Labour’s leader Keir Starmer became an indirect victim of offence archaeology as he was pressured into apologising for a visit to the anti-LGBT church Jesus House. He also deleted the offending video, lest anybody see it again.
“I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit,” he tweeted. “I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.”
The apology follows backlash on social media and lobbying by LGBT+ Labour, which has called the visit “unacceptable”. The group had contacted Starmer’s office after being alerted to the church’s previous opposition to gay marriage and links to conversion therapy.
Earlier on Monday, Shadow minister Rachel Reeves had defended the visit to the church’s vaccine centre, saying “that doesn’t mean we endorse all the views that people who worship there would potentially endorse”. According to LGBT+ Labour, this was after the opposition leader’s office had privately said the visit would not have happened if the church’s views had been known beforehand.
The apology seemingly concedes that a Labour leader should be held to account for all the views of the people he meets. This proved a sore spot for Starmer’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, whose friendships with various wrong’uns were used as evidence of his own foreign policy views.
As a former public prosecutor, Starmer should know that people cannot be guilty by association. And if woke activists can veto every conversation with someone whose politics they don’t like, rebuilding the red wall will be tricky.