Let battle commence

Owen Smith Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Owen Smith has emerged as the sole challenger to Jeremy Corbyn

Owen Smith has never been a politician who lacks confidence but even he must realise the scale of the task ahead of him.

We are heading into another long hot summer of soul searching for the Labour Party, but the circumstances this time round could not be more different.

There was a sense last year that Labour members welcomed the opportunity to reflect on the future.

Now we've had a year of blood-letting and the party's very future appears to be at stake and, as a result, there will be an intensity to the Corbyn versus Smith contest right from the beginning.

Head of steam

This time last year, Jeremy Corbyn was the rank outsider. Now he goes into the latest challenge with the confidence that he had an overwhelming victory less than a year ago.

The latest YouGov poll for the Times puts him well ahead, and some Welsh Labour insiders admit it's difficult to see past another Corbyn win.

That said, strange things happen in leadership contests, and Owen Smith could build a head of steam this summer that will give him a chance for the top job.

As I said earlier, Owen Smith never lacks confidence, he also never lacks energy, and he'll need all of that in August hustings around the country.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn says he retains the support of Labour members

Much depends on the registered supporters. Jeremy Corbyn won last year even among the full members, but the impact of the £3 supporters gave him a huge lead.

It now costs £25 to become a registered supporter, and there's only a 48 hour window to sign up.

We don't know the figures yet but it is fair to say they will have less of an impact.

I presented a documentary last year about Jeremy Corbyn, largely based in the Rhondda valley, ironically a stone's throw from Owen Smith's Pontypridd constituency.

It was clear then that Corbyn was tapping into the disillusionment with the political establishment in a way that no-one else on the left could match.

To mount an effective challenge, Owen Smith will now have to get his central argument across that the current leader doesn't have what it takes to get into power.

The follow-up claim is that unless Labour has a realistic chance of getting into Downing Street, it's not doing what is says on the tin which is to represent working people. Let battle commence.

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