U.K. Labour Leader Sacks Education Spokeswoman for Sharing Article With 'Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory'

Rebecca Long-Bailey, who came second in Labour's leadership race, tweeted an article alleging that Israel taught U.S. police knee chokes, the technique that killed George Floyd

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British Labour politician Rebecca Long-Bailey at an event in Manchester, north west England, January 17, 2020.
British Labour politician Rebecca Long-Bailey at an event in Manchester, north west England, January 17, 2020.Credit: Oli SCARFF / AFP

The new leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, sacked his shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey on Thursday after she shared an article online which included a reference to what he called an "antisemitic conspiracy theory".

Starmer, who won election as the party's leader earlier this year, has pledged to stamp out antisemitism in Labour after his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights, was repeatedly criticized for failing to do so.

Long-Bailey had tweeted an Independent article written about British actress and anti-capitalist activist Maxine Peake writing "Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond." 

In the story, Peake alleges that "the tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” 

"The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory," a spokesperson for Starmer said. "As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority."

After Long-Bailey was fired, The Independent added an amendment that "this article has been amended to further clarify that the allegation that U.S. police were taught tactics of “neck kneeling” by Israeli secret services is unfounded. The original version did carry a denial from Israeli police, however we are happy to further clarify the matter."

Long-Bailey, a Corbyn ally who came second to Starmer in the leadership race, said by sharing the article on Twitter, she was not endorsing "every part of the article" and that she had issued a clarification, which had been agreed with the party, after being made aware of people's concerns.

"I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision," she said, adding she would continue to support the party in parliament under Starmer's leadership.

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