Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked from Labour front-bench by Keir Starmer for sharing anti-semitic theory
CORBYNISTA shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked from the Labour front-bench for sharing an anti-semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter.
Sir Keir Starmer said she had been asked to step down after sharing an article which claimed the tactic used by US police to kill George Floyd was “taught by the Israeli army”.
Rebecca Long-Bailey shared an anti-semitic conspiracy theory[/caption]
Sir Keir announced this afternoon Ms Long-Bailey had been sacked[/caption]
Rebecca Long-Bailey lost the leadership race to Sir Keir in April[/caption]
Sir Keir said this afternoon: “The sharing of that article was wrong because the article contained anti-semitic conspiracy theories and I have therefore stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down from the shadow cabinet
“I made it my first priority to tackle anti semitism and rebuild trust with the Jewish community.”
A spokesperson for Sir Keir added: “Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
Sir Keir’s decision to sack Ms Long-Bailey has sparked a furoius row between the hard left of the Labour party who rushed to Ms Bailey defence.
Chair of the hard-left group Momentum Jon Lansam labelled the sacking as a “reckless overreaction”.
Ms Peake said in the article: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”
The article, published in The Independent added: “A spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this, stating that ‘there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway’.”
In a virtual press conference with Scottish journalists,The conference was delayed until 3 pm and then the zoom broke.
Sir Keir said that the article contained conspiracy theories but he does not believe that Ms Long-Bailey is antisemitic.
In a question and answer session with Scottish journalists, which was delayed as Ms Long-Bailey was sacked, he twice said that he was “having one of those days” and declined to give any details of the conversation between the pair.
“I asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet for sharing the article,” he said.
“I didn’t do that because she is antisemitic, I did it because she shared the article which has got, in my view, antisemitic conspiracy theories in it.
“My primary focus is on rebuilding trust with the Jewish communities. I didn’t think sharing that article was in keeping with that primary objective.”
When the zoom broke he said: “I am just having one of those days where just about everything is determined to go in the wrong order and mean that things aren’t running as they should.”
Ms Long-Bailey – who came in second place to Sir Keir in a failed bid for the Labour leadership earlier this year – said Ms Peake “is an absolute diamond”.
The sacked front-bench MP for Salford and Eccles was forced to clarify her comments, saying: “I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party.
“It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”
In a decisive win against the growing hard-left faction of the Labour party, Sir Keir won the leadership race on April 4, taking over from Ms Long-Bailey’s ally Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Long-Bailey finished up with only 27.6 per cent of the vote.
The Labour MP had previously said she would have offered her ally and friend Mr Corbyn a spot in her shadow cabinet if she replaced him as leader.
When Sir Keir took over as Labour leader he vowed to stamp out anti-semitism in the party.
Ms Long-Bailey again clarified her tweets after being given the boot by Sir Keir – but did not apologise for the original tweet.
She said: “Today I retweeted an interview that my constituent and stalwart Labour Party supporter Maxine Peake gave to the Independent.
“Its main thrust was anger with the Conservative Government’s handling of the current emergency and a call for Labour Party unity.
“These are sentiments are shared by everyone in our movement and millions of people in our country.
“I learned that many people were concerned by references to international sharing of training and restraint techniques between police and security forces.
“In no way was my retweet an intention to endorse every part of that article.”
Ms Long-Bailey said Sir Keir’s office had asked her to take down the original tweet and her clarification.
But she said “I could not do this in good conscience without the issuing of a press statement of clarification.”
She added she had “asked to discuss” the matter with Sir Keir before “agreeing what further action to take” but that the Labour leader “had already made his decision”.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has thanked Sir Keir for his swift action in removing Ms Long-Bailey.
Marie said: “I would like to thank Keir Starmer for backing his words with actions on antisemitism.
“After Rebecca Long-Bailey shared a conspiracy theory, we and others gave her the opportunity to retract and apologise. To our surprise and dismay, her response was pathetic.
“Her position as Shadow Education Secretary was therefore untenable.
“There can be no space for this sort of action in any party and it is right that after so many challenging years Labour is now making this clear under its new leader.”
But some of Ms Long-Bailey hard-left allies jumped to her defence.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Throughout discussion of antisemitism it’s always been said criticism of practices of Israeli state is not antisemitic.
“I don’t believe therefore that this article is or @RLong_Bailey should’ve been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.”
Momentum boss Mr Lansam, who is Jewish, said: “Sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an interview in the Independent with one of Britain’s most loved actors is a reckless overreaction.
“I don’t believe there is anything antisemitic in the interview and sacking Rebecca is a reckless overreaction by Keir Starmer.”
Mr Lansam added that giving Ms Long-Bailey the boot tore apart the Labour leaders efforts to repair fault lines in the party: “Keir says he wants to party unity, yet sacks her from the front bench for no good reason.
“I stand in absolute solidarity with Rebecca Long-Bailey, as does the rest of Momentum.”
In support of Ms Long-Bailey, Labour MP Jon Trickett tweeted: “What has Sir Keir got against Northern socialists from working class backgrounds?”
Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge tweeted: “This is what a change in culture looks like.
“This is what zero tolerance looks like. This is what rebuilding trust with the Jewish community looks like.”
Co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism
Most read in News
Catherine McKinnell and Andrew Percy said: “We welcome Sir Keir Starmer’s zero-tolerance approach and decisive action.
“Members of Parliament have a duty to challenge antisemitic conspiracy theories not to share them.
“We will work with all political parties to ensure antisemitism plays no part in public life, and our group will always work to educate colleagues about it.”