Socialist Worker

It’s cock-up after Balls-up for blundering blokes of Labour

Issue No. 2519

Owen Smith has reached a new low

Owen Smith has reached a new low (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Poor old Owen Smith can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.

The Labour leadership contender who recently discovered he was a ­socialist spoke in Hull last week.

The only coverage concerned whether he’d made a joke about having a 29 inch penis. That would put him on roughly the same level of debate as US right winger Donald Trump.

Smith’s team insist that far from bragging about his intimidating masculinity, he was making a
“­self-deprecating” joke about his height.

Troublemaker finds that a bit of a tall tale. Or a long shot at least.

Then again Smith seems exactly the type who’d have the wit neither to avoid an offensive joke nor to think of it in the first place.

Perhaps he did just trip up. Hardly surprising really.

Just like when he said he’d “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”.

And when he said that having a wife and kids made him “normal” unlike ­lesbian rival Angela Eagle.

And when he said Plaid Cymru party leader Leanne Woods was only getting on TV because she was a woman.

And when he made a crass comparison to ­domestic violence to describe the Tory-Lib Dem ­coalition.

If you’re feeling generous, you could say Smith just can’t stop muddling his message whenever he’s on camera. Or on stage. Or in print.

Exactly the lack of “media savvy” his lot claim to obsess about in Jeremy Corbyn.

Still, it gives him something in common with former shadow chancellor Ed Balls. He’s preparing for his chance to swagger around the set of Strictly Come Dancing by serialising his ­memoirs in the Times newspaper.

Within the first few paragraphs he’s committed various driving offences, fluffed a TV interview and become a running joke on Twitter.

But the main point is to say Ed Miliband lost the general election through an “astonishingly dysfunctional” lack of asking Ed Balls for advice.

Which is surprising really since Ed Balls was the one to lose his seat.


Just who is the Green Party’s new leader? Its MP Caroline Lucas was an obvious frontrunner—on a joint ticket with Christian pundit Jonathan Bartley.

That’s a major leg-up for Bartley—who vocally opposes abortion out of “respect for unborn life”—but not for women’s lives.

He also led the dismal Yes campaign in the 2011 Alternative Voting referendum. So happily he has form in failing.


Maine governor Paul Le Page gave a rare honest description of US cops’ view of black and minority people in footage that emerged last week.

“You shoot at the enemy,” he said. “You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of colour or people of Hispanic origin.”


A surprise guest at the Orange Oscars

A member of the Orange Order - strange bedfellows for the SNP

A member of the Orange Order - strange bedfellows for the SNP (Pic: Sheila Fitzgerald/Flickr)


The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) group on North Lanarkshire council attended the annual Orange Oscars awards.

The Orange Order is a cult of unionist anti-Catholic bigots.

You could say its British nationalism isn’t exactly friendly to the SNP. It hurls vicious insults at SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and bitterly fought Scottish independence.

The main Oscar went to a march that “deeply concerned” Glasgow SNP councillors and saw 20,000 people sign a petition against it.

But councillor David Stocks insisted he was invited to events “from all parts of the community”.

“I don’t see any of these attendances as a chore,” he added. “I enjoy them”.

Lanarkshire SNP members faced “heartful leadership” training this week on “how to address one another”.

It aims to heal a rift between young activists and an old guard “Monklands McMafia”.


Shock as old tasers could drop charges

Are you feeling lucky? If cops fire a potentially lethal Taser at you it might not fire.

The weapons maker claims the killer devices are often “well beyond their shelf life” and “could potentially malfunction or not work”

Some might think the electric arms dealers were just talking up the risks to make some extra sales.

Troublemaker is stunned at such cynicism.

Still, it would make a change from talking them down to shrug off responsibility for deaths.

In any case it worked. The Home Office says it will upgrade all its Tasers by October.

  • Cops in Manchester failed to record 38,000 crimes last year. These include 16,800 violent crimes and all reports of rape.

Greater Manchester Police deputy chief constable Ian Pilling said the figures were “really encouraging.” Troublemaker wonders what he would find discouraging.


Creepiness? This MP has got it covered

Sir Desmond Swayne

Sir Desmond Swayne (Pic: DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr)


Someone asked their Tory MP what he thought about burkini bans. It’s a mistake that must never be repeated.

Sir Desmond Swayne replied. As a “hot-blooded male” he can “appreciate beauty, which can sometimes be enhanced by a bikini.” But, he went on, bringing nuance to his leering, “there can be something quite attractive, alluring, even sensual, about concealment.

“It leaves more to the imagination."

Troublemaker isn't generally for banning things from the beach. But could an exception be made for Swayne so he doesn’t put people off their ice cream?


Faulty Firm

Pfizer - drug pusher

  • Mylan Inc has been criticised for hiking the US price for anti-allergy device EpiPens. But Pfizer is the maker and gets a slice of the pie too
  • Pfizer just swallowed up antibiotics firm Medivation for £11 billion. This is likely to mean a rise in the already inflated US price of cancer drug Xtandi
  • Owen Smith cut his teeth as a Pfizer lobbyist

Streeting's Bleatings

Wes Streeting is nominally a Labour MP. This is an occasional series documenting his wisdom

  • Brother Wes attacked “Labour’s self-indulgence tendency”. Troublemaker couldn’t agree more
  • Then he sent an eight page newspaper about himself to all constituents

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