Starmer issues defence of NATO and criticises “naive” Stop the War Coalition

Elliot Chappell
© Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com
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Keir Starmer has issued a strong defence of NATO – and an attack on the Stop the War Coalition. The Labour leader explained in The Guardian that he regards “both the Ns” – NATO and the NHS – as legacies of the transformational 1945 Labour government. He said groups such as the one once chaired by Jeremy Corbyn “are not benign voices for peace”, adding: “At best they are naive; at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies. There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity.” Deputy Stop the War Coalition president Andrew Murray said Starmer “ignores NATO’s actual role over the past 25 years” and added that he “would do better to back the French and German governments in seeking a diplomatic solution”. Starmer’s intervention is perhaps the clearest distinction he has drawn between himself and his predecessor Corbyn, who currently sits as a deputy president alongside Murray.

Cressida Dick has resigned. Just hours after telling a radio phone-in that she would stay in post and had a plan to rid the Met of its toxic culture, Dick decided to quit after being told her plan was inadequate by Sadiq Khan. What took so long, you might wonder. The Metropolitan Police Service commissioner has been under pressure for months following successive scandals. Dick had to apologise in December after two officers were jailed for taking and sharing pictures of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, found stabbed to death in June 2020. And, just this month, the police watchdog published a report earlier on Charing Cross police station showing evidence of “discrimination, misogyny, harassment and bullying” – officers were found to have made repeated jokes about rape, domestic violence, violent racism as well as using homophobic language and derogatory terms for disabled people.

Perhaps most memorably, Dick came under fire for her response to the murder of Sarah Everard. She was rightly criticised after the Met suggested that women worried about an officer approaching them –  in the wake of Everard’s murder by a serving officer – should flag down a bus. Dick was widely condemned for the handling of a vigil for Everard, which saw officers kneeling on the backs of women and attendees threatened with prosecutions and fines for breaching Covid rules. In stark contrast, her police service has been strongly criticised for reluctance to investigate rule-breaking in Whitehall – after having handed out thousands of fines to ordinary Londoners throughout the pandemic. Now that the police force is investigating the No 10 parties, however, we face the curious position of a government being investigated by a police service while at the same time picking its commissioner.

Journalist Henry Dyer revealed last night that he has submitted a formal complaint against Neil Coyle. Dyer said he had been drinking in a parliamentary bar when Coyle approached and that, when Dyer mentioned that he was British-Chinese, the Labour MP told him that “from how you look like you’ve been giving renminbi [Chinese currency] to Barry Gardiner” – a reference to Gardiner’s links to an alleged Chinese government agent. Dyer’s statement on his interaction with Coyle and why he submitted the complaint can be read here. A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of behaviour from all our MPs and we take any allegations of this sort very seriously.” The party has not confirmed whether the whip will be suspended.

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