They say you should never meet your heroes, so when I found out Owen Smith was going to be in Glasgow this morning, I was determined to be there.
Smith’s recent interventions in Scottish politics have been as disastrous as the rest of his leadership campaign.
On Monday, he gave an interview in which he, perfectly sensibly, suggested there would be no reason for Labour to oppose a second independence referendum (especially given he’s effectively campaigning for a second referendum on Brexit). What he failed to realise was that perfect sense and Scottish Labour policy are the complete opposite, given Kezia Dugdale lost the last election trying to a bigger unionist than the Tories. Smith also reiterated his support for Scotland being the site of a nuclear arsenal and when asked, “So your message to Scottish Labour is that there’s no point in them having a position on some things because it’ll be trumped by Westmister? he replied “well, that’s how devolution works.”
After changing his position on a second referendum the next day (to one of opposition), he was yesterday greeted with the news Scottish Labour had dropped to their lowest ever ratings in a Holyrood poll and even managed to become embroiled in a controversy over a Tweet he sent back in April, fantasing about preventing Nicola Sturgeon from speaking.
Perhaps Smith was hoping today would finally be his lucky day. When I excitedly signed up to attend his Glasgow meeting, I assumed perhaps Smith would be packing out George Square, the Concert Hall or the Hydro, which have all been filled to capacity for political events in recent years. When I received an email, to confirm my attendance at “the phone bank”, I started to have my doubts. A phone box would probably have done.
After wandering around lost for a few minutes, it became clear that the location was, in fact, a small room up a dark alleyway behind Queen Street. Any hope we could sneak in and sit at the back were dashed as we approached and realised there wasn’t a back, or a front, just a couple of small tables, a handful of excited looking hacks decorating the room…and no Owen Smith.
Given hanging around dark alleys waiting for dodgy guys is firmly “our territory”, we decided to mark it accordingly as we awaited the arrival of the man himself.
Smith’s been defined by his tendency to constantly change his mind: on Iraq, on PFI, on Tory welfare cuts, on nuclear weapons, on women-only shortlists, so as he approached, I was keen to find out whether the walk down Queen Street had been enough to trigger support for another independence referendum.
“Morning Owen, what’s your position on a second independence referendum today then?” I enquired.
“The same as it was yesterday and last week.”
“So, the same as yesterday and last week…but different from 4 days ago?”
And with a wry smile from Smith and a bemused look from his accomplices, the man who’s still trying to pretend he might be the next Prime Minister was directed down the dingy alley, to address the assembled
masses dozen or so.
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