Anti-Semitism Job Row: Starmer to meet with MPs after Long-Bailey’s firing

Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long BaileyImage copyright
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Sir Keir Starmer appointed Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary in April

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer will speak to parliamentarians concerned about the firing of former shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Ms. Long-Bailey was asked to leave on Thursday after retweeting an article that Sir Keir said contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

He later said that he did not intend to endorse all aspects of the article.

Jewish groups and some parliamentarians welcomed the decision, but their allies on the left of the party said it was an overreaction.

The dispute started when the Salford and Eccles deputy tweeted “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond” with a link to an interview with the actor and Labor supporter on the independent website.

In the article, Ms. Peake spoke about the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying: “The tactics used by the police in the United States, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, learned from seminars with Israeli secret services.” .

The independent article quoted the Israeli police as denying Ms. Peake’s claim. She later acknowledged that it was “inexact”, adding that she considered racism and anti-Semitism “abhorrent”.

Three hours after Ms. Long Bailey’s retweet, a Labor spokesperson confirmed that Sir Keir had asked her to withdraw, saying that “it has become clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority.”

Labor has struggled with accusations of anti-Semitism since 2016.

It became a constant backdrop to the mandate of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir was his successor on a platform of being tough on anti-Semitism in the party.

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Media captionStarmer: “I have made it my first priority to tackle anti-Semitism”

The Jewish Labor Movement, which has led calls to crack down on anti-Semitism in the ranks of labor, welcomed the decision by the Labor leader to fire Ms. Long-Bailey, while the Board of Deputies of Jews British thanked him for his “quick action”.

However, John McDonnell, who was Corbyn’s shadow chancellor, criticized the decision and said: “Throughout the discussion of anti-Semitism it has always been said that criticism of the practices of the Israeli state is not anti-Semitic.”

“So I don’t think this article is or Rebecca Long-Bailey should have been fired. I sympathize with her.”

Also supporting her, Unite secretary-general Len McCluskey, whose union supported Ms. Long-Bailey when she faced Sir Keir to become a Labor leader, said her dismissal was “an unnecessary overreaction to a confined row.”

“Unity is too important to risk like that,” he said.

A reopening of divisions?

Upon becoming a leader, Sir Keir said he wanted to bring unity to the party where there had previously been clashes between factions.

His decision may reopen divisions, with a former shadow minister to the left of the party telling me that this was “a dangerous time for the party,” with the new leader “purging” those with whom he disagreed.

Others at the party point out that Sir Keir has done a lot in a short time to install people close to him in key positions.

However, leadership sources insist that the layoff was not part of a grand plan.

They say that Ms. Long-Bailey had to leave because she repeatedly refused to remove her retweet from the Maxine Peake article when asked to do so.

And for Sir Keir, it’s about addressing the toxic perception of anti-Semitism in the Labor Party before a potentially damning report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

His allies say he promised actions and not words to the Jewish community and that he is delivering.

Those who were once close to Jeremy Corbyn say the next shadow education secretary must come from the left of the party if the Labor leader is concerned about maintaining unity.

Who Is Rebecca Long-Bailey?

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Mrs. Long-Bailey was born in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, in 1979 and prior to politics, she worked in a pawn shop and call centers.

At university, he studied politics and sociology and then studied law through part-time courses.

She joined the Labor Party in 2010 and was selected as a Labor candidate for Salford and Eccles in the 2015 elections.

She was one of 36 Labor MPs who nominated Mr. Corbyn for the party’s leadership in 2015 and subsequently joined his shadow cabinet.

When he retired, she ran to replace him, saying the party needed a “socialist leader who can work with our movement, rebuild our communities, and fight for the policies we believe in.”

After Sir Keir won the contest in April, she joined her senior team as shadow education secretary.

Read more here.