Jeremy Corbyn first announced many of the policies being put forward by Owen Smith months ago, the incumbent leader’s campaign team has suggested.
The Labour leadership challenger today laid out plans to bring back sectoral wages councils to regulate low pay and establish a Ministry of Labour to bring about full employment.
Mr Smith made the pledges in a speech in Yorkshire, where he set out 20 different policies. They include banning zero-hours contracts, reversing planned cuts in corporation tax, and unveiling a £200bn investment programme.
A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn welcomed Mr Smith’s adoption of the policies and suggested many of them were copied from, or similar to, those of the current Labour leader.
“We welcome Owen’s focus on equality of outcome, reindustrialisation and workers' rights – and his support for policies announced in recent months by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell,” the spokesperson said.
“We are delighted he has echoed John McDonnell’s call for the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour, made last month at the Institute of Employment Rights, and Jeremy Corbyn's call for a ban on exclusive workforce recruitment from abroad, made during the referendum campaign, among other policies.
“Owen’s speech today shows the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated he is placing economic justice and fairness back at the heart of Labour politics. Under Jeremy, Labour has put restoring dignity and pride in our communities worst hit by decades of neglect at the core of our politics.”
Mr Corbyn suggested creating a Ministry of Labour during the 2015 contest and the policy was repeated by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell this year.
Mr McDonnell also earlier this month made a similar investment pledge to Mr Smith, pledging £500bn of infrastructure investment through a National Investment Bank system.
The similarity between the two policy platforms shows Mr Smith’s determination to neutralise the popularity of Mr Corbyn’s policy platform with his supporters. Instead, his campaign has previously stressed a perceived difference in competence.
Earlier this week he attempted to woo Mr Corbyn's supporters by offering his rival a place on any Shadow Cabinet he formed.
Mr Smith has also questioned Mr Corbyn’s values, attacking him as “metropolitan”.
“I’m not sure I’ve heard him talking much about Scotland as an identity, or Wales as an identity, or indeed about England as an identity. I suspect Jeremy has a rather more metropolitan sense of that, and that’s not one I think is central to the Labour tradition, the challenger told BBC’s Newsnight programme earlier this week.
“He’s got a set of liberal perspectives and left perspectives on things, and nationhood and nationalism and patriotism aren’t really part of his make-up,”
There remain some distinctions between the two campaigns on policy, however. Mr Smith supports building more Trident nuclear weapons and has suggested holding a second EU referendum to confirm any negotiated deal before Brexit.
The two candidates will go face-to-face against each other at a hustings event in Cardiff on 4 August. Other televised hustings are also expected.
The winner of the contest will be announced before the Labour conference in the autumn.
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