Poor Owen Smith. People are being a bit beastly to him over a press release which he issued some years ago when he was working as a lobbyist for Pfizer. It certainly seems to be clear that the press release in question expressed support for greater privatisation in the NHS; I can’t see how anyone can seriously deny that. But the man himself has also been absolutely clear that he has always believed in the idea that the NHS should be free. The problem is that people are having difficulty reconciling those two statements.
However, in fairness to him, it seems perfectly simple to reconcile the two things; at that time, he was speaking for his employer and expressing the employer’s opinion, but now he’s speaking as a politician and expressing his own views. All perfectly straightforward and obvious.The part I don’t understand though is this: why would anyone think that being willing to argue and lobby for a privatisation which you fervently oppose simply because you’re being paid to do so is somehow a lesser sin than actually supporting privatisation because you think it’s the right thing to do? I’d have thought that was a bigger problem for a politician claiming to be principled, not a lesser one.