25 June 2020 | UK NEWS
The Shadow Education Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has been asked to resign her Shadow Cabinet position by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, after she shared an interview piece that contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter. Ms Long-Bailey duly did so, just after 3pm today.
The actor and Labour supporter Maxine Peake had given an interview that was released by The Independent. In the interview, Peake had pushed a theory that connected the death of George Floyd with Israel. The claim was that US police forces were trained by Israeli forces in violent restraining techniques.
She said in the interview: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”
Sir Keir Starmer said in response to Ms Long-Bailey’s actions that his “first priority” was tackling anti- Semitism.
On the sharing of the article, he said: “The sharing of that article was wrong… because the article contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and I have therefore stood Rebecca Long-Bailey down from the Shadow Cabinet.
“I’ve made it my first priority to tackle anti-Semitism and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority for me.”
A spokesman for the Labour leader also said: “Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
Ms Long-Bailey responded to the criticism by tweeting: “I retweeted an interview that my constituent and stalwart Labour Party supporter Maxine Peake gave to the Independent. Its main thrust was anger with the Conservative Government’s handling of the current emergency and a call for Labour Party unity.”
The national chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, Mike Katz, said: “We have consistently maintained that the pervasive culture of anti-Semitism, bullying and intimidation can only be tackled by strong and decisive leadership.
“The culture of any organisation is determined by the values and behaviours of those who lead them.”
Rebecca Long-Bailey was not the first on the Labour left to passively publicise or condemn this theory. The Express released footage, aided by us at Wolves, of Jeremy Corbyn on a Stop the War Zoom conference idly sitting by while left-wing academic Tariq Ali put forward this same view. Ali said: “I would now like to come to another part of the world which ironically links the knee on the neck of George Floyd to this region, because a lot of the American police forces have been trained in Israel.
“Not just the Americans, but many from right-wing countries in South America. And the method in dealing with protests or ordinary citizens is virtually the same. You can find lots of photos of Israelis – when these people are brave enough to take photographs – with their knees on the neck of Palestinians.”
Other left-wing news outlets have also popularised this conspiracy, with the Morning Star among those pushing the narrative. The BDS and the Palestinian Solidarity working group within the Democratic Socialists of America said at the time of the protests on Twitter: “The police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook. How many times have we seen uprisings in Gaza met w/ a storm of tear gas? How many times are Palestinians in the West Bank doused w/ skunk water during a protest? US cops train in Israel.”
Our own investigation at Wolves of Westminster found the link between Floyd and Israel to be highly tenuous.
It follows an earlier revelation regarding Ms Long-Bailey’s comments last week, also publicised by The Express and aided by Wolves, in which she instructed union leaders to “politically educate” their members – especially newer ones – in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier today, we were also pleased to contribute to the emergence that Sir Keir had praised Ms Long-Bailey and celebrated her inclusion in his Shadow Cabinet, following his leadership campaign victory over her and his other opponent Lisa Nandy, as recently as last night. This took place on a Q&A Zoom call hosted by My Life, My Say yesterday evening, and can be watched here:
Other notable left-wing Labour MPs, including John McDonnell, have condemned the move by Sir Keir. Mr McDonnell said in particular on Twitter that he would “stand in solidarity” with her. The Forward Momentum sub-group of the Corbynite campaign group Momentum has also sent an e-mail to all its supporters this evening, urging Labour members not to leave the party, but instead to stay and organise. They told their followers:
“We send our solidarity to Rebecca Long-Bailey, who unlike the leadership, has stood by teachers and tenants over the last few months against the dangerous Tory prioritisation of the ‘economy’ over public health.
“Today is a powerful reminder for all of us, that no matter how many times he talks about his record of standing up to power, without an organised and active left holding his feet to the fire, Starmer will continue to drift rightwards.”
Ms Long-Bailey was Momentum’s preferred candidate for the Labour leadership. She will now return to the back benches.