Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Keir Starmer

“Promote peace and human rights … and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy” 

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leadership Candidate, Leadership Campaign Pledge #4

Facts

In Sir Keir Starmer’s 2020 Labour leadership manifesto he pledged to “Promote peace and human rights … and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy”

In September 2020 Starmer sacked three junior ministers after they voted against the Overseas Operations Bill which would introduce a presumption against prosecution for British troops serving abroad. 

One of the Junior Ministers, Nadia Whittome, had expressed concern the bill “would effectively decriminalise torture.” Labour MP’s had been whipped to abstain. 

At the time of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip Starmer aroused anger in many parts of the Labour Party when, on 11 October 2023, he stated Israel had the “right” to withhold power and water from Palestinians. This is illegal under international law.

In an interview on Newsnight the following day Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Emiliy Thornberry, also refused to state that cutting off “food, water and electricity” was against international law.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, speaking on 15 October 2023 also refused to acknowledge that the “siege” of Gaza was against international law.

Starmer later claimed his words had been misconstrued and he was simply defending Israel’s “right” to defend itself. In the original clip it is crystal clear Starmer is responding to the question: “A siege is appropriate? Cutting off power, cutting off water?” 

In his clarification Starmer stressed he was pressing “for humanitarian aid to come in” to Gaza. He still did not call on Israel to restore water and electricity supplies.

Verdict

While difficult to categorise this firmly as a broken pledge, Starmer’s actions have certainly been a major disappointment to human rights advocates. 

We emailed Sir Keir Starmer’s office and Labour offering them the chance to respond. We received no response.

Published 28 Jun 2024
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