Starmer’s PMQs intervention surely has one eye on Batley and Spen’s one-in-five Muslim population – but what he actually said is not what he likely hopes they’ll think they heard
Remarkably, during today’s PMQs, Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson to recognise Palestinian statehood. Or more accurately, he almost did.
Starmer didn’t tell Johnson for the UK to take the lead for other G7 nations by unilaterally recognising Palestine. He told him to ask other nations to come to an international agreement on recognising Palestine – akin to calling for international agreement banning nuclear weapons or carbon. In other words, something in the long grass that is desirable but unlikely ever to happen.
It seems that Mr Starmer is worried about the roughly one in five voters in Batley and Spen who are Muslims – particularly with the entry of George Galloway into the contest, who is said to still have some popularity among locals after his tenure as MP for nearby Bradford West, but can’t quite bring himself to tell Johnson that the UK should recognise Palestine and be done with it, setting an example for other nations to follow:
Starmer reacted to news of the Batley and Spen by-election by binning the party’s rules requiring 12 months’ membership, so that murdered MP Jo Cox’s sister could represent the party, in what many considered a cynical and cowardly move to shore up Labour’s slim chances – and his call on Palestine, sadly, looks similarly spineless.
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