"There is an enormous choice, a choice of a generation, a watershed for Labour – whether we move forward to becoming once more… looked at by the country as a credible alternative to the Tories, or whether we recede into irrelevance, being thought of as not able to take back the reins of power from the Tories," Smith said in his preelection speech, as quoted by The Guardian.
"It’s an ugly vision of what Britain could become, without a Labour opposition. And I’m not prepared to stand by and see another 18 years of the Tories, as we did in the 1980s. Britain would be unrecognisable at the end of that," Smith said.
Smith is running for the position of Labour leader against incumbent Jeremy Corbyn, who refused to step down after a no-confidence vote among parliamentary members following the Brexit referendum.
The election is due to end on September 21. The result of the voting is expected to be announced at a Leadership Conference in Liverpool on September 24.