My view of Owen Smith standing for Labour is simple: I don't like him and I don't trust him. He says he's a socialist and a bit of a left winger.
He did march with the miners in South Wales, but somewhere along the line he became a consultant for the large pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and he followed the 'choice' line of his employer. He received a six figure salary as he went into Parliament. He favoured more of the Private Finance Initiative, which was Gordon Brown's Budgets fiddle that mortgaged the NHS and schools to private builders and costs a fortune into the future.
He didn't oppose austerity and did not oppose the Conservatives opening welfare cuts under the capitulating leadership of Harriet Harman.
He supported the renewal of Trident, voted for airstrikes in Iraq and Libya and has attended a few arms fairs.
I am not a socialist, but a social liberal. In the 2010-2015 Coalition the Liberal Democrats embraced economic liberalism and dumped their own supporters after a long period when the Liberal Democrats represented radicalism and were for quite a time to the left of Labour.
They propped up the Tories. I quite liked Miliband as he had social justice and libertarian leanings, a man of compassion. But when he faced the headlights of the General Election, he froze like a rabbit. He wasn't allowed to be himself, and he was probably insufficiently skilled to handle the criticisms, the legacies.
Whilst I overlap with Jeremy Corbyn and regard him as being what it says on his tin (unlike with Owen Smith), I don't think he is a competent organiser or has the necessary bite to be a Prime Minister. Whilst there are longstanding ideological objections to him from sitting MPs, and there is more to their objections than his competence, he is clearly incapable of organising his own office. What worries me are the more 'thuggish' types behind him who'd give him his backbone, as they have over this leadership election. I don't like the culture of some of the groups behind Corbyn, and he would never deal with them.
Theresa May's Opening Night of the Long Knives was, like Macmillan's long before her, a statement of weakness not strength, but neverthless a stamp of her feet. Corbyn on the other hand is letting MPs "unresign" and crawl back on to his front bench, which he can hardly fill. May is as yet untested when it comes to the near future of decisions. But to set up overlapping key ministries of potential opponents is a key political skill, by which decisions come up to her. She can dodge and weave, but in the end she can sow overlap and confusion among others in order to rule herself.
So far May has shown an ability to lead, but these are early days. Corbyn may have 'ideas', but if he cannot lead, he's no good. Women seem to be rather good in politics (even if disliking their policies): witness Hillary Clinton's speech against the lunacy of Donald Trump. Angela Merkel is all about a steady hand, and she didn't get where she is (and stay there so long) through Corbynist gentleness and simply ideas.
The EU referendum has created a divide and is reworking politics. When Corbyn said that Article 50 should be invoked immediately, he immediately lost any of my support. He also didn't consult his 'Labour team' (if there is one).
Politics is a sluggist game of timing and opportunity. Some of us think the referendum was wrong to be had in the first place (regardless of the result), a reckless gamble of party before country, that it became a misdirected protest by people who were never told how the EU works, and one campaign for in was wholly defensive and lacked any hope and idealism, and the other was a pack of tribal lies.
I don't know what "Brexit means Brexit" means. Theresa May has also said, "As we leave the European Union", which sounds like a process not a completion. Some of us think leaving the EU is a disaster and becomes, for the future, the number one issue and to resist. For every reason: for the economy, for liberties, for wider world (sharing) idealism on a political level, for free movement of young and elderly, for science co-operation and intellectual sharing, for voting transnationally.
I'm worried that Nick Clegg, not exactly the country's most reliable politician, is approaching 'monitoring' this exiting the EU as something that is going to be done. He should be resisting it, and saying a General Election is the opportunity for voting to reverse this. I want Tim Fallon to lay it on the line in a manifesto to say he will do everything so that Article 50 is never invoked: that he and his MPs stand for election on this basis.
So what does the future hold?
It looks like Corbyn will win easily. There is no doubt about this. Owen Smith is dodgy by history and by expression. He is televisual and no doubt can run things, but he is back to the same-old. It doesn't actually matter if he was fantastic. The fact is he will lose and badly.
Now some MPs will indeed unresign, because if Corbyn doesn't do it the members will: MPs that do not follow the Corbyn line will get deselected. So some MPs will keep the meal ticket. My friends who have joined Labour and paid £85 each to vote know that they will also be voting to deselect Karl Turner if he doesn't buckle under. Personally, I think he is a lousy MP so I hope he is replaced.
But some Labour MPs have clearly crossed the bridge. They have been so open in criticism of Corbyn that they will either informally or formally break away. Informally means just organising their own voting whilst being nominally Labour; the result will of course be deselection. The formal break away is a new party, one that reflects a more social democratic view. And that means back to co-operating with others. We think some could be Liberal Democrat; crumbs, some could even be Conservative at the fringes. What may well make the difference is Europe, and the pro-EU MPs go into loose (presumably) arrangements with the Liberal Democrats.
As for the Conservatives, their change would have been sooner with Remain vote, as they would have shattered: the "war would have continued" as Farage put it regarding UKIP before the results appeared. The Out vote has meant pro-EU Conservatives "having to accept the result" - at least as a process gets under way.
But it does not add up. You cannot have a single market without free movement, unless the EU changes this and the EEA too (the EU obeying economicf area for countries that might join). You cannot be in the single market if greater immigration control and sovereignty is asserted. You cannot have England out of the EU and Scotland in; there cannot be a UK out and Ireland in with no customs border between Ireland and the North of Ireland. The EU was essential in Ireland because it undermined nationalism, as it always does, so long as you are in the EU and voting transnationally. I mean, to have Irish MPs throughout the island in one Parliament is fantastic, even while Northern Ireland is part of the UK and Eire is independent. Plus the UK is a weak entity because it is not a federal state but a unitary state with a devolution that can slice through it like splitting slate.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary now, changes his mind anyway; it was that actual marginality of opinion ostensibly immediately after the result which got him knifed by Michael Gove. David Davis is having to square impossible circles and Liam Fox is currently jumping the gun trying to make trade deals when we cannot and we are not even in the World Trade Organisation. It is pre-arranging what might never come about.
What can come about, and is the second likeliest, is Article 50 is invoked and then the EU sits on its hands (the French will for sure) so that the EU achieves more and Britain less as the clock ticks for two years and you're out; the flexibility offered may be towards Scotland in a possible different independent future. Everyone will take a hit, but the EU hit is recoverable via relocations, whereas the British will have to devalue and scrabble around for trade deals here and there and attract investment towards a largely domestic economy.
The further problem is that we do not have enough legislative time or Civil Service resources to undo forty years of the EU running through the UK political and legal bloodstream. Look at how the Universal Credit has been so time-consuming that it is delayed and delayed - and that is just one major change. Imagine trying to replicate agricultural subsidies: do we go back to the pre-EU supply subsidy or replicate (yet change the funding streams) EU price based support? What about regional policy that became EU based?
How does it work? We continue to pay into the EU to get access to the single market AND we have to find the money for all the subsidies and supports that were part of the original dirigiste basis of the EU? So taxes will have to shoot up. Who is going to arrange all this and see that it works?
So what is most likely to happen is nothing, because at the moment we are doing nothing (except for a lousy offshoot Civil Service unit investigation of what needs to be done: even I know what needs to be done in general terms). Come the repeal of the 1972 Economic Communities Act, a whole void opens up and effective political panic. Would MPs even do it?
So the likely political result is the resignations of David Davis and Liam Fox. And that will be the end of the policy, because May will say they were in charge and that the Brexit means Brexit but not after its policy makers failed. When Davis and Fox goes, the Tory party will itself split. The 'loonies running the asylum' will be back 'outside the establishment'.
And there could be anyway a General Election, enormously unpredictable because four parties in a first past the post turns the contest into a lottery. If Lib Dems can attract the current 48%, then they will impact, but who knows whether UKIP will strengthen or weaken, or whether the Tories' current command over Labour will maintain itself, or Corbyn will attract the disaffected or instead find in the Midlands and North the same as happened to Labour in Scotland. But even a huge Tory majority would likely lead to a Tory split as the exiting the EU is demonstrably impractical, so a Tory party becomes two.
Of course Trump might win in the USA so we might all end up as nuclear toast anyway, or carved up by Putin, or something similar. The Pope says that we are at war already, largely economic (and social) too, never mind everything else. It sure could get worse. We sure should not be leaving the EU at times like these.