"Radical and credible" – that is the platform Owen Smith will be running on in a bid to become Labour's next leader. The only problem for the former shadow work and pensions secretary is that he is up against Jeremy Corbyn, the "radical and credible" incumbent who swept to victory in the party's 2015 leadership election with almost 60% of the vote.

There is also the matter of Angela Eagle, another former shadow cabinet member who wants the top job. Eagle and Smith will both have to secure at least 51 nominations from Labour MPs and MEPs after the party's ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), voted 18 to 14 yesterday evening (12 July) to automatically include Corbyn on the ballot.

Anti-Corbyn plotters had hoped that the NEC would force the left-winger to attract the 51 nominations after only 40 Labour MPs voted against a motion of "no confidence" on the leader.

Smith, 46, distanced himself from the manoeuvres as he officially launched his leadership bid on the airwaves this morning. He also told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he backed Corbyn's anti-austerity policies, while revealing that he had lost "faith and confidence" in the man and not his ideas.

"Jeremy Corbyn has been right about a lot of things but he is not a leader who can lead us into an election and win for Labour," he argued.

But the problem for the bespectacled Smith is that Corbyn has the backing of the "Pretorian guard" in the shape of his pressure group Momentum and the challenger lacks the name recognition of the veteran parliamentarian. In fact, many voters are likely wondering who Smith is.

Well, the married father of three first entered parliament after the 2010 general election when he was elected to the safe Labour seat of Pontypridd, South Wales. His victory came after his last run for the House of Commons in 2006, when he was beaten by Independent Dai Davies in the Blaenau Gwent by-election.

Before politics, the son of historian Professor Dai Smith read French and history at the University of Sussex. A career in journalism followed for the comprehensive schooled Smith, with producing positions at BBC Wales' political show Dragon's Eye and later at the flagship current affairs Today Programme on BBC Radio 4.

Smith, who reportedly joined Labour at the tender age of 16, first entered the "dirty game" of politics proper in 2002 when he became special adviser to New Labour's Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy. He later moved into the business world by heading up Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals' communications team in the UK between 2005 and 2008, a role which apparently commanded a £80,000-a-year salary according to The Telegraph.

Corbyn supporters are already attacking Eagle for backing the controversial Iraq War, will they raise Smith's past connections to big business? Either way, Smith and Eagle are the underdogs in the leadership contest. Corbyn has the support of the trade unions, including Unison and Unite, as well as proven campaign team.

Smith, in comparison, is a relative unknown, who risks splitting the "soft-left" by running against Eagle. But as the past fortnight of British political turmoil has shown, stranger things have happened.