Keir Starmer To Take Unconscious Bias Training And Says Everyone Should Do So

After controversial comments about Black Lives Matter, Labour leader says he was "uncomfortable" with police treatment of a Black Team GB sprinter.

Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.

Keir Starmer has revealed he will take unconscious bias training after his controversial comments about Black Lives Matter and insisted everybody should do so.

The Labour leader was criticised last week after describing BLM as a “moment” and suggesting the aims of some campaigners to “defund the police” were “nonsense”.

But Starmer insisted he meant that the BLM protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in US police custody needed to be a “defining moment” and a “turning point”.

He also said he was “uncomfortable” about police’s treatment of Black Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner and questioned whether officers’ use of handcuffs was justified when they stopped and searched the pair while they were driving with their three-month-old baby in west London on Saturday.

Responding to controversy about his comments on BLM, Starmer told Call Keir on LBC: “What I was saying last week was that Black Lives Matter needs to be a moment, and I meant a defining moment, a turning point, I didn’t mean a fleeting moment.

“So I was saying let’s not get bogged down in some of the organisational issues, let’s treat it for what it is – a moment, a turning point, a defining moment.

“I have to admit that if I’d put the word defining actually into the moment it would have been a lot easier but that’s what I meant.”

He also revealed that everyone in the Labour party would be taking a two to three hour course of unconscious bias training, designed to make people aware of how they may discriminate without thinking about it.

“I think everybody should have unconscious bias training, I think it is important,” Starmer said.

“There is always the risk of unconscious bias and just saying: ‘Oh well it probably applies to other people not me’ is not the right thing to do.

“So I’m going to lead from the front on this and do the training.”

Turning to the stopping and searching of Williams, who has accused the police of “racial profiling”, and her partner Ricardo dos Santos, Starmer said: “I’ve looked at the video footage, the video footage only deals with what happened when the officers were at the car, so I can’t say what happened before they got to the car.

“When they got to the car I didn’t really think they handled it very well at all because it was clear there was a child, a very young child in the back, and the use of handcuffs is always controversial and I couldn’t actually see what the justification for that was.

“We’ll wait and see, it will be for the police to justify their actions and I don’t know what led to the stop in the first place.

“What I do know is that if I was a senior officer looking at that video footage I would feel uncomfortable about the way that it was dealt with.”

Starmer meanwhile said he would be talking to shadow communities secretary Steve Reed after he alluded to Jewish businessman Richard Desmond being a “puppet master” for the Tory cabinet.

Tory donor Desmond is at the centre of a “cash for favours” row over a £1bn property deal controversially signed off by housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

Sources close to Reed told the Sun the shadow cabinet minister did not know Desmond was Jewish and has now deleted the tweet.

Responding, Starmer said: “I haven’t seen that, I haven’t discussed it with Steve, but I will do.”

Later on Monday, Labour sources said Reed would face no further action.

“Steve deleted the tweet and did not mean to cause any offence,” a spokesman said.


What's Hot