Owen Smith pledges 'equality of outcome' in break with Blair era


Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has committed himself to greater equality at work, announcing plans to appoint a cabinet-level minister to deliver fair employment.

In a clear signal of a shift in approach from the New Labour era, Mr Smith said he would focus Labour's efforts on achieving "equality of outcome" rather than the "equality of opportunity" pursued under Tony Blair.

It comes after he criticised party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Blair for not being radical enough and called for Labour to be more bold.

In a speech to be delivered on the highly-symbolic site of the former Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire, Mr Smith will urge Labour to "rediscover a sense of national mission for Britain" by committing to fighting for more equal outcomes for all.

The former shadow work and pensions secretary's intervention comes amid mounting concern over workplace issues like zero-hours contracts, casualised labour in the "gig economy" and the growing pay gap between bosses and workers.

Recent parliamentary reports have raised concerns over the stewardship of companies like Sports Direct and BHS by multi-millionaire owners.

Mr Smith will set out his vision of a future of "fair taxes, fair employment and fair funding", pledging to deliver better workers rights and make Britain a "world leader for pay and conditions".

If he beats Jeremy Corbyn to be named leader on September 24, he promised to create a new Ministry of Labour, with a shadow secretary of state for labour in opposition.

Mr Smith is expected to say: "We need to rediscover a sense of national mission for Britain.

"A faith in our country as having a future as bright as its past. And one where the fruits of our collective success are shared more equally between us.

"Where outcomes can be equal, not just the opportunities we create. That is why I am in politics."

And he will add: "The Labour Party has achieved so much for social justice, but we need to be more than just our history. So in the next few weeks I'll be setting out my vision for Labour's future. A future of fair taxes, fair employment and fair funding.

"That means investment not cuts, with a British New Deal to defeat Tory austerity and rebalance the country. And under my leadership, it would mean a strengthening of employment rights including creating a new shadow cabinet secretary of state for labour tasked with making Britain the envy of the world for the quality of our jobs and the protections they have, so workers have access to better terms and conditions."

Orgreave was the scene of a major confrontation between police and pickets during the 1984 miners' strike.

The coking plant closed in 1991 and the site was redeveloped into a business park.

Five hundred Labour councillors from the across the country have pledged their support for Mr Smith.

A letter signed by the local politicians and published on LabourList.org, a centre-left blogsite independent of the party, said Mr Corbyn's opponent had made a convincing case that he "knows how to get things done".

They called on voters to get behind the "unifying" candidate and complained of bullying and intimidation on both sides of the party.

Mr Smith kicked off a series of rallies for supporters in London on Tuesday night, where he again raised fears of a split in the party.