Labour leader Sir Keir Stammer made a bold statement with his early morning sacking of Shadow Education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey yesterday after she retweeted an article that featured an anti-semitic conspiracy.
Long-Bailey sparked serious outrage after recently retweeting praise for an article in which The Independent spoke to actor Maxine Peake (an avid supporter of Jeremy Corbyn) where she would claim that the technique used by the US police department and in particular police officer’s Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng who were involved in the death of George Floyd was taught to them by Israeli secret service. The technique being kneeling on somebody’s neck to subdue them.
Maxine Peake said, “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, was learned from seminars with Israeli secret services.”
Long-Bailey retweeted said article saying “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond”.
Soon after the Salford and Eccles MP was in the firing line of many who criticized her praise of such claims with many speaking out about the lack of supporting evidence. The Board of Deputies of British Jews were particularly taken aback about these claims and spoke publicly about her actions, outright condemning them. After serious anger about Long-Bailey’s actions, she tweeted the following; “It was intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article”
This however seemed to be a significant step too far for the Labour Party, as it was announced in a statement that Long-Bailey had been sacked. A spokesperson for the party announced the following “This afternoon Kier Stammer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet … As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it”
It is clear that Keir Stammer is looking to repair the relationship between the party and the Jewish community after the relationship suffered significant problems under the reign of Jeremy Corbyn. It seems as if the relationship may be on the mend, as many Jewish groups welcomed the sacking of Long-Bailey, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews who were vocal in their disappointment of Long-Bailey, praising Stammer actions as “backing his words with actions on antisemitism”
Despite many welcoming the sacking of Long-Bailey, prominent former members of the party John McDonnell and Matt Zarb-Cousin criticized the move, with former Shadow Chancellor McDonnell being particularly vocal of his support for Long-Bailey as he tweeted “Throughout the discussion of antisemitism it’s always been said criticism of practices of the Israeli state is not antisemitic. I don’t believe therefore that this article is, or @RLong_Bailey should’ve been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.”
Despite being bombarded with abuse after her tweet, Long-Bailey seems to be understanding of her dismissal and spoke admirably of her continued support of the Labour Party. Overall, Long-Bailey’s dismissal was a decisive and clear move by Keir Stammer and something which will hopefully put the labour party back in the good graces of the Jewish community.
Words by Paul Dawson