Notice of Adjudication for an article first published on THE SKWAWKBOX, 13 September 2020 under the headline “Keir Starmer’s record so far in a nutshell makes the bleakest reading”. An IMPRESS ruling has determined that this article fails to distinguish clearly between matters of fact, conjecture, and opinion and that it contains several assertions of fact that are inaccurate. Click here to read the full adjudication by IMPRESS.
The SKWAWKBOX believes in independent press regulation and by definition will not agree with every adjudication. However, while ‘straw man’ attacks from political opponents are inevitable, they should not be a feature of regulation.
The complainant considered three aspects of the article inaccurate and IMPRESS entertained the complaint even though the article was clearly and prominently marked as a comment piece. That fact notwithstanding, the SKWAWKBOX provided evidence to support every point with which the complainant took issue. IMPRESS decided:
– that examples of Keir Starmer promoting MPs with a track record of racism and/or bullying did not justify the article’s point that he has promoted racists and bullies
– that examples of Starmer opposing wealth taxes did not justify the statement that he had opposed wealth taxes
– that examples of Starmer opposing the Black Lives Matter protests did not justify saying that he had opposed the BLM protests – even though a specific example was linked in the original statement that Starmer refusing to allow an NEC discussion of Rachel Reeves’s support for a statue in memory of a notorious antisemite because Reeves was not present did not constitute defending or supporting her, even though he had just held a lengthy discussion about Rebecca Long-Bailey in her absence
The committee reached this conclusion based largely on the premise that Starmer doing these things did not represent his ‘general position’. That would be relevant if the article claimed it was his general position. But the article was explicitly a look at his record to date and a call for him to change. The SKWAWKBOX considers the ‘general position’ assumption to be a classic ‘straw man’.
It should also be noted that even the complainant could not take issue with the remaining fifteen points highlighted in the article about Keir Starmer’s bleak record as Labour leader.
For an accurate assessment of Starmer’s position on the Black Lives Matter movement, the SKWAWKBOX recommends this video by Canary editor Kerry-Ann Mendoza, in which she concludes that ‘Black Lives don’t Matter to Keir Starmer’: