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P
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June 29, 2020

Ed Miliband backs Long-Bailey sacking

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P
Pa
June 29, 2020

LONDON: Ed Miliband has denied a leadership purge against the Labour left, as he backed the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey over an anti-Semitism row.

The shadow business secretary said Sir Keir Starmer is “not about purges” but is trying to stop Labour being “mired” in issues which are a “stain” on the party. Miliband was joined by shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds in defending Labour leader Sir Keir’s decision, which has prompted a backlash from those on the left of the party.

Reynolds said he “gasped” when he saw that Ms Long-Bailey had shared online an article by actress Maxine Peake containing an allegedly anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Ms Long-Bailey lost her post as shadow education secretary after refusing to take down a tweet linking to the interview in which Ms Peake claimed police linked to the death of George Floyd in the US had learned their tactics from the Israeli secret services.

Sir Keir said he had acted in order to rebuild trust with the Jewish community after years in which Labour has been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

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.

Miliband said Ms Long-Bailey is a “very decent person” and he does not believe she is anti-Semitic. He also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The problem is that, over the centuries, when calamitous things have happened, Jews have been blamed and that’s why there was an anti-Semitism issue in relation to this, and that’s why I believe Keir took the right decision.”

Miliband said “nothing is going to be done about him” when told about McDonnell’s show of support for Ms Long-Bailey over the issue.

He went on: “I heard something in your paper review about how Keir wants to purge these people; he’s not about purges, I know the guy. He’s a principled guy, he’s a guy with integrity, he wants to change this country and he wants to change this country by unifying the Labour Party but also not having the Labour Party mired in issues which, frankly, provide a stain on us.”

Told it was not zero-tolerance to remove Ms Long-Bailey from her post but leave others in the party who say they “stand in solidarity” with her, Miliband said Sir Keir is not going to “expel everybody in the Labour Party who says this”.

Miliband said Labour MPs on the left should help fight the Conservatives, replying “No, of course it isn’t” when asked if a wider purge is to take place.

Fellow frontbencher Reynolds told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “If people don’t understand why that was anti-Semitic then there are a lot of resources available for people to understand and find that out.

“We deserve no more chances with the Jewish community to win back trust that has been lost and Keir promised zero-tolerance – that has to mean zero-tolerance and, for that reason, yes, I’m afraid that change had to be made.”