Two senior Economic Advisors to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have come out in support of his leadership rival, Owen Smith.
David Blanchflower, who was formerly on the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England, and Simon Wren-Lewis, a professor at Oxford, have been members of Labour’s Economic Advisory Committee, but now are speaking out about their concerns with Corbyn’s leadership. The EAC, chaired by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, reported directly to Corbyn to help scrutinise economic policy and decisions.
Speaking of why he was backing Smith, Wren-Lewis said,
“What seems totally clear to me is that given recent events a Corbyn-led party cannot win in 2020, or even come close.
“I was highly critical of the anti-Corbynistas who wanted to argue that their antics were having no impact on public opinion, so it would be absurd for me to pretend that people would elect to power a Labour party that had voted no confidence in its leader.”
Blanchflower said that Smith had consulted with businesses and economists more in the last three weeks than Corbyn had in the last nine months.
“If [Smith] continues to refuse to denounce those calling for a split, then members will think he is simply trying to scaremonger them to vote for him by his talking up of threats from a minority of MPs supporting his campaign who are plotting to split our party in Tory newspapers, while at the same time refusing to denounce them.”
This was met with ire from certain branches of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who believe that the reason for the disunity is Corbyn’s unwillingness to compromise with the more centrist wings of Labour, and who believe that Smith’s credentials and alternate-left ideas would unite the party behind something new.