Keir Starmer regrets choice of words over Black Lives Matter movement

Keir Starmer on LBC Radio. Photograph: LBC/Global.

Keir Starmer on LBC Radio. Photograph: LBC/Global. - Credit: Archant

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed regret at his choice of words when he described the Black Lives Matter protests as a 'moment'.

Appearing on LBC Radio, the leader of the opposition was confronted by a listener who said she was 'extremely disappointed' to hear the party leader refer to the campaign as 'a moment' last month.

Starmer had been criticised by some MPs in his own party for the comments on BBC Breakfast, with campaigner Jermaine Jackman claiming it showed the leader 'never really cared about us or our voice'.

But the Labour leader explained: 'What I was saying is [last week] that Black Lives Matter needs to be a moment, and I meant a defining moment and turning point, I didn't mean a fleeting moment.

'And the reason I said that is because I've spoken to lots of black community leaders in the last few weeks and they have said to me over and over again 'for heaven's sake, this has got to be a turning point' its got to be the point at which people actually realise things have got to change.

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'So I was saying let's not get bogged down in some of the organisational issue, let's treat it for what it is, which is a turning point, a defining moment'.

He admitted that if he had used the word 'defining' at the time it would have been less controversial.

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Starmer previously told reporters: 'If people have thought [I] meant something else, then of course I regret that.

'This is not a moment for not standing with the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustice that is being exposed.'

He said, however, he did not regret taking the knee in solidarity with campaigners, and said he and his staff will undergo an unconscious bias training course as soon as possible.

Speaking to LBC, he explained: 'In the Labour Party we are introducing [training] for all of our staff and I am going to lead from the top on this and do that training first.

'We took a decision to introduce it across the Labour Party and I think that's the right thing to do and I think I should lead by example by doing it first.'

He added: 'I think everybody should have unconscious bias training, I think it is important,' he added.

'There is always the risk of unconscious bias and just saying 'oh well it only applies to other people and not me' is not the right thing to do, so I am going to lead from the front on this and do the training.'

His response was applauded by radio caller Sharon.

She said: 'That was really what I was looking for, I am really pleased about that, I think it's very important and he's right, everyone should look into that.'

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