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Shadow education minister sacked in antisemitism row

Image: Rwendland [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rebecca Long-Bailey leaves Labour frontbench after sharing newspaper article

Labour leader Keir Starmer has asked the party’s education spokeswoman to step down after she shared an interview with the actor Maxine Peake on social media, and restarted a row over antisemitism in the party. 

A spokesperson for Keir Starmer said, “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 said on Twitter that, “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.”

The interview with Peake, a Labour activist and supporter of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, was published in The Independent. It quotes Peake saying that “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 also originally stated that a spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this. The independent has subsequently amended the article to remove the inference.

Long-Bailey was a rival to Starmer in the leadership contest to succeed Corbyn. She was invited to take up the education brief when she finished second behind Starmer in the poll of Labour Party members.

She previously served as shadow business secretary on Corbyn’s frontbench and was thought to be the former leader’s preferred candidate to take over running the party.

More to follow.