“Please withdraw this. It’s lower than low"
The Labour Party is facing backlash for its controversial new campaign advert.
The advert bears a picture of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak alongside the words:
“Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”
To justify the claim, the advert cites the fact that “under the Tories”, 4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under the age of 16 had served no prison time.
The data appears to come from Labour research dating back to 2010, when Mr Sunak was yet to become an MP and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was serving as Director of Public Prosecutions.
The advert was shared by Labour’s main account and retweeted by a number of several Labour figures, including Starmer’s Director of Strategy.
It was met with outrage from celebrities.
Actor and director Samuel West wrote:
“Please withdraw this. It’s lower than low and I’m embarrassed to be a member when this is the way you campaign.”
Loose Women presenter India Willoughby said:
“Just horrible. What has happened to you?”
Many politicians also condemned the advert.
Labour backbencher John McDonnell wrote:
“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.”
Calling the advert “appalling”, senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said:
“We should be better than this. I’ve called it out on my own side for stooping low and do so again now.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s Lucy Powell refused to say whether she stands by the advert.
On BBC Breakfast, she said:
“What I stand by is what that graphic is trying to show, which is that 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.”
On whether she stood by the advert, Ms Powell said:
“I stand by what this tweet and this campaign is trying to highlight.
“The graphic itself, obviously, is a skit based on his own graphics that he extensively uses.”
“I can see it’s not to everybody’s taste and some people won’t like it.
“I didn’t design the graphic but I’m here to explain what lies beneath it – which is a very serious point about what is happening to our criminal justice system, which is pretty shocking.”
A spokesperson for Labour said: “The Conservatives have left dangerous convicted criminals free to roam the streets.
“Labour is the party of law and order, and we will implement tougher sentences for dangerous criminals.”