Rayner 'unapologetic' over Labour attack-ads

Angela Rayner has said she is “unapologetic” over Labour’s attack-ad against the Prime Minister which said he doesn’t want to send paedophiles to prison, despite a week of criticism over the tone of campaigning.

In an interview with The Yorkshire Post in Huddersfield, the party’s deputy leader said that she has been known as “not holding her punches” in opposition and that it is Labour’s job to “hold the Government to account”.

Ms Rayner visited the West Yorkshire town yesterday to speak to small business owners and local politicians as part of Labour’s vision for high streets ahead of the local elections.

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It comes after Labour produced an advert on social media which said: “Do you think that adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t”, in blaming the Prime Minister for the current lack of prison-time for offenders.

Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, during a visit to Huddersfield on WednesdayLabour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, during a visit to Huddersfield on Wednesday
Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, during a visit to Huddersfield on Wednesday

Asked whether she agrees that Labour needs to be aggressive in its messaging, such as the adverts levelled at her party in previous elections, Ms Rayner said: “You’re speaking to someone who has had their fair share of not only being known as not holding my punches but also accused of distracting the Prime Minister with my legs, by some media outlets.

“It’s fair to say that we won’t face challenges at the next election but I also believe that we should also be holding the Government to account for their record. 13 years? I’m sorry, but we should be holding them to account.”

“I’m often told: “Angie, you’re not saying anything positive”. I do. I am a product of what the last Labour government did. I’m one of those kids on the council estate who was given the opportunity.

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“But I’ve also seen a future stolen away from the next generation. You can’t have a good pension, you can’t have secure work, you can’t have your own home, you can’t go on holiday.

“And we will hold [the Conservatives] to account for it, and I think it’s absolutely right that we do.

“I’m unapologetic about that because why should we not do that? That is our job as the opposition, and I think that it’s right that people see that.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said in response to the attack-ad: “This is yet another example of Keir Starmer playing politics and offering absolutely nothing.

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“He helped write the guidelines for sentencing child sex offenders and is now blaming others for his failures”.

Asked about the claim during a visit to Northern Ireland, Rishi Sunak told broadcasters: “I think that’s what the British people want to see from their politicians: less talk, more action, making a difference on the things that matter.”

It is understood that Labour are heavily targeting 14 Tory-held areas where they feel they can turn the seat red at the next election, just over half of the number who voted Conservative in 2019.

The party has already selected candidates for battleground seats such as Keighley, Colne Valley and York Outer which are currently held by Tory MPs.

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The party’s messaging is widely reflecting what its internal reports suggest is working well on the doorstep, with sources telling The Yorkshire Post that crime and the cost of living are resonating the most with the public, as well the state of public services such as the NHS and transport.

A Labour source said: "We're not taking for granted the work we've got to do across Yorkshire and the Humber, and we have to put our focus on winning back our core vote that moved away from us.

"There is a feeling across the region that those who put their trust in the Tories at the ballot box have been utterly let down. All the Conservatives have managed to deliver is empty promises and meaningless slogans, a crashed economy and failing public services.”