Labour Party leader Keir Starmer
The Conservative Party has faced ridicule after likening Keir Starmer to Bob Odenkirk’s character in the hit US TV show Better Call Saul.
Highlighting the Labour leader’s time as a criminal defence barrister is gearing up to be one of the Tory election attack lines in the run-up to this year’s vote.
At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak raised Starmer’s decision to advise the soon-to-be-banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir during his legal career.
Labour has said Starmer had been asked to give advice to Hizb ut-Tahri in a legal dispute between the group and the German government.
He did not formally represent them, moving on to become director of public prosecutions shortly after, they said.
But the Conservative party later doubled down on the messaging, putting out a message on social media that brought Saul Goodman – the notorious fictional criminal lawyer played by Odenkirk – into play.
It read: “Are you a terrorist in need of legal advice? Better call Keir.”
The post from the Tories on X, formerly Twitter, also said: “When Rishi Sunak sees a group chanting jihad on our streets, he bans them. Keir Starmer invoices them.”
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) January 17, 2024
But the attempt to undermine Starmer was soon disparaged – with many pointing out that lawyers may not withhold their services based on a client’s conduct, opinions or beliefs, and that somehow the Tories have even managed to boost Starmer’s image.
And a community note attached to the post added that Starmer “went on to prosecute terrorists with links to Hizb ut-Tahrir as director of public prosecutions”, and continued: “There’s is no evidence he invoiced them. Barristers may not withhold services based on a client’s conduct.”
Lawyers are not their clients.
Your failure to understand such a basic fundament of the rule of law makes it clear that you are not a serious political party, and should be nowhere near the levers of government. pic.twitter.com/XoJHvxu8S6
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) January 17, 2024
— Dan Waterfield (@danwaterfield) January 17, 2024
Looking forward to this being the Tory’s attack line for a full 3 days until it doesn’t shift the dial one iota and they change to something completely different and pretend they never mentioned it https://t.co/loWRPtn0JF
— Godspeed You Black Tamperer (ft Maya) (@twlldun) January 17, 2024
once again a Tory attack line is hamstrung by accurate community notes
question is whether these efforts can thrive on other social media platforms which may not have such correctives https://t.co/2pngFgbz8r
— Jim Pickard 🐋 (@PickardJE) January 17, 2024
I guess the basic competency level in his ‘inner circle’, drawn from right-wing hate sheets, PR propagandists & secretly-funded think tanks, is now so low that anything goes. Not so much an echo chamber as a talent vacuum where nobody has the wit to call out any obvious idiocy. https://t.co/lgBbcl4wSb
— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) January 17, 2024
Imagine sending a terrorist an invoice, sorry for some reason this has really sent me https://t.co/RHm5PM0mjV
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) January 17, 2024
This is desperate stuff. Utterly demeaning of the Tories.
I have grave doubts about Labour's approach to extremist Islam but this is cheap and nasty and doesn't even attack the real issue with Lab - the views of too many of its MPs and members https://t.co/ZTss2xokEj
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) January 17, 2024