'You're Mincing Your Words': Naga Munchetty Clashes With Labour Frontbencher Amid Tweet Row

The party has been criticised over a graphic claiming the PM does not support the jailing of child sex offenders.
Naga Munchetty grills Lucy Powell
Naga Munchetty grills Lucy Powell

BBC presenter Naga Munchetty has clashed with a Labour frontbencher amid a furious row over a tweet by the party accusing Rishi Sunak of not believing child sex offenders should go to jail.

She accused Lucy Powell, the shadow deigital, culture, media and sport secretary, of “mincing her words” as the MP repeatedly refused to say whether she personally supported it.

The tweet, which was posted yesterday afternoon, 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”.

But the figures date back to 2010 – five years before Sunak even became an MP.

The tweet has come in for a wave of criticism from across the political spectrum, including from former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

He said: “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.”

On BBC Breakfast this morning, Powell was asked by Munchetty whether she stood by the tweet.

She said: “What I stand by is what that graphic is trying to show, which is the prime minister of our country is responsible for the criminal justice system of our country, and currently that criminal justice system is not working.”

But the presenter hit back: “I think you are aware of the point of this interview. As the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, I’m asking you - as a member of the shadow cabinet - if you stand by this tweet, which says the prime minister does not think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison.”

Powell replied: “I stand by what this tweet is, and what this campaign is, trying to highlight.”

But Munchetty then said: “No, you’re mincing your words. I don’t mean to be rude but you are mincing your words.

“You haven’t answered my question yet, and it’s quite a simple question. I asked if you believe Rishi Sunak thinks that adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison and you haven’t answered my question.”

The shadow minister responded: “The record of his government says that people are getting away lightly with these sorts of offences and he is the prime minister of that government. People produce digital campaigns and digital material and campaign literature to highlight these sorts of issues in these ways, and there are some really serious issues here at stake.”

She added: “This is a political point that we are making.”

But Munchetty replied: “You’re making a personal point ... saying that the prime minister doesn’t think that adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison and you will not say that you stand by that point, that you believe that. I don’t understand why.”

Powell then described the offending graphic as “a skit based on his own graphics that he extensively uses”.

She added: “I can see that it’s not to everybody’s taste, and that some people won’t like it, but that is the sort of cut and thrust nature of politics. I didn’t design the graphic, it’s not my graphic. I am here to explain what lies beneath it.”


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