UK Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith clash in first debate

Labour leader draws cheers in Cardiff showdown as he criticises challenger for resigning

jeremy corbyn, owen smith

Jeremy Corbyn watches Owen Smith speak during the first Labour Leadership debate | Photo: PA Images

The first UK Labour leadership debate has been dominated by shouting and booing in a tense showdown between the two candidates.

Owen Smith, who was heckled at times, told an audience of several hundred people in Cardiff that he was "the person who has got the ideas in this debate".

He added: "I think I'm the person who's got the energy in the debate and I think I see very clearly that we've not been what we need to be in recent months - which is a powerful, credible opposition to the Tory Party.

"They are riding roughshod over us - we have left Europe, we have got an NHS that is practically bankrupt, they are destroying Labour's legacy, ruining our Sure Start, overcrowding our schools."

His rival and incumbent Jeremy Corbyn said: "We did defeat the Tories in the May elections.

"I wish it had been by more but we were ahead of them at the end of it and the party is growing massively in membership - that must show something."

Sparking cheers, he challenged Mr Smith: "What I don't understand is how you can complain about disunity in the party when you and others are the ones who resigned from the shadow cabinet at the very point when we could have taken it to them."

Mr Smith replied: I'm not having that because you know that I wasn't part of any coup in the Labour Party.

"I didn't resign from the shadow cabinet on that Sunday.

"I went to see you, Jeremy, and you know I came to see you not to say 'can I resign?' but to say 'how can we get out of this problem?'"

Mr Corbyn earlier announced his 10-point programme to rebuild Britain, including a £500bn (€590bn) investment scheme overseen by a national investment bank over the next decade.

On Wednesday, Mr Smith set out his vision for the leadership, unveiling a "triple lock" of pensions overhaul, benefit changes and a higher minimum wage. Last week he made 25 policy pledges.

The result of the leadership contest will be announced at a Labour conference on September 24th.