This week, the Home Office’s plan to deport 50 convicted criminals of violent, sexual or drug offenses to Jamaica was disrupted after a campaign by Labor MPs.
Two days before the flight was scheduled to take off, Clive Lewis wrote to Priti Patel to request it She “cancels the proposed deportation of up to 50 black British residents” adding that deportations “embody the government’s continued” hostile environment “agenda” and that “[t]The fight against institutionalized racism begins step by step. “
Almost 70 mostly Labor MPs signed Lewis’ letter, including Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Rebecca Long-Bailey, John McDonnell, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, and celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Thandie Newton, who wrote to airlines asking them to take the orders of the Ministry of Interior not to carry out. After a series of legal challenges, 30 criminals were taken off the flight, including a rapist and a London murderer.
Where was Keir Starmer in all of this? Many noted that he was neither a signatory to the letter nor his deputy, Angela Rayner, suggesting that they disapproved of Lewis’ intervention (which, ironically, challenged a policy established by the last Labor administration). But he did nothing to express an opinion. Maybe he thinks, like the Covid levels, he could abstain from the matter.
The incident raises questions about Starmer’s leadership, not least because of the influence that the opposition’s backers now have on Interior Ministry policies. It is unusual for them to write these types of letters without the assistance of shadow cabinet ministers. Remarkably, 12 other front benchmarks did not sign. So who is responsible?
The Labor National Executive Committee even appeared to condemn Starmer and Rayner for failing to sign the letter, writing, “We are alarmed that the two of you have not commented on the December 2 deportation flight, with determined and compassionate intervention . “
In his speech at the Labor Party Conference, Starmer promised, “This is a party under new leadership.” He was keen to create the impression that he was bringing the various Labor factions together, although recent events are further evidence of how difficult that goal is, given that Corbyn and McDonnell are in charge elsewhere.
The bigger question, of course, is what this means for Starmer’s future policy. Many will remember that he promised at his party’s conference that “Labor will never again go into an election without trust in national security”. But his refusal to comment, let alone act, on a matter involving murderers, rapists and violent criminals will hardly reassure many voters.
Part of the reason Starmer has been silent on some issues is because of the advice from Joe Biden’s campaign team who directed him not to delve into “culture war issues.” However, this way of thinking seems to have gradually spread to all types of political policy. Often people think that Starmer is calculated in his political steps, but no prime minister does too much sitting.