Keir Starmer has been criticised for describing one of the main political aims of Black Lives Matter as “nonsense”.
It is a central demand from Black Lives Matter campaigners, many of whom point to the high number of police killings of Black people and disproportionate uses of violence and stop and search – and now feel defunding is a “tangible goal” rather than a radical idea. The current wave of international action was sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
But Starmer said: “Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police.
“I was director of public prosecutions for five years. I’ve worked with police forces across England and Wales bringing thousands of people to court, so my support for the police is very strong.
“It’s a shame it’s getting tangled up with these organisational issues, with the organisation Black Lives Matter, but I wouldn’t have any truck with what the organisation is saying about defunding the police – that’s just nonsense.”
Starmer also appeared to play down the significance of Black Lives Matter, describing it as a “moment”.
He said: “There’s a broader issue here. The Black Lives Matter movement – or moment, if you like – internationally is about reflecting something completely different. It’s reflecting on what happened dreadfully in America just a few weeks ago and showing or acknowledging that as a moment across the world.”
Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Jermain Jackman, who stood for the party’s NEC in February and has campaigned for the party since 2017, were among those who appeared to criticise the leader’s choice of words.