Long-Bailey sacked by Starmer in anti-Semitism row

Rebecca Long-Bailey kicked off Labour's front bench after sharing an 'anti-Semitic conspiracy theory'.

Long-Bailey: Fought Starmer for the Labour leadership. Getty Images
Long-Bailey: Fought Starmer for the Labour leadership.

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked from Labour’s shadow cabinet after sharing an article containing “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”.

Party leader Sir Keir Starmer took action after former leadership rival Long-Bailey tweeted a link to an interview with the actress Maxine Peake.

In the interview, Ms Peake claimed the US police officers involved in the death of George Floyd had learned their tactics from the Israeli secret services.

A spokesman for Starmer said this amounted to an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”, adding the Labour leader is focused on “restoring trust with the Jewish community”.

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Long-Bailey, who was serving as shadow education secretary, later said she had not meant to endorse all aspects of the article.

Starmer’s spokesman said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the Shadow Cabinet.

“The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

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

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“Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

In a statement on Twitter, Long-Bailey said she had issued a clarification of her retweet of the article “agreed in advance by the Labour Party leader’s office”.

But she continued: “After posting I 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.”

Analysis: Starmer goes for the jugular

Keir Starmer listens to Rebecca Long-Bailey at a Labour leadership hustings in February.

by Bernard Ponsonby

This sacking is the clearest indication to date that Keir Starmer will take a zero tolerance approach to allegations of anti-Semitism.

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He could have accepted Rebecca Long-Bailey’s explanation for sharing the article and allowed her to stay on, perhaps after demanding a statement couched in a language of mea culpa.

Instead, he has simply gone for the jugular.

Today’s sacking answers an important question about Starmer’s temperament.

Will he appease or enforce his will? I think we just got the answer to that.

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