‘Look at my actions’: Keir Starmer appeals to Jewish community after Long-Bailey ‘antisemitism’ sacking
- Credit: PA
Holborn and St Pancras’ MP Sir Keir Starmer has urged the Jewish community “to look at the steps I’m taking” following the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet for sharing what he called an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
The Labour Party leader said the former shadow education secretary was “wrong” to retweet an article by Maxine Peake in The Independent where she claimed the kneeling on George Floyd’s neck was a technique “learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services”.
Starmer said the party’s new general secretary David Evans, who starts on Monday (June 29), knows antisemitism is a “top priority”.
As part of an interview published in next week’s Ham&High, Starmer said: “I took a view of that article, and that Rebecca shouldn’t have put that tweet up.
“It was the wrong thing to do and I took the decision that she should step down from the shadow cabinet.”
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After Long-Bailey’s sacking, Starmer said Labour “still had a long way to go” to “tear out anti-Semitism by its roots” - an issue which blighted the party under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn and which Starmer promised to tackle in his election victory video.
Directly addressing this newspaper’s Jewish readers, he said: “Look at the steps I’m taking, give me the space to do what I need to do.
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“But I absolutely understand the scale of the task and that rebuilding trust is going to take a long time.”
Starmer said he was “determined” to make changes so that the Labour Party and antisemitism are “never in the same sentence again”.
He continued: “I never want anybody in Camden Labour, in my constituency, or any constituency across the country, to ever have to knock on a door again and be met by the response of ‘I would vote Labour but I won’t because of antisemitism’.”
On whether he would pressure local councils to apply the same treatment as Long-Bailey for elected representatives who fall foul of antisemitism, Starmer said: “Labour councillors and members have got very clear roles on antisemitism and what I’m trying to ensure is that the processes within the party for dealing with it are robust, effective and quick – and I’m making changes there.
“I’ve obviously had the opportunity to appoint a new general secretary of the Labour Party [David Evans].
“He starts on Monday and he knows one of my top priorities is making sure that our systems of dealing with antisemitism are quick and effective.”
Starmer said another priority of his was The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.
He said it will be published “in the coming weeks or months”.