Speaking on the BBC earlier today, Smith – who was a special adviser to Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy during the peace process – said that there was a need to get the so-called Islamic State group “around the table”.
“Ultimately all solutions to these crises do come about through dialogue. So eventually if we are to try and solve this, all of the actors do need to be involved. At the moment, Isil are clearly not interested in negotiating,” Smith said.
“But at some point, for us to resolve this, we will need to get people round the table.”
By contrast, current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took a much harder line, stating unequivocally: “They're not going to be round the table.”
The Conservatives have been rapid in their response to Smith's comments.
Defence select committee member and former British Army officer Johnny Mercer said the remarks showed that Smith is "unfit" to lead Labour.
“Everyone knows negotiation is far more desirable than violence in any conflict, but to suggest it in this case, is to entirely misunderstand and fail to grasp the challenge posed by Daesh," Mercer said.
“His desperate attempts to out-Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn have led him to the view that barbaric murderers who behead journalists and lynch homosexuals are now the sort of people that we should negotiate with.
“It shows that whoever wins this increasingly bizarre leadership election, I'm afraid Labour just cannot be trusted with keeping us safe.”
Smith's comments came after Corbyn again failed the maths behind his plans for huge national spending splurge.