Sir Keir Starmer has tried to show that Labour is a party of government by clamping down on dissenting shadow ministers who join picket lines.
But last night he was accused of hypocrisy after a video emerged of him not only standing shoulder to shoulder with strikers, but vowing to continue to do so as party leader.
Last week, he sacked transport spokesman Sam Tarry MP, the partner of deputy leader Angela Rayner, for giving interviews on rail union picket lines.
Keir Starmer was accused of hypocrisy after a video emerged of him not only standing shoulder to shoulder with strikers, but vowing to continue to do so as party leader
‘It’s really important you get politicians to come out and support you and stand with you in this,’ Sir Keir Starmer told University and College Union activists on a picket line outside University College London in February 2020
Last week, Sir Keir sacked transport spokesman Sam Tarry MP (pictured), for giving interviews on rail union picket lines
Defending the sacking, he declared: ‘The Labour Party in opposition needs to be the Labour Party in power, and a government doesn’t go on picket lines.’
Yet in February 2020 it appears he was singing a very different tune. In a video posted on Twitter yesterday, Sir Keir was captured with University and College Union activists on a picket line outside University College London.
He told strikers who were taking action over pay, equality and workloads: ‘It’s really important you get politicians to come out and support you and stand with you in this.
‘So I’m very proud to be with you and support you through this campaign, both as the local MP for here, but also in the shadow cabinet, and running as leader of the Labour Party.
‘Because my leadership, if I win it, will be standing with you and other campaigns like you so we can win issues like this that are so important.’
Appearing to make his support for strike action crystal clear, Sir Keir added: ‘It’s really good to see staff and students standing together. This is a very, very big and important dispute.
‘I’ve just been with your colleagues at SOAS [the School of Oriental and African Studies] who’ve got a picket line, and before Christmas across University College there were picket lines all the way around.
‘This is yet another example of their “Do as I say, not as I do” approach,’ said Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland (pictured)
‘And I was up in Leeds the other day with your colleagues up there. This is a very, very strong movement.’
Responding to the revelation of Sir Keir’s changing attitudes, Secretary of State for Wales Sir Robert Buckland said last night: ‘The summer heat is well and truly on Labour as their flip-flopping and divisions become daily more apparent.
‘This is yet another example of their “Do as I say, not as I do” approach.’
Left-wing activist Aaron Bastani, who shared the video, added: ‘Middle-class liberals like him, they seem to have no real issue with his lying. But this is crazy.’
Sir Keir has come under pressure from his own shadow ministers to modify his edict banning them from joining picket lines.
‘Middle-class liberals like him, they seem to have no real issue with his lying. But this is crazy,’ left-wing activist Aaron Bastani tweeted
Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling-up spokesman, was pictured on Monday with striking BT workers in Wigan.
Unlike Mr Tarry, no action was taken against her, with her allies saying she had received clearance from Labour HQ to attend.
Members of the shadow cabinet urged Sir Keir to change his edict this week to let them show their solidarity for strikers, as long as they do not wave any placards.