Keir Starmer calls for Roger Waters' UK gigs to be axed amid 'antisemitism' row

The Labour Party leader said Waters has 'clearly espoused antisemitic views' that are 'highly disturbing'


Sir Keir Starmer has accused Roger Waters of “spreading antisemitism” and said the musician should not be allowed to perform his remaining British shows as the UK leg of his tour draws to a close.

The leader of the opposition made the remarks in a letter to the Board of Deputies in which he said that that Waters had “clearly espoused antisemitic views” that are “highly disturbing”.

Conservative Michael Gove also expressed discomfort with Waters performances in a separate letter to Jewish leaders, claiming the Pink Floyd singer was “falling short” of a responsibility not to abuse his public platform.

The Board of Deputies wrote to both politicians to raise communal concerns over Waters’ history of incendiary statements.

Sir Keir wrote: “The Labour Party stands with the Jewish community and fully condemns Roger Waters.

“Many people will think of Roger Waters as famous for being a member of one of the most important bands in history, but he is now more synonymous with spreading deeply troubling antisemitism and that is why I believe this show should not be allowed to go ahead. 

“Views like this should not be given a platform.”

Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, said: “The Government is clear that everyone has a clear and fundamental right to freedom of speech and artistic expression, so long as they remain within the boundaries set by law. 

“There is also a societal expectation placed on people with a significant public profile to behave responsibly and not abuse their platform. 

“This is an expectation of which Roger Waters is reportedly falling short.”

At a performance at London’s O2 arena on Tuesday night, Waters used an offensive term to Labour MP Christian Wakeford – who publicly opposed the performer’s previous show in Manchester – suggesting he was doing the bidding of his “masters” in Israel.

“You [Wakeford] were making s**t up because you were told to by your masters in the Foreign Office in Tel Aviv because of this hate. 

“This hate is being organised from Israel. And I’m not afraid to say it because I know Christian Wakeford, that what I’m saying is not a lie.”

Addressing a sold-out crowd, he added: “[Waters] said, oh and used the Star of David on a giant pig…Guess what, Christian? I didn’t. 

“Do your research, cripple!”

At a 2013 gig, Waters flew a large pig balloon emblazoned with the Star of David, but he has not used this imagery on his current tour.

In London, a floating pig with no Jewish iconography appeared above the crowd.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said of Waters’ comments: “Yet again, we see the grotesque mockery of Anne Frank and trivialisation of the Holocaust together with an age-old antisemitic slur that suggests that Jews are pulling the puppet strings of people in power.”

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, said the organisation was “extremely grateful” Gove and Sir Keir had “expressed their concern” about Waters and his performances. 

“I would also like to thank all regional and local politicians who have spoken out against this tour and stood with the wider Jewish community,” she added.

Representatives for Waters did not respond to requests for comment.

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