BLMUK hits out at Sir Keir Starmer in police funding row

BLMUK says Sir Keir Starmer was ‘a cop in an expensive suit’ when he was head of the CPS and he has ‘no right to tell us what our demands should be’

  • Activists hit out at Labour leader after he said defunding police was ‘nonsense’
  • Sir Keir added that the message of the movement was getting ‘tangled up’
  • BLM behind a number of high-profile protests across Britain in recent weeks 

The UK’s Black Lives Matter movement has told Sir Keir Starmer he has no right ‘to tell us what our demands should be’ after he claimed the campaign’s message was getting ‘tangled up’.

BLM has been behind a number of high-profile protests which have taken part across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US last month.

It has also played a key role in the removal of statues which glorify historical figures who profited from slavery.

Black Lives Matter calls to ‘defund the police’, as demonstrated in a sign at a protest on Sunday, pictured, have been rubbished as ‘nonsense’ by the Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer, pictured at a north London school on Monday, was branded ‘a cop in an expensive suit’ by activists

However, calls to ‘defund the police’ have been rubbished as ‘nonsense’ by the Labour leader, who in turn was branded ‘a cop in an expensive suit’ by activists, referencing his previous job as head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

In listing its aims on a GoFundMe page, which has received more than £1 million in donations, BLM says it is ‘guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world’. 

Furthermore, it pledges to spend funds on ‘developing and delivering training, police monitoring and strategies for the abolition of police’.

However, Sir Keir sparked fury from the movement on Monday when he told BBC Breakfast: ‘Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police. I would have no truck with that.

‘I was director of public prosecutions for five years, I worked with police forces across England and Wales, bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police  is very, very strong and evidenced in the joint actions I’ve done with the police.

‘There’s a broader issue here, the Black Lives Matter movement, or moment, internationally is about reflecting something completely different, it’s reflecting on what happened dreadfully in America just a few weeks ago and acknowledging that as a moment across the world.

‘It’s a shame it’s getting tangled up with these organisational issues with the organisation Black Lives Matter. I don’t have any truck with what the organisation is saying about defunding the police or anything else, that’s just nonsense.’

The UK’s Black Lives Matter movement responded to Sir Keir’s criticism on social media and said he had no right ‘to tell us what our demands should be’

Responding on social media, a BLM spokesperson wrote: ‘When we say ‘Defund the police’ we mean ‘Invest in programmes that actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing. Key services to support the most vulnerable before they come into contact with the criminal justice system’.

‘As a public prosecutor, Sir Keir Starmer was a cop in an expensive suit. 

‘While black people are now incarcerated at the same rate as African Americans, the prison population in Britain has almost doubled since the 1980s. This has affected all working class people in Britain.  

‘The expansion of police and prison power has not made our communities safer.

‘We can no longer allow governments from any party to police or imprison away social problems. 

‘Neither can we allow former Prosecutors to tell us what our demands should be.’

The row comes after Sir Keir slapped down his hard Left critics as he defended his decision to sack leading Corbynista Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an ‘anti-Semitic conspiracy theory’.

The Labour leader said he was right to axe his former challenger from her job as shadow education secretary after she retweeted an interview with the ex-Communist actress Maxine Peake.

Sir Keir’s decision to remove Ms Long-Bailey sparked fury among leading left-wing figures who accused him of starting a purge

Speaking to the Independent Ms Peake accused the Israeli security services of teaching US police the ‘neck choke’ move which was used to kill George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Sir Keir’s decision to remove Ms Long-Bailey, who stood as the continuity Corbynite candidate for leader following Labour’s election disaster last December, sparked fury among leading left-wing figures who accused him of starting a purge.

But he told Good Morning Britain on Monday that Ms Peake’s accusation was ‘the same old, same old, which is a problem anywhere in the world, point the finger at Israel’.

He added: ‘I took the view that it was anti-Semitism.

‘Rebecca had tweeted about it. I wanted her to take her tweet down straight away and that didn’t happen. And in the end I asked her to stand down from the shadow cabinet.’ 

He added: This is not a left right issue in the Labour Party, it’s an issue of principle for me. Zero tolerance on antisemitism. 

I would have taken the same action in relation to anyone else in the Labour Party.’

Following Ms Long-Bailey’s dismissal, Ms Peake acknowledged that her comments in an interview with the Independent had been ‘inaccurate’.

Ms Long-Bailey, however, insisted it was not ‘racist or anti-Semitic’ to draw attention to concerns about police tactics.

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