Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an antisemitic conspiracy theory and appears to have shifted up a gear in his promise to “tear [antisemitism] out by its roots” in his Party.
The Labour leader removed his Shadow Education Secretary today after she earlier tweeted an endorsement of an offensive interview by the actress Maxine Peake, who claimed that Israel was to blame for the racist killing of George Floyd.
Ms Long-Bailey approvingly retweeted the article and subsequently clarified that earlier tweet, but without deleting it or condemning the trope.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “We have been critical of Sir Keir Starmer’s early handling of incidents within the Labour Party and the fact that he has not yet announced a timetable for reforming the Party’s broken disciplinary process.
“His swift and firm action in this case appears to indicate that he is taking our comments on board and has shifted up a gear. Sir Keir’s decision to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey for retweeting an antisemitic conspiracy theory sends a clear message to those in the Labour Party’s ranks who still think that antisemitism is a grey area.
“We were disconcerted that one of Sir Keir’s first moves was to appoint her to his Shadow Cabinet given her long history of denying the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party, but he has put that right today. We now expect that Ms Long-Bailey will be the subject of disciplinary proceedings under an overhauled system which must be fair, transparent and efficient.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “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. Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
Ms Long-Bailey has a record of denying the extent of antisemitism within the Labour Party and resisting attempts to fight it, including having:
- Defended Jeremy Corbyn over the gushing foreword he wrote to a reissue of J.A. Hobson’s 1902 work, Imperialism: A Study, in which the author cast the blame for great wars on the Rothschild family, which was once predominantly Jewish, and their supposed control of the media — Mr Corbyn described the book as “correct and prescient”;
- Voted against Labour’s adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, and backed the infamous ‘code’ that the Party proposed as an alternative;
- Supported Jeremy Corbyn, an antisemite whose leadership she rated as “ten out of ten”, at every point;
- Claimed to have never heard of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, whose tactics an overwhelming majority of Jews find intimidating;
- Lied to the Jewish community by promising to join Labour Friends of Israel and then failing to do so; and
- Given an interview to the far-left website, The Canary, which is under investigation by the Government’s Independent Advisor on Antisemitism.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.