Salford MP sacked for sharing “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory" on social media

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Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey from the Shadow Cabinet after she shared an article which contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory on Twitter.

The main point of the interview with Maxine Peak in the Arts section of the Independent was about Labour voters and how the actor believed that people who didn’t vote Labour because of Corbyn “voted Tory as far as I’m concerned.”

She also talked about “ridding ourselves of capitalism” and the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, one section of the article referred to a 2016 Amnesty International report that said hundreds of US law enforcement officials had travelled to Israel for training.

It implied that this training “could have included neck kneeling tactics” - although there is no evidence of this.

The article has since been amended.

This afternoon, the Salford & Eccles MP and former Shadow Education Secretary, who ran against Sir Keir Starmer for leadership of the Labour Party, issued an apology on Twitter:

“Today 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.

“I am proud of the policies we have developed within the party from our Green Industrial Revolution to a National Education Service and I will never stop working for the change our communities need to see.

“I am clear that I shall continue to support the Labour Party in Parliament under Keir Starmer’s leadership, to represent the people of Salford and Eccles and work towards a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world.”

A spokesperson for the Labour leader added:

"This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet. The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

"As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it."