'It's a skit!': Senior Labour MP defends advert claiming Rishi Sunak does not believe child sex abusers should be jailed

7 April 2023, 08:36 | Updated: 7 April 2023, 13:41

Labour has accused Rishi Sunak of thinking child sex abusers shouldn't go to prison
Labour has accused Rishi Sunak of thinking child sex abusers shouldn't go to prison. Picture: Labour/LBC/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Labour Party has defended an advert which claims Rishi Sunak doesn't think child sex abusers should go to prison, with one senior MP saying it was just a "skit".

The widely-condemned message said: "Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn't."

Labour has been accused of a "vile and desperate" campaign strategy by Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson and "cheapened and debased" politics by SNP MP John Nicolson.

Speaking to LBC's Andrew Castle on Friday, Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said: "Clearly, it's not to everybody's taste. There's no question about that, some people don't like it."

Andrew Castle questions Labour MP on a recent graphic posted on Twitter about Rishi Sunak

She continued: "But in these sort of political campaigns, we've all been on the receiving end of things like this...the Conservative Party puts out many things like that as well.

"It's highlighting what I think is a very serious issue that needs dealing with that I think the average Labour voter is really worried about."

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Labour backbencher and former shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged the party to take down the advert, saying: "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."

A Tory source said: "Labour HQ have highlighted Sir Keir's appalling record at keeping children safe.

"During Sir Keir's controversial tenure as director of public prosecutions, less than 30% of child pornographers saw the inside of a prison cell.

"It's no wonder only 12% of his staff thought he was any good and criminals want a Labour government."

Starmer is facing growing calls to row back on the tweet
Starmer is facing growing calls to row back on the tweet. Picture: Getty

Labour has so far stood by the advert, which remains on the party's social media channels.

A spokesperson 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."