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Thursday, December 07, 2006


Newport MP, Paul Flynn is renowned for speaking his mind, but even those who know him best may be surprised by his description of Labour's unsuccessful Blaenau Gwent by-election candidate Owen Smith as a "drug pusher". As the Western Mail points out, Mr Smith is a top lobbyist with the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

Mr Flynn said, "The lobbyists are a curse, a cancer in the system. It's insidious. One of my main interests in politics is areas in which lobbyists used their wicked wiles to get access to government. One example is the pharmaceutical industry, who are the most greedy and deceitful organisations we have to deal with."

Interviewer Patrick McGuinness then said, "Some of their lobbyists end up as candidates in Welsh Labour. Blaenau Gwent for instance."

Mr Flynn responded, "Indeed - I wasn't too pleased by the fact that we had a drug pusher as a candidate."

Mr Flynn also said, "The thing that made me angriest [about the Blaenau Gwent by-election campaign] was when one of my colleagues said that [independent candidate] Dai Davies lacked validity. Well he's got a hell of a lot more validity than Baroness Maggie Jones [the seat's defeated Labour candidate in last year's general election] has got. She's got no validity at all, and it seemed to turn democracy on its head to have a candidate who's been rejected by the people in the safest constituency in Britain and send her to the House of Lords."

I doubt if Mr. Flynn would have been much impressed with the Labour spin-doctor charged with the task of responding to his comments. That anonymous apparatchik claimed that Owen Smith's strong message on crime, antisocial behaviour and jobs struck a chord with local people, and that this led to an 8% swing back to Labour in the parliamentary by-election.

Perhaps, a more honest assessment would be that they got their arse kicked and that they are still smarting over it.
I believe I beat Paul Flynn to it in describing Owen Smith as a "drug pusher". At the time of the Blaenau Gwent by-elections, I also said that he was part of Labour's aim of hereditary rule in Wales (he is the son of Dai Smith).

I agree with you that these were not the reasons for New Labour's failing to regain the seats. However, there are too many people with Smith's sort of background being shoehorned into safe Labour seats.

- Frank Little

- Frank Little
The labour party has a long tradition of "keeping it in the family" in Wales.
Eluned Morgan for example!!
Tamsin Dunwoody is the classic example. Not only is her redoutable mother MP for Crewe, but her grandfather, Morgan Phillips, was General Secretary of the Party back in the 1950's!

I am not opposed to the phatmaceutical industry per se, but the activities of Roche in pushing Herceptin cross the line IMO.
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