‘Antisemitic conspiracy theory’ tweet sees Long-Bailey booted from UK Labour shadow cabinet


The UK Labour Party’s “antisemitism crisis” has claimed another victim, as shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is fired for sharing an article containing a so-called “antisemitic conspiracy theory.”

“This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet,” a spokesman for the Labour leader said, claiming that an article she shared earlier on Thursday contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

The statement went on to say that Starmer, who took over the party plagued with accusations of antisemitism, has been “clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority,” adding, “antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

Long-Bailey shared an Independent interview with Maxine Peake on Twitter. In it, the actress says: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” It was later updated to include a denial by the Israeli police that this is the case, and a reference to an Amnesty International report about US law enforcement travel to Israel for training was removed.

Amnesty International has said that Israeli forces train US law enforcement and partake in police exchange programs. In the wake of Floyd’s murder, a number of articles circulated, reporting that Minnesota cops received Israeli training in Chicago in 2012. Israeli soldiers have been photographed leaning on Palestinians’ chests and necks, although Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld denies this is a tactic they use. It, of course, isn’t proven that the police officer who killed Floyd was taught how to lean on people’s necks by Israeli police.

Long-Bailey tweeted an explanation for her retweet, saying she shared the article because of Peake’s “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.” 

She later added that she agreed on the wording of her explanation with the Labour Party Leader’s Office, but was “subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet down.” She said she couldn’t do this without issuing a press statement of clarification and asked to discuss it with Starmer but “sadly he had already made his decision.”

5.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.

— Rebecca Long-Bailey (@RLong_Bailey) June 25, 2020

The Jewish Board of Deputies among a number of other groups which called out Long-Bailey’s tweet. Before she was fired, it released a statement slamming the politician’s “pathetic” response to criticism of her tweet and questioning her “suitability” for her role.

.@BoDPres questions Rebecca Long-Bailey’s ‘suitability for the role’ as Shadow Education Secretary after ‘pathetic’ response to criticism that she had shared a false conspiracy theory. pic.twitter.com/bfhQALOgWO

— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) June 25, 2020

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