Owen Smith and the Plebs League

 

Today may be leader's speech day here in Manchester, but there has also been a platform debut for the shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith.

Mr Smith began with a reference to the search for the missing Machynlleth five-year-old April Jones: "We all hope and pray she is back in her community with her family as soon as is humanly possible."

Then it was on to a traditional conference speech. Delegates were given Union flags to wave as the conference debated the future of the UK.

Mr Smith claimed that devolution had delivered a confident Wales at ease with its place in the UK. He argued that although there may be a need to deepen the devolution settlement, there were strong economic and emotional reasons for the British people to stick together.

As with Ed Miliband later, there was a also a clamber up the Smith family tree (and a joke at Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell's expense) to reinforce his agument that Britain was stronger together.

"We believed it a hundred years ago in the Rhondda Valley, when my great grandfather, Dafydd Humphrey Owen, fought for better prices and wages in the Cambrian Combine strike and the riots that followed it.

"One of the legacies of that struggle was a campaign for workers rights and education which brought people together from South Wales, Lancashire and Lanarkshire.

"It was called, of course, The Plebs League - and it's been tempting in recent weeks to think abour reviving it."

 
David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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