Left-wing Labour MPs restrained in response to Long-Bailey's sacking

’You might have expected talk of them resigning from their roles in protest at what happened yesterday – but nothing'


Left-wing Labour MPs have held back from a full-on attack against Sir Keir Starmer over his decision to sack shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

At a virtual meeting today, the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs – which includes former leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Leeds MP Richard Burgon – there were no threats of resignations or disruption.

Sources say that the Campaign Group told Sir Keir they feared the decision to axe Ms Long-Bailey – after she shared an article claiming the Israeli secret service had taught American police the technique that led to the death of George Floyd - was part of a wider move to stifle debate over Palestine.

They also sought assurances that he would appoint another MP from the left of the party as Ms Long-Bailey’s replacement.

One party source told the JC: “Keir will be well satisfied with what he heard from the Campaign Group.

‘’It seems like there have been plenty of tweets expressing solidarity with Long-Bailey but not a lot else really.

‘’MPs like Dan Carden, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Sam Tarry have all been promoted under Keir, despite being supporters of Corbyn before.

‘’You might have expected talk of them resigning from their roles in protest at what happened yesterday – but nothing.’’

In a statement released after the meeting the Campaign Group said they had discussed ''Israel's imminent annextation of the West Bank'' with Sir Keir and the need for the party's members to speak out on the issue.

They described the meeting as ''business like.''

Mr McDonnell was among those to share a petition calling for Ms Long-Bailey’s reinstatement.

And MP Claudia Webbe tweeted: ‘’Dear Keir, it is the sacking of Robert Jenrick MP that Labour should be calling for.’’

Other left-wing MPs including Jon Trickett also tweeted their disapproval of the leader’s actions.

But one pro-Starmer MP told the JC: “Keir will not be defeated by Twitter, that’s for sure.’’

Earlier, Sir Keir said his "primary objective" as leader was to rebuild trust with the Jewish community after years of the party being embroiled in allegations of antisemitism.

"I do not consider sharing that article furthered the cause of rebuilding trust with the Jewish community and that's why I stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down," 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."

Ms Long-Bailey was dismissed after being asked to take down her tweet endorsing an interview with Maxine Peake and apologise.

Instead she retweeted her original message with a clarification, which she claimed had been endorsed by Sir Keir. But she ignored his further demands to issue a full apology.

"There is a valid concern about police practices across the world and I don't think that, worded in the right way, it's racist or antisemitic to draw attention to that," she told the Daily Mirror on Friday.

"I completely agree with the need for us to intensively rebuild our relationship with the Jewish community and the wider electorate. I can understand the difficulties of Keir's position.’’

Ms Long-Bailey said she had been "incredibly upset" by Sir Keir's decision to remove her from her shadow cabinet role.

Meanwhile, in an interview on Radio 4, Momentum founder Jon Lansman said "divided parties do not win elections". He had "every confidence" that Sir Keir could maintain party unity, but it would be much harder now.

"Keir wanted to include the other candidates from the leadership election... which was quite right, but what he's now done is sacked the leading left opponent in that election.

"And in order to unite the party he's got to build trust across the party, trust from the left. That's one of the ingredients necessary if you are going to reunite the party and from what he's done he's made it much harder for himself."

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