Labour Accused Of 'Gutter Politics' Over Rishi Sunak Attack Ad

Ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell leads calls for Keir Starmer to withdraw suggestion prime minister does not think child sex abusers should be jailed.
Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak.
Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak.
PA News

The Labour Party has faced universal condemnation for publishing an advert attacking Rishi Sunak and suggesting the prime minister wants to spare child sex abusers from prison.

Figures across the political spectrum hit out at “gutter politics” after the party posted the ad on Twitter to argue Labour is the “party of law and order”.

The tweet carries an image that states: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.” It includes a photo of the PM and his signature.

The ad also points to apparent Ministry of Justice figures suggesting 4,500 people convicted of sexually assaulting children under-16 escaped jail “under the Tories”. This presumably means since 2010 – five years before Sunak became an MP, let alone prime minister.

Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell led the chorus of criticism.

He wrote on Twitter: “This is not the sort of politics a Labour Party, confident of its own values and preparing to govern, should be engaged in. I say to the people who have taken the decision to publish this ad, please withdraw it. We, the Labour Party, are better than this.”

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood described the ad as “appalling” and claimed it threatened to undermine the democratic process, adding: “We should be better than this. I’ve called it out on my own side for stooping low and do so again now.”

SNP MP John Nicolson said: “This is absolutely nauseating. Politics cheapened and debased. The Labour Party wants to win, of course, but like this?”

Many other figures on the left and right of politics were of a similar mind, calling the advert “idiotic”, “truly appalling” and a “new low in British political attack ads”.

A number pointed to how the Tories had been criticised over then prime minister Boris Johnson accusing Labour leader Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile while director of public prosecutions.

Starmer would later blame Johnson’s words for a mob surrounding him and accusing him of “protecting paedophiles”.

It comes amid heightened efforts by Labour and the Tories to pitch themselves as the party of law and order in the run-up to local elections.

Both main parties have put crime-fighting plans at the heart of their campaigns to snap up votes on May 4.

Starmer repeated his promise to halve levels of violence against women and girls as he met with charities supporting victims in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, earlier on Thursday.

Meanwhile Sunak has announced a crackdown on grooming gangs to protect young women and girls from sexual abuse, with measures including a new police taskforce of specialist officers and the collection of ethnicity data.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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