Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked from her position for sharing an article which included an anti-Semtitic conspiracy theory.
On Twitter, Long-Bailey shared an Independent interview with Maxine Peake, describing her as an “absolute diamond”.
In an earlier version of article, since corrected by editors, Peake had claimed that US police had learnt the technique used that resulted in George Floyd’s death was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services. Although law enforcement officials travelled to Israel for training, there is no suggestion that the training involved such tactics.
Long-Bailey was forced to clarify her support, stating that “it wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”
Also in the article, Peake described those who could not vote Labour at the last general election as Tories.
“It breaks my heart, because you know what? I didn’t like Tony Blair, but I still voted Labour because anything’s better than the Tories. There’s a lot of people who should hang their heads in shame. People going, ‘Oh, I can join the Labour Party again because Keir Starmer’s there,’ well shame on you.”
However, she added that people should get behind the new Labour leader to make sure the party gets back into government.
In a statement, a spokesperson 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 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.
Long-Bailey’s sacking has proved divisive, receiving support from the Jewish Labour Movement but criticised by some more left-wing supporters of the party, including Jeremy Corbyn’s former media adviser Matt Zarb-Cousin.
Sunday Times politics reporter Gabriel Pogrund claimed on Twitter that a source close to Keir Starmer noted that this was not an isolated incident, with Long-Bailey previously failing to condemn a member who blamed the “Israeli lobby” for the party’s election defeat during a leadership hustings in February.
Long-Bailey responded to the news in a Twitter thread by stressing that her retweet of the article was “in no way” an endorsement of the full piece. She also claimed that wording for her clarification had been agreed in advance by the Leader’s Office, but “after posting I was subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original tweet down.”
“I shall continue to support the Labour Party in Parliament under Keir Starmer’s leadership, to represent the people of Salford and Eccles and work towards a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world,” she added.