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Labour launch security review as Starmer admits glitterbomb could have been ‘a lot worse’

Leader jokes about ‘channelling inner Arsenal’ to fend off ‘idiot’ – as Metropolitan Police protection officers blamed for breach

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 11 October 2023 10:29 BST
Keir Starmer won’t let ‘idiot’ Labour conference glitter protestor ruin 'years of work’

Sir Keir Starmer has acknowledged the security breach which saw a protester rush the stage to dump glitter over his head could have been “a lot worse” as Labour launched a review.

The party will probe the failings which led to the activist’s glitterbomb attack, with sources blaming the Metropolitan Police protection which monitors Sir Keir’s movements round the clock.

The Labour leader revealed that he felt determined not to let an “idiot” disrupt his big pitch to the public, but conceded on Sky News: “It could have been a lot worse.”

Sir Keir told Times Radio on Wednesday that “my overwhelming feeling was, ‘I am not going to let you ruin four years of hard work in this party’.”

“I just wanted to get on with the speech and that’s why I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it,” he added. “I didn’t want that idiot to interrupt that and I don’t want that idiot to dominate what I’ve got to say today."

He also joked on LBC: “It did feel a bit like a five-a-side moment where someone is trying to get the ball off me. Channelling the inner Arsenal obviously.”

Sir Keir also said he immediately checked his wife, Victoria, who was in the front row of the conference hall, was all right before continuing, with remnants of glitter in his hair and on the shoulders of his shirt.

Labour shadow justice minister Shabana Mahmood has said she expects “questions are being asked” surrounding security. “We will want to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen again,” she told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

One Labour source told The Times they were “really angry” about the incident. “If he had a weapon, Keir could’ve been killed.” And a senior Labour source told the newspaper that theu blamed the Metropolitan Police.

A protester throws glitter over Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

It is believed that the Scotland Yard officers afforded to the leader of the opposition were in the all along with the security staff provided by the ACC Liverpool venue.

The Met said that it did not comment on security given to Sir Keir. A spokesperson for the ACC said that their “highly trained stewarding and security team ensured the incident was dealt with appropriately”.

Meanwhile, Labour is selling limited edition “Sparkle with Starmer” T-shirts after a protester stormed the stage during the party leader’s conference speech and doused him in glitter.

A description of the £20 tops, which have already sold out, urged Keir Starmer fans to “unleash your inner shimmer with our brand new, exclusive” T-shirts.

The protester, identified as Yaz Ashmawi, was wearing a T-shirt linking him to a pro-proportional representation group called People Demand Democracy shouted that “true democracy is citizen-led”.

The 28-year-old from Surrey was arrested on suspicion of assault, breach of the peace and causing publice nuisance, Merseyside Police said.

Sir Keir, who has put great emphasis on shifting the party since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, said “protest or power, this is why we changed our party” before getting on with his speech.

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