Labour’s Sunak ad’s Emily Thornberry defends “valid issue” 2023

Emily Thornberry defended a highly criticized Labour commercial that implies Rishi Sunak does not believe individuals convicted of sexually abusing children should be imprisoned.

During BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions on Friday, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry was asked if she felt Sunak had such views. She said, “If he feels that everyone involved for child abuse should get a jail term, why are so many not getting one?” The opposition may ask since he’s the prime minister.”

The “very insulting” poster left Labour former home secretary David Blunkett “near to despair” and signified a plunge into “gutter” politics, he added.

David Blunkett considers ad “very unpleasant” and shadow attorney general labels some people “extremely uncomfortable.”

In a Daily Mail commentary, he wrote: “Once you stoop to personal insult, you increase the risk that Britain’s public debate may deteriorate even further – to the heights that we have seen recently in the US.

“When unfounded claims and specious smears substitute open and robust political discourse, not only are our leaders damaged, the fundamental underpinnings of our democracy are compromised.”

Lord Blunkett called on party leader Keir Starmer to intervene, calling it “difficult to imagine” that he would condone releasing such information during a local election campaign.

“Unacceptable words and imagery of this like are never used again, and that the persons responsible for it be properly dealt with,” he advised Starmer.

“Appalling,” said senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, while former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted, “We, the Labour party, are better than this.”

The shadow culture secretary, Lucy Powell, said the commercial was “not to everybody’s taste”. She defended the party’s efforts.

“Some felt extremely uncomfortable about it; some believed that it was racist – and I have to say I think they are mistaken,” Thornberry said of the advert’s critics. I think we need a debate in this nation because Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, is accountable for a flawed judicial system.”

The Thursday social media commercial features Sunak with a prime ministerial signature and the question, “Do you think offenders convicted of sexually abusing children should go to prison?” Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

“Labour is law and order,” runs the caption.

Laura Trott, the pensions minister on Any Questions, termed the ad “desperate”. It “disgusted” Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson, who said, “This is not an attack ad my party would deploy.”

Labour attacked the Tories ahead of the May municipal elections despite the impact. On Friday, it tweeted a similar ad accusing Sunak of being soft on gun violence. “Do you think an adult convicted of having a gun with intent to harm should go to prison?” asks the ad. Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

“Under the Conservatives, 937 adults convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to harm served no prison time,” the ad states, citing Ministry of Justice data.

Blunkett said it “absurd to claim that the prime minister must accept personal responsibility for the sentencing policy of judges”.

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