Long-Bailey says she never meant to 'cause hurt' over conspiracy-article retweet

The former shadow education secretary was sacked last week for sharing an interview in which Maxine Peake linked the killing of George Floyd to Israel


Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she takes full responsibility for retweeting an interview with Maxine Peake in which the actress linked the killing of George Floyd to Israel, saying she was “very sad” about what had transpired.

Writing for the Guardian, the former shadow education secretary – who was sacked from the shadow cabinet over the tweet – said she would not have retweeted the article “knowing some of its contents would cause hurt”.

“It may be the case that concerns have been raised by activists in the United States regarding Israeli police training US forces – but I have not seen evidence that the police officers responsible for George Floyd’s killing needed to import their particular brutality from anywhere else,” she wrote.

Ms Peake has also since issued a clarification of her “inaccurate” statement.

In the comment piece, Ms Long-Bailey shed light on the course of events that had led to her sacking, stating her “heart sank” when she learned “many people were concerned about a passage in the article.

“I explained to the leader’s office that I would never have intended to retweet or endorse anything that could cause hurt to anyone. I know how painful the issue of antisemitism has been for the Jewish community and I have been part of the efforts to eradicate it from our party.

“So we discussed how to clarify this. The wording of my clarification, outlining that I did not endorse all aspects of the article, was drafted and agreed by the leader’s office.

“After some discussion regarding whether to delete the original tweet and tweet the clarification separately, or to quote the original tweet, I was advised to add it to my original tweet so the context would be clear. That is exactly what I did.

“Shortly afterwards I was informed that the clarification I had agreed with the leader’s office was insufficient, and was asked to delete it and the original retweet it was attached to.”

She went on to say she told the leader’s office she wanted to issue a further explanation of why she was taking the post down as “complete silence from me over what had just happened would have been an abdication of the Labour Party’s responsibility to advance dialogue and understanding on this issue; silence is what allows antisemitic conspiracy theories to fester and spread.

“I asked to issue a press statement and to discuss it with Keir, so we could sort this out. But when he did call me, he had made his decision. It was a mess, and an avoidable one.

“Of course I take responsibility for my own actions.”

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