By Chris York
It is one of the most common demands 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.
But he 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.”
A number of people on social media took issue with his choice of words.
Keir Starmer #BlackLivesMatter isn’t a ‘moment’ about US. How do you not recognise a movement against centuries of incalculable dehumanisation of Black people resulting from institutional racism in US & UK? Your words are same as #BorisJohnson on this. Not impressed.#BBCBreakfasthttps://t.co/ftL4JkRvsW
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) June 29, 2020
Dire, condescending, awful. https://t.co/dWeivFABqn
— The 1987 Caucus Movement✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽 (@1987Caucus) June 29, 2020
Keir Starmer not covering himself in glory here. (It’s also important to know that “defund the police” is about reallocating some £ to other public services: community outreach, mental health, education). You can disagree with that but it isn’t nonsense. pic.twitter.com/6nXJwKzCeZ
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) June 29, 2020
Starmer also said he is “sweating blood” to rebuild public trust in his party, despite a recent poll suggesting that public opinion favoured his leadership over that of the current prime minister.
Asked if he thought he would make a better prime minister than Boris Johnson on Sky News, he said: “I focus on the fact that last December the Labour Party lost very badly in a general election, and that’s our starting point.
“I’ve got a mountain to climb to get our party from where it is to where it needs to be to win the next general election, and I’m sweating blood on that.
“I’m not going to be deflected from the enormity of the task that I face. I’ve got to rebuild trust in the Labour Party, trust in a force for good and a force for change.
“I’m determined to do that, but I’ve got a long, long way to go.”
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