Defiant Keir Starmer says he was RIGHT to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey for retweeting a ‘classic’ anti-Semitic ‘conspiracy theory’ despite furious hard-Left backlash
- The Labour leader said he was right to axe left-wing shadow education secretary
- She promoted a controversial interview with actress Maxine Peake
- Shameless star said Israelis taught US police George Floyd murder technique
- Sir Keir told GMB: He added: ‘I took the view that it was anti-Semitism’
Sir Keir’s decision to remove Ms Long-Bailey sparked fury among leading left-wing figures who accused him of starting a purge
Keir Starmer slapped down his hard Left critics today as he defended his decision to sack leading Corbynista Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an ‘anti-Semitic conspiracy theory’.
The Labour leader said he was right to axe his former challenger from her job as shadow education secretary after she retweeted an interview with the ex-Communist actress Maxine Peake.
Speaking to the Independent Ms Peake accused the Israeli security services of teaching US police the ‘neck choke’ move which was used to kill George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Sir Keir’s decision to remove Ms Long-Bailey, who stood as the continuity Corbynite candidate for leader following Labour’s election disaster last December, sparked fury among leading left-wing figures who accused him of starting a purge.
But he told Good Morning Britain today that Ms Peake’s accusation was ‘the same old, same old, which is a problem anywhere in the world, point the finger at Israel’.
He added: ‘I took the view that it was anti-Semitism.
‘Rebecea had tweeted about it. I wanted her to take her tweet down straight away and that didn’t happen. And in the end I asked her to stand down from the shadow cabinet.’
Sir Keir said Ms Peake’s accusation was ‘the same old, same old, which is a problem anywhere in the world, point the finger at Israel’. He added: ‘I took the view that it was anti-Semitism’
He added: This is not a left right issue in the Labour Party, it’s an issue of principle for me. Zero tolerance on antisemitism.
I would have taken the same action in relation to anyone else in the Labour Party.’
Following Ms Long-Bailey’s dismissal, Ms Peake acknowledged that her comments in an interview with the Independent had been ‘inaccurate’.
Ms Long-Bailey, however, insisted it was not ‘racist or anti-Semitic’ to draw attention to concerns about police tactics.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell was among those on the left of the party to reject claims that Ms Peake’s comments were anti-Semitic and said he stood ‘in solidarity’ with Ms Long-Bailey.
A war party of MPs from the Socialist Campaign Group, including ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn, met Sir Keir on Friday, in a bid to force a U-turn.
But he refused to change his mind, with Jewish groups and many Labour MPs backing his firm and swift action.
Asked today whether he was accusing Ms Long-Bailey of anti-Semitism, Sir Keir said: ‘No I’m not. What I’m saying is that my acceptance speech as leader of the Labour Party was very, very clear, I took the first opportunity to apologize for the way the Labour Party had failed on antisemitism in the past and I said I was determined to tear it out by the roots.
‘I didn’t just mean words, I meant actions. That’s why I took the action I did last Thursday. I do not want the Labour Party and anti-Semitism in the same sentence again… this isn’t just about winning votes, this is about values and principles. I do not want anti-Semitism in our Labour Party.’