By Grahame Anderson
Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked as shadow education secretary after retweeting an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, the party has said.
Seen for a long time as former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s favoured choice to carry on what ex shadow chancellor John McDonnell described as ‘the project’, Ms Long-Bailey managed to win only 27.6 per cent of the total votes in the recent leadership election.
Eventual winner Sir Keir Starmer wasted little time in asking her to take up a new role in his shadow cabinet in late spring. He was equally speedy in requesting the MP for Salford and Eccles stand down in light of his own determination to restore trust with the Jewish community, saying: “Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
Ms Long-Bailey had tweeted an Independent interview with actor Maxine Peake, in which Peake claims US police officers learned the technique of kneeling on suspects’ necks from the Israeli secret service.
George Floyd, lost his life died after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.
In a lengthy statement Ms Bailey explained: “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.
“I wished to acknowledge these concerns and duly issued a clarification of my retweet, with the wording agreed in advance by the Labour Party leader’s Office, but after posting I was subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet 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.
“I am proud of the policies we have developed within the party from our green industrial revolution to a national education service and I will never stop working for the change our communities need to see.
“I am clear that I shall continue to support the Labour Party in Parliament under Keir Starmer’s leadership, to represent the people of Salford and Eccles and work towards a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world.”
In defence of Ms Long-Bailey, John McDonnell, 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.”
Jewish Labour Movement
National Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement Mike Katz said Ms Long-Bailey’s sacking “should be welcomed”.
“The Labour Party must be able to implement the kind of cultural and structural changes required to end institutionalised discrimination.
“We hope that the Party, at every level, reflect and learn from this action.”