Saatchi claims Starmer will say ‘anything’ to be PM after Sunak poster

Emily Thornberry defends Labour attack ad

Marketing guru Maurice Saatchi has hit out at Labour’s controversial posters attacking the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The campaigning godfather, responsible for the famous ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ slogan above a winding dole queue, wrote in MailOnline that the “distasteful” attack ads “may damage” Keir Starmer’s chances of getting into office.

The series of messages have come in for widespread criticism, including from Labour MPs themselves, with particular outrage at one poster in which it is claimed Mr Sunak does not want child sexual abusers to be sent to prison.

The poster in question read: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.

“Under the Tories, 4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under-16 served no prison time. Labour will lock up dangerous child abusers.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted in response to that particular poster: “This is not the sort of politics a Labour Party, confident of its own values and preparing to govern, should be engaged in.

“I say to the people who have taken the decision to publish this ad, please withdraw it. We, the Labour Party, are better than this.”

76-year-old Mr Saatchi, who was chairman of the Conservative Party between 2003 and 2005, said he didn’t find the political adverts morally objectionable, however he argued that they failed to land their message.

He wrote: “Dishonest attacks convince nobody. Slander and insult are not the weapons of a real heavyweight. They just confirm the suspicion of voters that politicians will say anything to gain power.”

Earlier in the piece he wrote that he “wouldn’t be proud of the current Labour ads that have generated so much controversy.

“They fail because you remember nothing about them except the nasty taste they leave in the mouth.”

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry stood by the posters, telling BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions: “I heard a lot of people criticising it, and a lot of people who I like and respect criticising it and saying they felt very uncomfortable about it. Some people said that they thought it was racist.

“I have to say, I think they’re wrong. I just disagree with that. I think the truth is we do need to have a debate in this country, and Rishi Sunak is the prime minister and he is responsible for a broken justice system.”

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