Analysis comment

Starmer wasn’t first Labour leader to march with Pride, despite his supporters’ claims

Labour’s misleading claim, based on ambiguous tweet from right-dominated group, exposed by simple Twitter search

Labour’s desperate attempts to burnish the image of drab party leader Keir Starmer continued at the weekend with a tweet from the right-run LGBT+ Labour account that Starmer had been the first Labour leader to march with Pride:

This supposed ‘historic first’ was of course jumped on and amplified by all the Starmer hangers-on as if it meant Starmer was the first to march with Pride marchers. Starmer may have been the first to have marched alongside the specific LGBT+ Labour group – a tiny part of the whole Pride march and movement and such a right-dominated group would hardly have welcomed Corbyn – although Ed Miliband marched with them in Manchester in 2010 a month before becoming Labour leader:

Image Pete Birkinshaw via Flickr, creative commons

But the idea – which the very specific and trickily-worded LGBT+ Labour claim quicky morphed into – that Starmer was the first to walk with the Pride march is entirely untrue. Jeremy Corbyn first marched with the Pride march in the early 1970s and continued to do so as Labour leader.

And on one of these occasions Corbyn was infamously heckled by LGBT+ Labour right-wingers who cynically ambushed him there in 2016 as part of the right’s ‘chicken coup’ attempt to blame him for the EU referendum result:

And when it comes to LGBT+ rights, Starmer’s real history is a far more problematic one – only last year he was rightly lambasted for speaking at a church that performed ‘exorcism’ sessions to try to drive gayness out of people. Starmer eventually apologised, claiming it had been a ‘mistake’:

So Starmer was the first to march with the right-wing group that goes by the name LGBT+ Labour, but his real record is appalling and, as many have commented in response to that group’s tweet, his authoritarian and anti-human rights conduct as Labour leader make it unlikely he’d be a genuine ally of gay people and their human rights. Just ask the Black Lives Matter movement.

As so often, the right’s only options for trying to ‘polish a Starmer’ involve misleading and ambiguously-worded claims that its hangers-on and media allies can spin up into something they’re not.

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