Keir Starmer accused of 'spectacular own goal' after latest ad

Keir Starmer accused of 'spectacular own goal' after latest ad

April 16, 2023

Keir Starmer is accused of a ‘spectacular own goal’ after his latest attack ad highlights a 15 per cent council tax increase caused by a Labour authority going bust

  • The latest Labour ad said Tories were ‘raising council tax by up to 15 per cent’ 
  • But Croydon is the only authority raising tax by this level after Labour regime 
  • Council went bankrupt in 2020 following speculation on commercial property 

Sir Keir Starmer was accused of a ‘spectacular own goal’ last night after his latest attack ad highlighted a 15 per cent council tax hike caused by a Labour authority going bust.

In an extraordinary online ad, Labour said the Conservatives were ‘raising council tax by up to 15 per cent’, adding: ‘Do you think your council tax should be 15 per cent higher? Rishi Sunak does.’

Yet the only authority in the country raising council tax by this level is Croydon, south London, which was given special permission to help rebuild its finances following disastrous management by a previous Labour regime which left the borough bankrupt.

Home Office minister Chris Philp described the ad as ‘another spectacular own goal which serves to highlight something that is in fact Labour’s own fault’.

Labour-run Croydon effectively went bankrupt in 2020 following reckless speculation on commercial property fuelled by £545million in borrowing. Investments included £30million on a hotel which went into administration and £53million on a struggling shopping centre.

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) was accused of a ‘spectacular own goal’ last night

In an extraordinary online ad, Labour said the Conservatives were ‘raising council tax by up to 15 per cent’, adding: ‘Do you think your council tax should be 15 per cent higher? Rishi Sunak does.’

READ MORE: Keir Starmer targets Rishi Sunak’s wife as he steps up dirty war against multi-millionaire PM with dig at Akshata Murty’s non-dom ‘tax loophole’

The Tories hit back, accusing Labour of ‘the height of hypocrisy’ amid questions over Sir Keir’s pension from his time as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The council has been run by a minority Conservative administration since May last year. It was forced to declare itself bankrupt again in November, citing a ‘toxic debt burden’ that is eating up a sixth of the authority’s annual budget in interest payments.

Mr Philp, MP for Croydon South, said: ‘I am astonished Labour is choosing to highlight the fact a council they ran until May 2022 went spectacularly bust on their watch necessitating this tax increase.

‘Labour spectacularly bankrupted Croydon during their eight years running the Borough.’ Council tax rises have been effectively capped at five per cent for most authorities this year. Under the last Labour government, council tax bills more than doubled. The row came as senior Labour figures defended the party’s aggressive attack ads.

Labour has been mired in controversy since launching a negative series of adverts, including one which claimed the Prime Minister does not think paedophiles should be jailed. Polling yesterday suggested the ads were damaging Labour’s reputation.

An Opinium poll for The Observer found the advert about Mr Sunak made 12 per cent of voters feel less favourable about the Labour Party.

A Tory attack ad about Sir Keir’s voting record on crime dented confidence in Labour among 9 per cent of voters. A shadow cabinet source told the paper that the negative approach had triggered a backlash among Labour activists and supporters.

The source said: ‘Our people didn’t like it. They thought it crossed the line.’

Another Labour source said: ‘There remain questions about whether we lose more than we gain by coming off the moral high ground.’

The only authority in the country raising council tax by this level is Croydon, south London, which was given special permission to help rebuild its finances following disastrous management by a previous Labour regime which left the borough bankrupt

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper – who was not consulted on the attacks on the Tory crime record – is among those said to be unhappy about them.

But Angela Rayner yesterday insisted the party would continue with its negative tactics. Labour’s deputy leader claimed that the ads were ‘factual’, telling the Sunday Mirror: ‘We’re going to keep highlighting to the electorate what they’ve done, how they’ve damaged the country and how we’d repair it.’

And shadow health spokesman Wes Streeting told GB News that Sir Keir was right to be ‘absolutely robust’ in attacking the Prime Minister’s ‘record of failure’.

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