Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary after she retweeted an article that was deemed antisemitic.
Long-Bailey was removed by the shadow cabinet today after she reposted an article that claimed the US policeman that killed George Floyd had learnt the tactics in Israel.
Actress Maxine Peak made the comments in an interview published today in the Independent.
She said: “Systemic racism is a global issue… The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”
Long-Bailey retweeted the article, adding: “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond.”
The Independent has since removed the paragraph in question, and Long-Bailey has deleted her tweet.
A spokesperson for Keir Starmer 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 issued a statement on Twitter, saying:
“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.
These are sentiments are shared by everyone in our movement and millions of people in our country. I learned that many people were concerned by references to international sharing of training and restraint techniques between police and security forces.
In no way was my retweet an intention to endorse every part of that article.
I wished to acknowledge these concerns and duly issued a clarification of my retweet, with the wording agreed in advance by the Labour party leader’s office, but after posting I was subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet down.
I could not do this in good conscience without the issuing of a press statement of clarification. I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision.
Long-Bailey, who has served as the MP for Salford and Eccles since 2015, was a staunch ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn’s rule of the Labour Party was plagued by accusations of antisemitism, and the party was accused by some of its own MPs of tolerating a culture of anti-Jewish prejudice.
Long-Bailey ran against Starmer in the Labour leadership contest, where she secured the support of grassroots pro-Corbyn movement Momentum.
She came second place in the contest, receiving almost 28 per cent of the vote share, while Starmer was elected as Labour leader with 56 per cent of the vote.
Starmer appointed Long-Bailey shadow secretary of state for education in April, in a move that was widely acknowledged as a bid to appease Labour’s left-leaning faction.