Owen Smith suggests Labour hustings audience might be entryists after they laugh at his praise for Kezia Dugdale

The leadership candidate said he was 'really worried' about the audience's reaction

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Indy Politics

Owen Smith has suggested people in a Labour hustings audience might be entryists after they laughed at his claim the leader of Scottish Labour was “doing a brilliant job”.

Mr Smith was debating Jeremy Corbyn in Glasgow days after ballot papers were issued to members to elect the party’s next leader.

When the two candidates were asked about the future of Scottish Labour, Mr Smith said of Kezia Dugdale: “I think Kezia’s doing a brilliant job. I think she’s a fantastic role model.”

Loud laughter immediately erupted from parts of the audience in response to the statement.

Mr Smith, who is trying to oust Mr Corbyn as leader, said it was “really worrying” that parts of the audience appeared to not support their party leader.

Visibly confused and angry, he suggested that the response might be down to “entryism”.

“Well I think Kezia is doing a fantastic job, I think she’s a great role model for Labour across this country and I’m really worried that I’m hearing a Labour audience laughing and jeering at the leader of Scottish Labour. Really worrying,” he said.

“I am… If we're… worried about entryism, I presume you still support the leader of the Scottish Labour party? Because I do – I think she’s doing a great job.”

Ms Dugdale became Scottish Labour leader in August 2015, shortly after Scottish Labour was nearly wiped at Westminster. 

Scottish Labour suffered poor results in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, coming in third behind the Tories and with Ms Dugdale failing to win her constituency seat.