued EU membership. Today the country is without a functioning opposition. The rules of the leadership contest, too, should have helped Mr Smith: some of Mr Corbyn's supporters had been prevented from voting, either because they signed up too late or because, having made offensive or anti-Labour comments on social media, they had been “purged”—as some of his backers melodramatically describe the party’s vetting processes. Surely, but surely, the moderates could put a dent in Mr Corbyn’s armour?
No, came the answer. In Liverpool, where Labour’s conference...Continue reading