Rebecca Long-Bailey speaks out after sacked from Labour front amid anti-Semitism row

Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long has said she is “incredibly upset” after being fired from Labour’s front bench over an article she shared on social media.

Ms Long-Bailey, branded the “continuity Corbyn” candidate in the party’s recent leadership battle, was stood down by leader Sir Keir Starmer after she shared a story which Sir Keir said expressed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

She later said she did not endorse all aspects of the article and acknowledged that the claim had caused “extreme concern”.

In the article, actor Maxine Peake said police linked to the death of George Floyd in the United States learned their tactics from Israeli intelligence agencies. Israel dismissed the lawsuit, and later Ms. Peake said it was wrong.

But Ms. Long Bailey said politicians should speak out on issues such as allegations of police brutality.

She told the Daily Mirror: “There is a valid concern about police practices across the world and I don’t think that, worded in the right way, it’s racist or anti-Semitic to draw attention to that.”

As leading left-wing figures in the party spoke of the dismissal of Ms. Long Bailey, MP from Salford and Ackles stated that Sir Keir must fulfill his campaign promises of the Labor Leader.

Ms Long-Bailey said: “I completely agree with the need for us to intensively rebuild our relationship with the Jewish community and the wider electorate. I can understand the difficulties of Keir’s position.

Stood down from the front bench Rebecca Long-Bailey

Stood down from the front bench: Rebecca Long-Bailey (Getty Images)

“Whilst we don’t agree on everything, we agree on the need for a Labour government and I’ll still do everything I possibly can to make sure that happens.”

“The only way that we’ll win a general election is by being unified as a party that’s why it’s so important for me to make the choice not to be critical about the way I might have been treated.”

But Ms. Long Bailey said she was “incredibly upset” by Sir Keir’s decision to remove her from her role in the shadow cabinet, while Jewish groups praised Sir Keir for his quick actions.

Sir Keir said his “main goal” was to restore confidence in the Jewish community after several years when Labor was involved in anti-Semitism allegations under Jeremy Corbin.

“I do not consider sharing that article furthered the cause of rebuilding trust with the Jewish community and that’s why I stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down,” he said.

“I didn’t do that because she is anti-Semitic, I did it because she shared the article which has got – in my view – anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in it.”

Ms Long-Bailey originally tweeted a link to the interview with Ms Peake on Thursday morning, describing her as “an absolute diamond”.

She later tweeted an “clarification” in which she said she shared the article because of the “significant accomplishments” of the actress and her support for the Labor Party.

She added: “It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”

Senior Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish and a fierce critic of Mr Corbyn, said: “This is what a change in culture looks like. This is what zero tolerance looks like. This is what rebuilding trust with the Jewish community looks like.”

However, there was an angry response from key allies of the former Labor leader.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: “Throughout discussion of anti-Semitism it’s always been said criticism of (the) practices of (the) Israeli state is not anti-Semitic.

“I don’t believe therefore that this article is or (that) Rebecca Long-Bailey should’ve been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.”

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey tweeted the sacking of Ms Long-Bailey was “an unnecessary over-reaction to a confected row. Unity is too important to be risked like this.”

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