Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked as shadow Education Secretary by Keir Starmer

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The Labour leader has asked his former leadership rival to stand down as Shadow Education Secretary. The decision was made after the Salford and Eccles MP shared an article which contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

In a newspaper interview, Labour-supporting actor Maxine Peake claimed Israel had trained US police to use controversial tactics similar to the ones which led to the death of the black man George Flloyd in Minneapolis.

The interview also focused on the actor’s support for former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Sharing the article on Twitter, Ms Long Bailey wrote: “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond.”

A spokesman for the Labour leader 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.

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

Her dismissal from the Opposition front bench comes despite Ms Long Bailey trying to distance herself with the comments.

Following outrage that she had shared the interview with Maxine Peake, the Labour MP wrote on social media: “I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her 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.

“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.”

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She added she had agreed wording an apology by the Labour Party Leader’s Office but was told to “take both this agreed clarification” and her “original retweet down”.

Ms Long Bailey said: “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.”

However Ms Long-Bailey – who was a candidate in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election and finished second to Sir Starmer – said she had discussed matters with the Labour leader before “agreeing what further action to take” but subsequently she was sacked from her position.

The Jewish Labour Movement welcomed Sir Starmer’s decision and issued a statement which read: “Keir Starmer’s decision to ask Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the front bench should be welcomed.

“We have consistently maintained that the pervasive culture of anti-Semitism, bullying and intimidation can only be tackled by strong and decisive leadership.

“The culture of any organisation is determined by the values and behaviours of those who lead them.

“The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into the Labour Party is soon to report.

“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.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl condemned Ms Long-Bailey for her “frankly pathetic” apology.

She said “As soon as we saw that Rebecca Long-Bailey had shared this we wrote to her detailing how this conspiracy theory is false and requested she delete her tweet and issue an apology.

“Rebecca Long-Bailey’s response is frankly pathetic.

“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.”

The Board has since backed Sir Starmer’s decision to sack the Shadow Education Secretary.

Claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party were heightened after Jeremy Corbyn was elected the party leader back in 2015.

High-profile suspensions over alleged anti-Semitic comments included MP Naz Shah, the ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone and MP Chris Williamson, an ally and friend of Mr Corbyn.

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