Starmer sacks Long-Bailey for sharing article containing ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’

Shadow Education Secretary had praised an interview with Maxine Peake in which the actress linked the killing of George Floyd to Israel


Sir Keir Starmer has asked his former leadership rival Rebecca Long Bailey to stand down as shadow education secretary after accusing her of sharing an article that “contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory”.

Ms Long-Bailey had praised a newspaper interview with Maxine Peake in which the actress linked the killing of George Floyd to Israel, claiming that the techniques used by American police departments were learned “from seminars with Israeli secret services”.

Ms Long-Bailey shared the piece adding that Ms Peake was an “absolute diamond”.   

She later attempted to clarify her remark, stating that she had shared the article because of Ms Peake's ”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”.  

But the Jewish Leadership Council led calls on Thursday for Sir Keir to take action against Ms Long-Bailey suggesting he needed to “show he means what he says’’ over tackling anti-Jewish racism in his party.

Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board, said that Ms Long-Bailey’s response was “pathetic” and said: “As someone who aspires to be the next Education Secretary, we would expect her to read and understand materials before sharing them.

“If she is incapable of doing this, it raises serious and immediate questions about her suitability for the role.”

Sir Keir later told BBC News ''the sharing of that article was wrong'' and that he had ''stood Rebecca Long Bailey down from the shadow cabinet because I made it my first priority to tackle antisemtism - and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority for me.''

A spokesman for the Labour leader confirmed Ms Long-Bailey had been sacked from the shadow cabinet added: "This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet.

"The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

"As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority.

"Antismitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it."

Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge said:’’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.’’

The Jewish Labour Movement added:’’ We welcome Keir Starmer’s actions and hope that the Party, at every level, reflect and learn from this.’’

Mrs van der Zyl said she wanted to ‘’thank’’ the Labour leader for ‘’backing his words with actions over antisemitism.’’

The move immediately triggered a backlash from hard-left supporters of previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Long-Bailey was the continuity-Corbyn candidate in the leadership contest earlier this year – in a campaign led by former Momentum founder Jon Lansman.

But with the publication of the EHRC report into antisemitism in his party imminent, pro-Starmer supporters said the move ‘’shows he means business on antisemitism.’’

Labour sources told the JC that Ms Long-Bailey’s previous failure over issues relating to Israel and antisemitism had also been assessed before she was sacked.

In February the JC reported how she had failed to challenge a comment made by a Labour member who blamed Mr Corbyn's general election defeat on the "Israeli lobby".

Jack Thomas – a member of Sefton Labour Party – had said: "The people who prevented Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister most are Tom Watson, John Mann and Margaret Hodge and they are all members of the Israeli lobby - why on earth did you declare yourself to be a Zionist?  

“The people who prevented Jeremy Corbyn from becoming leader most are people like Margaret Hodge, John Mann, Tom Watson, and they are all members of the Israeli lobby.”

Ms Long-Bailey failed to condemn the comments and instead spoke of her support for Palestine alongside a secure Israel.

Responding to her sacking Ms Long-Bailey said she was asked by the Labour leader to take her ‘’clarification and my original retweet down.’’

She added:’’ 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.’’

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