Last week the shadow education minister Rebecca Long-Bailey was sacked from her role due to the sharing of an article that, it was claimed, contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Lots of speculation has been made about the reasoning for this sacking with many viewing it as new Labour leader Sir Kier Stammer taking a strong stance on anti-Semitism. In contrast, many hard-left Labour members view this simply as an excuse for getting rid of the last remaining Corbynite in the shadow cabinet. Before I look at these two reasonings for her sacking, it’s vital to look at what actually happened, which caused Rebecca Long-Bailey’s sacking.
Rebecca Long-Bailey retweeted an article by The Independent in which they interview actress Maxine Peak. She discusses a variety of topics as well as her love for Corbyn and hatred for anyone who didn’t vote for him. Now in part of the article she claims that the submission technique used by the Minnesota Police Force which killed George Floyd was taught to them by the Israeli Secret Service. These claims were later found to be completely unfounded as the Israeli government denied these claims and both Peak and the Independent have apologised for making them.
When I first heard of the Ex-Shadow Secretary Long-Bailey’s sacking I, like many others, didn’t understand what was anti-Semitic about the article. The link to the Jewish Secret Service felt unjustified and misplaced but criticising Israel is not an attack on the Jewish community as the two are separate groups. It’s when you look at the history of Jewish persecution and how the Jewish community have been blamed for many things that were not their fault that you understand that by bringing in the Jewish state of Israel with no evidence to back your claim, the claims made in the article are in fact anti-Semitic.
With this in mind I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that Sir Stammer used this as an excuse to get rid of MP Long-Bailey simply because she was a Corbynite. As a Labour supporter I think the party has struggled with finding its identity with the leadership of Ed (can’t eat a ham sandwich) Miliband and Jeremy (7 out of 10 importance to stay in the EU) Corbyn both not being able to bring the party together as a whole. That’s why I think Kier Stammer’s cry for unity in his Labour leadership campaign was important so we can finally be a whole party and mount a proper attempt at securing number 10.
If he wants unity, then why would he want to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey?
She was the hardest left member of the shadow cabinet and many say she is the reincarnation of Jeremy Corbyn which is why she came second in the party’s leadership election. To remove her from the cabinet would cause a lot of party members to feel alienated from the decisions being made by the party. Kier Stammer would have known this but he felt it was more important to take a stand against anti-Semitism due to the parties history.
The idea that she had a target on her back from the minute she was appointed shadow education minister seems ridiculous to me and completely contradicts Kier Stammer’s whole ideals as Labour leader.
This is why I think the reason Kier Stammer sacked her was because he will not tolerate anti-Semitism and will not defend other party members when he knows they’re wrong. One of the first statements that Kier Stammer made as Labour leader was to apologise to the Jewish community. He had to do this to show how different he was to Mr Corbyn whose tenure as leader was littered with excuses and wishy-washy apologies when it came to accusations of anti-Semitism against the party.
What I like about Kier Stammer is he won’t make excuses for wrongful party members in the same way that Boris has done with Dominic Cummings for driving about England to check his eyesight. He told Rebecca Long-Bailey directly that she has to take the article down due to its offensive nature to the Jewish community. Allegedly she refused to do this multiple times and instead wanted to justify her sharing of said article, and it got to a point where Kier Stammer had had enough so she was sacked.
Rebecca Long-Bailey has said both before and after her sacking that she does not endorse every part of the article and has since stated the importance of fighting against anti-Semitism but frankly, it’s too little too late. Although I don’t think she is anti-Semitic, I do think she has far too much pride which is part of the reason she refused to take down the article. I think she re-tweeted the article after only reading a couple of lines and didn’t actually think about what she was doing and instead of just deleting and apologising wanted to fight against the man who beat her to party leadership.
If this incident had happened two years into Kier Stammer’s leadership, I reckon there would have been a longer process in determining whether it was a mistake or in fact anti-Semitic. However, Sir Stammer wants to show his party and the country that he will not stand for racism in the party or members who do not listen to him.
Picture Credit: Jeremy Corbyn