Wikipedia war over Keir Starmer's 'millions'

Written by Total Politics on 19 December 2019 in Diary

A vicious cyber battle has broken out over Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer's 'millionaire' status after a series of back-and-forth edits were made to his Wikipedia page.

A former senior human rights barrister, Sir Keir has strongly suggested he is planning on making a run at the leadership of the Labour party after the party took a hammering in the general election.

But the senior MP has already faced questions over whether a wealthy London-dweller is the right person to change the party's future after they haemorrhaged support among voters in the North of England.

And the row spilled over to Wikipedia after an anonymous edit was made to his entry on Tuesday, changing the opening paragraph to: "Sir Keir Starmer (born 2 September 1962) is a millionaire and a senior British politician and barrister".

According to the website's log, the edit came from a computer in Cricklewood, North London. But the post triggered a flurry of edits as other users sought to remove the claim.

One user who removed the sentence, said the claim was "not sourced and something the man in question denies".

"If re-included needs to be sourced and show his rebuttal."

Another called for an end to the edits, saying: "This 'millionaire' edit war has to stop. If you want to add it please open

Meanwhile another was forced to remove a favourable paragraph about his chances as leader, saying: "One opinion piece is not a satisfactory reference for calling Starmer a 'popular member' and one poll is not sufficient to show he is a favourite to succeed Corbyn.

"Too much puffery has been injected into this article."

The number of edits got so bad that Wikipedia was forced to lock the page to avoid further "vandalism".

Sir Keir's team have strongly denied their involvement in the row. But it comes as he seeks to convince his party he has the necessary credentials to be seen as a leader who can reunite their fractured support base.

And speaking to BBC Radio 4, the Labour heavyweight said claims he was too middle-class to lead were "not borne out" by his background.

"As for the sort of middle-class thrust, as you know, my dad worked in a factory, he was a toolmaker, and my mum was a nurse, and she contracted a very rare disease early in her life that meant she was constantly in need of NHS care.

"So, actually, my background isn't what people think it is. I know what it's like. I actually never had been in any workplace other than a factory until I left home for university. I'd never been in an office."

He added: "So the idea that somehow I personally don't know what it's like for people across the country in all sorts of different circumstances is just not borne out."

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