Keir Starmer has sparked outrage online after appearing to laugh while discussing strikes in Coventry.
In an interview with the BBC about a dispute between refuse workers and Coventry City Council, Starmer triggered a backlash after he appeared to snigger when making a point about whether the issue would impact relations with the Labour Party and trade unions more broadly.
Refuse collection drivers, represented by trade union Unite, have been on an all-out strike since 31ST January, claiming the Labour council is not paying them enough.
This is what Starmer had to say about the issue: "In relation to the strike, it's obviously industrial action. What I want to see is what pretty much everyone wants to see which is an end to the dispute. That's only going to happen if both sides are talking. They are talking at the moment and I hope that resolves the issue because that's the best thing in relation to this industrial dispute and most industrial disputes.
"On the funding, I don't think an industrial dispute in Coventry should influence relations between the Labour Party and its trade unions, its affiliated trade unions, so it's very important I make that clear as well."
When saying "Coventry" he appeared to laugh and the clip circulated on social media with many left-wing figures condemning the leader of the opposition and claiming he was showing "disdain" for the city:
The snigger when he says \u201cCoventry\u201d https://twitter.com/bbccwr/status/1493970587508695042\u00a0\u2026
— Owen Jones \ud83c\udf39 (@Owen Jones \ud83c\udf39)
Why say 'Coventry' in that exasperated way, as if it's too trivial to be worth discussing? What's wrong with Coventry? What's wrong with Starmer?https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/1493990724622340098\u00a0\u2026
The way Starmer says \u2018Coventry\u2019 with such utter disdain and contempt is how too much of Westminster views country outside London. But here it is really candid and obvious.pic.twitter.com/im0e00453u
On the issue more broadly, last week, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham threatened to cut funding to the Labour Party over the strikes. In a message to strikers, she said: "Let me be very clear - the remaining financial support of the Labour Party is now under review.
"Your behaviour and mistreatment of our members will not be accepted. It's time to act like Labour, be the party for workers."
But an undeterred Starmer told the BBC : "The Labour Party I lead is not going to be influenced by threats from anybody, whoever they are. And that's just an absolute matter of principle for me.
"So this is very, very straightforward. It's not about the you know, the particulars of a dispute here or dispute there. I am not prepared for the Labour Party I lead to be threatened by anyone. Period, full stop."
indy100 has approached Starmer and the Labour Party to comment on this story.
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