Owen Smith vows 'socialist revolution' to 'smash' austerity'

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has vowed to "smash" austerity by taxing the rich, and improving pay levels and workers' rights if he becomes prime minister.

Mr Smith set out plans for a "fair" Britain, pledging to abolish the Department for Work and Pensions, which he said had become a byword for "insecurity and cruelty".

The MP for Pontypridd announced plans to appoint a cabinet-level minister to deliver fair employment, end the public sector pay freeze and outlaw zero-hours contracts.

Mr Smith said he would introduce a new "wealth tax" on the investment earnings of the top 1% in the UK and a return to the 50p top rate of income tax

The measures, he said, would be used to help fund a four per cent increase in the NHS budget.

  • Fair employment

In a speech delivered on the symbolic site of the former Orgreave plant in Yorkshire, Mr Smith said Britain is "rapidly becoming the sick man of Europe when it comes to workers' rights", as he promised to shift power to employees and make the country the "envy of the world" on workers' rights.

The Welshman revealed plans to create a new Shadow Secretary of State for Labour, tasked with ensuring "quality jobs" and "the best protection for workers".

A Labour government with him as prime minister would replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a "muscular" Ministry of Labour and a "dedicated" Department for Social Security", he said.

Promising a "socialist revolution", Mr Smith said his plans were radical but not "pie in the sky".

Owen Smith's key policy pledges

  • A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity

  • Introducing modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions

  • Ending the public sector pay freeze

  • Increase spending on the NHS by 4% in real-terms in every year of the next parliament

  • Re-instate the 50p top rate of income tax

  • Reverse cuts to Inheritance Tax announced in the Budget

  • Reverse cuts to Capital Gains Tax announced in the Budget

  • Introduce a new wealth tax on the top 1% earners

  • A commitment to invest tens of billions in the north of England, and to bring forward High Speed 3

  • A pledge to build 300,000 homes in every year of the next parliament

Jeremy Corbyn faces a leadership challenge from fellow Labour MP Owen Smith. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Smith said a Labour government is needed to turn around a "frustrated" and "divided" country, where people "feel the system is rigged against them".

"We can only turn this country into a fairer, more prosperous place when Labour is in power," he said.

"What I feel right now is that Britain is not a contented country. We are a frustrated, divided, increasingly intolerant, angry country.

"We are a profoundly unequal country where individuals and communities feel deeply that life is unfair. A country where people feel the system is rigged against them. They are angry about it - and they are right to be angry about it.

"People in Britain are right to be furious about the inequality that exists. They're right to be angry that eight years after the financial crash, they're still being asked to pay the price for it."

Around 500 Labour councillors from the across the UK have revealed their support for Mr Smith.

A letter signed by the local politicians and published on LabourList.org website said Mr Corbyn's leadership rival "knows how to get things done".