Labour’s Long-Bailey sacked in anti-Semitism row

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article containing an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”.

Mrs Long-Bailey retweeted an interview with actor and Labour supporter Maxine Peake.

The shadow education secretary – who was beaten to the party leadership by Sir Keir – later said she had not meant to endorse all aspects of the article.

But Sir Keir said his “first priority” was tackling anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader said: “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’ve made it my first priority to tackle anti-Semitism and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority for me.”

‘Decisive leadership’

A spokesman for the Labour leader added: “Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

In the article, Ms Peake discussed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

She said: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

The Jewish Labour Movement – which has led calls for a crackdown on anti-Semitism in Labour’s ranks – welcomed Sir Keir’s decision to sack Mrs Long-Bailey.

National chairman Mike Katz said: “We have consistently maintained that the pervasive culture of anti-Semitism, bullying and intimidation can only be tackled by strong and decisive leadership.

“The culture of any organisation is determined by the values and behaviours of those who lead them. “

But Mrs Long-Bailey’s allies on the left of the party have criticised the decision.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who supported her leadership bid, said: “Throughout discussion of anti-Semitism it’s always been said criticism of practices of Israeli state is not anti-Semitic.

“I don’t believe therefore that this article is or Rebecca Long-Bailey should’ve been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.”

And Jon Lansman – founder of the Labour activist group Momentum – said her sacking was “a reckless over-reaction from someone who promised to end factionalism in the party and political interference in disciplinary matters. Keir has now made these tasks harder.”

‘Significant achievements’

The row erupted when Mrs Long-Bailey tweeted “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond” with a link to the article on the Independent website.

The Salford and Eccles MP said she had retweeted the article because of Ms Peake’s “significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party” but she did not endorse “all aspects of it”.

After she was sacked, Mrs Long-Bailey said she had issued a clarification of her retweet of the article “agreed in advance by the Labour Party Leader’s Office”.

She added that she was “subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet of Maxine Peake’s interview down”.

“I could not do this in good conscience without the issuing of a press statement of clarification.

“I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision.”

Mrs Long-Bailey became a Labour MP in 2015. She was a supporter of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and was quickly promoted to his frontbench team, serving as shadow chief secretary of the Treasury and later shadow business secretary.

Following Labour’s defeat in the 2019 election, Mrs Long-Bailey entered the leadership contest to replace Mr Corbyn and was supported by many on the left of the party.

She came second in the contest securing 26.6% of the vote, while Sir Keir won 56.2%.

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Written by Angle News

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