Norwich MP endorses criticism of Long-Bailey sacking as ‘loss to party’

(left to right) Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer, Clive Lewis. Picture: PA/Jacob King/Polly Hancock

(left to right) Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer, Clive Lewis. Picture: PA/Jacob King/Polly Hancock/Yui Mok - Credit: PA/Jacob King/Polly Hancock/Yui Mok

A Norwich MP echoed criticism of former shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey’s sacking from the Labour front bench as “a loss for our party”.

Mrs Long-Bailey was removed from the shadow cabinet on Thursday after sharing an article which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said contained an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”.

She retweeted an interview by The Independent with the actress Maxine Peake, which included a quote claiming the tactics used by police in the US, “kneeling on George Floyd’s neck” were learnt from “Israeli secret services”.

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Former leadership rival Mrs Long-Bailey later said she did not agree with “all aspects of the article” but did not take down her original retweet, which said: “Maxine is an absolute diamond.”

Ms Peake has since said she was “inaccurate” and found “racism and anti-Semitism abhorrent”.

Labour MP Clive Lewis shared colleague Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome’s statement on Mrs Long-Bailey’s sacking.

She said: “Her departure from the front bench is a loss for our party, particularly at a time when she was very effectively holding the government to account over its multiple failures in education during the coronavirus crisis.”

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It comes after Sir Keir pledged a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and vowed to “tear out this poison by its roots” on his election as leader.

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And Norwich South MP Mr Lewis also tweeted: “I think a lot of us will now be carefully watching how this ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to racism unfolds.

“Especially in terms of our shadow foreign and immigration policy - given what we all now know about structural racism.”

The Independent said Israeli police denied the allegation, but linked to a disputed Amnesty USA article about officers receiving training from Israeli officials. But Amnesty International clarified its report did not show evidence of “neck kneeling” being taught by Israel, or that the force responsible for the killing of Mr Floyd had been trained by them.

The Independent later clarified that the claim was “unfounded”.

The interview with Silk actress Ms Peake also called for the “overthrow of capitalism” and said Sir Keir was a “more acceptable face of the Labour party for people who aren’t really left-wing”.

Mr Lewis is understood to have shared his concerns with Sir Keir, who spoke with MPs, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, about the sacking on Friday.

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