Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn lay out visions for Labour

Corbyn says the party under his leadership ‘will listen to ideas from the bottom up’

Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith  said he understood the exclusion members felt during the years of Labour government when the party’s annual conference had not been sovereign. Photograph:  Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith said he understood the exclusion members felt during the years of Labour government when the party’s annual conference had not been sovereign. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

 

Owen Smith has pledged Labour policies will be bound by party conference decisions both in opposition and in government, while Jeremy Corbyn announced a raft of new proposals for party democracy as leadership ballots landed with Labour members on Monday.

Mr Smith said he understood the exclusion members felt during the years of Labour government when the party’s annual conference had not been sovereign, and said he would lead “a revolution in accountability”, where members would have to sign off on the general election manifesto.

“I know the biggest fear that is in members’ minds on this day when they are considering making up their minds on this choice is a concern we will go back there again, to a period of top-down control where members were to be seen and not heard,” he said.

“I promise you it will not happen if I am the leader of this party.” Mr Corbyn has also pledged a sovereign conference and measures to improve diversity in the party.

Mr Smith cited examples of conference votes against foundation hospitals in 2003, which the Labour government carried on with regardless. In 2004 and 2013, the Labour conference voted to renationalise the railways, which was not in either the 2005 or 2015 manifestos. “My promise to the party is that I will not ignore conference. I will bind myself to the decisions made by conference about party policy,” Mr Smith said.

Announcing his policies, Mr Corbyn said “Labour under my leadership will listen to ideas from the bottom up, and take radical action to transform and rebuild our country so that no one and no community is left behind. We need nothing less than a democratic revolution . . .”

– (Guardian service)