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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 August 2016

Smith v refugees

Solidarity with refugees, marching in London on 12.9.15, photo Paul Mattsson

Solidarity with refugees, marching in London on 12.9.15, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Owen Smith, the right-wing Labour leadership contender, falsely claimed refugees are overcrowding his local schools.

He said the entry of "significant numbers into South Wales of people fleeing the Middle East" was responsible for lack of places. There are, in fact, surplus places in Rhondda Cynon Taf, his local authority. And the council has only taken in 18 refugees.

Where there is pressure on school places this is caused by cuts, sell-offs and underinvestment, not people fleeing wars. Some of these military actions Smith himself voted to support, including in Libya and Iraq - although admittedly he voted against bombing Syria.

This cynical play on legitimate fears about public services follows comments about being "normal" with "a wife and three children". This was widely interpreted as a homophobic dig at then-rival for the leadership Angela Eagle.

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