Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked as English shadow education secretary

Left-winger shared article that party leader said contained ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’

June 25, 2020
Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked as shadow education secretary for England after sharing an article that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said contained an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”.

The article, which Ms Long-Bailey shared on Twitter, claimed that the police tactic of kneeling on someone’s neck, which led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, was “learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services”. Israel has rejected this claim.

The article was authored by actor Maxine Peake, and Ms Long-Bailey stated on Twitter that Ms Peake was an “absolute diamond”.

Ms Long-Bailey later added that she “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.”

But the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was “pathetic” that Ms Long-Bailey had not deleted the tweet and apologised.

A Labour spokesman said that Sir Keir had “asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet”.

“The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory,” the spokesman said. “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 stood against Sir Keir for the Labour leadership earlier this year, winning support from the left wing of the party. She had been shadow education secretary since April.

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Reader's comments (7)

Good riddance she is a left wing Marxist with little to say !
Very true!
Convenient opportunity to get rid of her and increase Starmer's power base. That said, whether making the idiotic claim that Israeli forces kneel on people's necks is an assault on a world religion is debatable.
The 'article' was in fact a picture of an Israeli soldier kneeling on the neck of a Palestinian man well before any such thing happened in the U.S.A. apparently. Is this the conspiracy theory that one taught the other what to do. Further where are The Black Lives Matter protesters now. Why the silence about exactly the same scenes in Israel.
Saying that kneeling on one's neck to suffocate is a technique learned from Israelis might be true or not (probably the latter; I am an Israeli quite well-informed on the IDF's atrocities against the Palestinians, and kneeling on neck is not known to be one of them). Yet this is not anti-Semitic, because this is a probable falsehood about the Israeli repressive state apparatus, not about Jews as such. Long-Bailey's sacking is therefore a plain outrage. If the new leader of the Labour thinks that by caving in to the pro-Israeli lobby he will regain the "Jewish vote" then it is he who works by anti-Semitic assumptions. Shame on him.
Regardless of whether Peake's assertion in that article has any basis in reality, I similarly fail to see how drawing a connection between the use of this technique by US police and the Israeli secret service constitutes antisemitism. Since when was the Israeli state synonymous with the Jewish faith? The Israel-can-do-no-wrong lobby appears to have had another hollow victory.
The anti-Semitic angle for me is the left's obsession with Israel. People are aghast at Trump repeatedly linking Covid-19 with China, which is seen as racist (and is probably intended to be) but one can at least understand why China crops up in the discussion. Why did Maxine Peake bring up Israel? Why did RLB not spot this? And when it was pointed out to her, why did she not accept she'd dropped a clanger (as Maxine Peake herself quickly admitted)?