David Lammy calls Boris Johnson's tweets about Churchill 'a deflection'

George Martin
·3-min read

David Lammy has criticised Boris Johnson over the number of tweets he wrote about the statue of Winston Churchill, calling the prime minister’s social media posts “a deflection”.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the shadow justice secretary said the prime minister had failed to treat other issues with the same seriousness.

Lammy noted that Johnson had sent out a series of tweets on the subject of statues on Friday after Churchill’s memorial was daubed with the words “was a racist” earlier this week.

"Boris Johnson sent out eight tweets, I think it was, on Friday on Winston Churchill and statues,” Lammy said.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is cleaned in Parliament Square, central London on June 8, 2020, after being defaced, with the words (Churchill) "was a racist" written on it's base by protesters at a demonstration on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. - Most marches at the weekend were peaceful but there were flashes of violence, including in London, where the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was defaced. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill is cleaned in Parliament Square earlier this week. (Getty)

"He's never tweeted eight times in a day on coronavirus, he's never tweeted eight times in a day on the Windrush review or what he's going to do about it, or on the review that David Cameron asked me to do on disproportionality in the criminal justice system and what he's going to do about it.

"This feels to me like a bit of a deflection. Let's get to the action, let's have some substance, let's do something about these historic injustices that still exist in our country."

Lammy also called on the government to "deal with the substance" around racism and not focus on individual ministers' experiences of racism.

Ed Balls and his wife Yvette Cooper arrive with David Lammy (centre), arrive for the funeral of Frank Dobson at St Pancras Church in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lammy (centre) criticised Johnson over the series of tweets. (Getty)

"We still only have in this country 1% of police officers that are black, 1% of judges that are black, 51% of (those in) our young offender institutions are from black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds, languishing in those young offenders' prisons.

"Those are the serious issues that people want the government to deal with. Not statues, not Priti Patel, deal with the problems."

LONDON, June 10, 2020 -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons, in London, Britain on June 10, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Wednesday that zoos and outdoor attractions in England will be allowed to reopen from Monday, but still social distancing rules must be followed. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Tim Ireland via Getty Images)
The prime minister tweeted in defence of Churchill on Friday. (Getty)

The prime minister tweeted on Friday that although Churchill held opinions that were "unacceptable to us today" he had still saved Britain from "fascist and racist tyranny".

His defence of the wartime prime minister came after Churchill’s statue was daubed with the words "was a racist" last weekend by protesters attending a Black Lives Matter march.

The statue in London's Parliament Square was then sealed in a protective box ahead of further protests this weekend.

In his twitter thread, Johnson said monuments like Churchill's were put up by previous generations as he urged people to "stay away" from demonstrations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We cannot try to edit or censor our past," he wrote of moves to remove tributes to historical figures.

"We cannot pretend to have a different history."

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