Sir Keir Starmer has said he will make “absolutely no apologies” for his party’s advertisements attacking Rishi Sunak.
Labor angered the Tory with posters saying the Prime Minister doesn’t think child molesters or thieves should go to prison.
Critics, including hardliners in his own party, described it as gutter politics. But the opposition leader stands by his party’s position, writing in the Mail tomorrow that he supports “every word Labor has said” on crime, “no matter how prudish some may look”.
His comments, in an exclusive article, sparked another backlash last night. In his article, Sir Keir says: ‘I make absolutely no apologies for my bluntness on this. I stand behind every word Labor has said on this subject. If 4,500 child molesters escape prison, people don’t want more excuses from politicians – they want answers.’
Sir Keir also says the Tories are ‘isolated’ from the effects of crime, adding: ‘Rishi Sunak and successive Tory governments have let criminals get away with it because they don’t get it.
Sir Keir Starmer’s comments, in which he said he would not apologize for the campaign, sparked another backlash last night
Labor came under fire from its own supporters on Thursday when it posted the first of its attack ads on Twitter (pictured here)
“They’ve never lived in those neighborhoods… they’ve never walked in those shoes. I have. I know exactly who suffers when the government is soft on crime: not those isolated from its consequences, but ordinary, decent people.’
His decision to support the posters will spark fresh anger from senior figures in the party. Yesterday it emerged that Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who is responsible for Labour’s crime policy, was unaware of the campaign.
But her intervention sparked a briefing war, with an insider telling the Mail on Sunday: “If Yvette disagrees so strongly with pointing out the Tories’ dismal record on crime, she knows where the door is.” She’s still delusional about being a leader, but leaders don’t stab people in the back.”
Referring to Ms Cooper’s comments, a Tory source told the Mail tonight: ‘If Sir Keir Softie can’t even control what’s happening at Labor headquarters, how can he ever be trusted to run a country? ‘
The source added that the leader’s refusal to apologize for the attack ads was “another example of Starmer’s Labor saying what they think is politically convenient in any given week.”
All Labor has achieved is to draw attention to Sir Softie’s activist lawyer past, campaigning for terrorists and paedophiles. Only the conservatives can be trusted to keep this country safe,” they added.
Last night The Times reported that Labor will launch further attacks on Rishi Sunak this week in more “provocative and aggressive” ads blaming him for the collapse of the economy.
Labor will argue that Sunak thinks it’s ‘acceptable’ for council tax to rise above £2,000 and that he ‘thinks it’s right’ for people to pay higher housing costs and mortgage rates.
Labor came under fire from its own supporters on Thursday when it posted the first of its attack ads on Twitter.
Alongside a photo of the prime minister, the image read: ‘Do you think adults convicted of child sexual abuse should go to prison? Not Rishi Sunak.’ The poster also added below: “Among the Tories, 4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under 16 have not served a prison sentence.”
It emerged yesterday that Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper (pictured last week with Sir Keir), who is in charge of Labour’s crime policy, was unaware of the campaign
Pictured here is another of the attack advertisements put out by the Labor Party on Thursday
However, judges and magistrates, not prime ministers, are responsible for handing out sentences. And the highlighted figures refer to the period from 2010 – but Mr Sunak only entered parliament in 2015 and only became prime minister in October last year.
In fact, Sir Keir was a member of the Sentencing Council as Director of Public Prosecutions for part of the period stated in the advertisements. He was on the council in 2012 when it was agreed that child molesters would not be automatically jailed, even though a maximum of 14 years in prison had been set.
The poster was labeled ‘one of the worst political advertisements in recent British history’ and critics – including those on the left – urged Labor to remove the poster.
But the next day, the party posted another photo – this time Mr Sunak suggested that adults convicted of possessing a weapon with intent to harm should not go to prison.
And on Saturday, Labor shared another suggesting Mr Sunak does not believe thieves should be punished.
Some party insiders think the furore is good for Labour’s electoral prospects, but a host of senior figures have criticized the tactic.
Lord Blunkett, the party’s former home secretary, wrote in the Mail that the ‘gutter’ attacks had left him ‘close to despair’ – and that Labor is ‘better than this’.
And shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell tried to distance herself from the posters, saying, “I didn’t design the image, it’s not my image.” But Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry defended the ads — though she admitted some people “didn’t feel comfortable with them.”
Labor is said to have held talks with political allies in America and Australia, including Paul Erickson, who masterminded Anthony Albanese’s general election victory last year. A source told the Mail tonight that the party is “determined to take on the Tories”.
“They may not be used to a Labor party wanting to campaign for law and order, but it’s important to Keir Starmer and he wants voters to have no doubts that we’re on their side,” they added .