“It wasn’t even worthy of a single mention in his so-called landmark speech on education this summer”.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on 6 September, Rishi Sunak suggested that Keir Starmer hadn’t mentioned the issue of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in school buildings during a speech on education this summer. In an exchange on recent developments around the safety of school buildings, the Prime Minister said that “this issue … wasn’t even worthy of a single mention” in Mr Starmer’s speech on education this summer.
Mr Starmer gave a speech on education on 6 July. He didn’t mention RAAC specifically in this speech, but he did mention the issue of school building safety. Mr Starmer said the Conservative government were “twiddling their thumbs… as school buildings start to crumble”.
Labour politicians have recently used the phrase “crumbling” to refer to schools with RAAC. During PMQs, several journalists posted on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) about Mr Sunak’s claim, and pointed out that Mr Starmer had referred to school buildings in his speech.
Immediately after PMQs, shadow leader of the House of Commons Lucy Powell said Mr Sunak’s comment was “categorically untrue” and asked if he would like to correct the record. She said Mr Starmer “mentioned it as part of that speech” and that it “was the subject of an opposition day debate in the leader of the opposition’s name in May”.
Number 10 told the Sun’s political editor Harry Cole that “the PM was talking about RAAC and there has been new information recently. Starmers speech did not reference RAAC once”.
When a politician makes a claim in parliament that is unclear or potentially misleading they should ensure they return to parliament and clarify what they meant as soon as possible.
Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew