Monday, July 4, 2022
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Labour Anti Semitism Row Continues

Labour Anti-Semitism Row: Starmer Meets MPs after Long-Bailey Sacking
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is speaking to MPs concerned about the sacking of former shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey. Mrs Long-Bailey was asked to stand down on Thursday after retweeting an interview which Sir Keir said contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

The interview with actress Maxine Peake suggested US police learned violent tactics from Israeli secret services.

Mrs Long-Bailey later said she did not agree with all aspects of the article. “In no way was my retweet an intention to endorse every part of that article,” she said.

Labour Anti Semitism Row Continues

Jewish groups and some MPs welcomed Sir Keir’s decision but Mrs Long-Bailey’s allies on the party’s left said it was an overreaction.

The row began when the Salford and Eccles MP tweeted “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond” with a link to an interview with the actress and Labour supporter on the Independent website.

Sir Keir is via zoom speaking to members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, who have expressed concern about Mrs Long-Bailey’s sacking. The group’s membership includes former leader Jeremy Corbyn, and other prominent left-wingers such as Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Ms Peake’s interview included a “dreamed-up” theory linking Israel with the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, US, last month.

“I think it’s a horrendous situation and I think Rebecca Long-Bailey’s response was pathetic. As someone who aspired to be an education secretary, she would be expected to read and understand materials,” she said.

Former Labour MP and now government adviser on anti-Semitism John Mann told BBC Breakfast Sir Keir had been fair and shown leadership. “I’m delighted and I’m very reassured. I think across the Jewish community, reassurance is the word that comes to mind,” he said.

In the Independent article, Ms Peake, star of the BBC drama Silk, discussed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

The article quoted the Israeli police denying Ms Peake’s claim. The actress later acknowledged it was “inaccurate”, adding on Twitter that she found racism and anti-Semitism “abhorrent”.

Three hours after Mrs Long-Bailey’s retweet, a Labour spokesperson confirmed Sir Keir had asked her to stand down, saying he “has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority”.

Labour has struggled with allegations of anti-Semitism since 2016. It became a constant backdrop to the tenure of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir stood as his successor on a platform of being tough on anti-Semitism in the party.

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