Should Rebecca Long Bailey have gone?

I’m not at all sure she should have. Yet I imagine Keir Starmer thinks she will imperil his progress to sort out anti-semitism in the Labour Party.

I have to say that to me it looks as though the Labour Party was completely dysfunctional when – and even when there was not – that anti-semitism crisis. Corbyn was not by any measure anti-semitic but people in Labour Party central office were determined to suggest he might be – just as it seems in fact they were…

Now surely less so.

So I would have thought that Rebecca Long Bailey should have simply apologised profusely.

If I understand correctly, she refused to.

So either Keir Starmer dug in – or indeed they both did.


But should it have been headlines on BBC news when Jenerick looks to be corrupt – unhelped by Nadim Zehawri saying anyone could come to a Conservative dinner to argue their planning case!

I certainly understand Starmer’s desire to shut up any problems – but why on earth did Rebecca Long Bailey refuse to apologise?

And importantly why was this headline news, rather than an addendum, on the BBC?

Surely a corrupt planning decision was of far more consequence?


  1. Andrew Dickie -

    Interesting to compare your take on this, Peter, with Richard Murphy’s


    Personally, I’m more with you on this, as Starmer rates pretty low in my estimation, but it will be interesting to see what comments come back to your post, as compared with those in response to Richard Murphy’s.

    Final point, on the small element of Maxine Peake’s article that was deemed antisemitic, when it was surely anti-Israel, which in my book are two separate things.

    The second point is, what about the responsibility of the newspaper? I thought sub-editors had the task of scanning text for publication, not just for quality (obviously), butcalso for possible libel, defamation, and, of course, antisemitism, or any other racism.

    Clearly, the sub-editor either overlooked this, or thought it too insignificant to ask Maxine Peake to remove from her interview. But some blame must attach to the publisher, if blame there is.

    But meanwhile we are left with a pretty strange situation of needing to subject anything we write to minute scrutiny, in case someone might construe it as racist.

    Of course we must ensure that we don’t libel or defame anyone, or any group of people or country, and certainly that we don’t indulge in any racist expression.

    But I am really very unsure that that happened in this case. Indeed, I have heard people say, Martin Odoni, for example (see:
    sympathy/) that

    Once again, anti-Semitism is used as a pretext to silence Israel’s critics. Insodoing, Starmer is guilty of conflating ‘Jews’ with ‘Israel’, and therefore implicates Jews in everything Israel does. That means, please note, that Starmer is guilty of anti-Semitism, by the very same IHRA definition he himself is trying to exploit.”

    Well, I wait responses to your post (and my comment) with interest.

    1. Peter May -

      Thanks for the links!
      I also think that expulsion from the shadow cabinet for retweeting a link to an allegedly anti-semiticarticle, which as you say looks more anti-Israel, is pretty thin grounds so maybe it was simply a plausible excuse…

  2. Bill Hughes -

    I think Starmer was right, if he had kept RLB on the Tories and their media would have a field day and would never let Labout live it down. One can agonise about the various pieces in the article she admired but any hint of some sort of Jewish conspiracy is completely toxic such as suggesting the death of George Floyd was the result of Israeli government influence on US police methods. The same with Ken Livingston, he should have backed off or apologised even though on other issues he was pretty good.

  3. Paul Wright -

    It will be interesting to see Starmers view on the looming annexation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government?

    As Andrew points out, the Israeli Government will probably conflate antisemitism with protest against their actions. What will Starmer say?
    Whatever it is, he will be media condemned.

    This will run and run, the tabloids will use this stick on Starmer just as they did for Corbyn, Bill alludes to this. Not a word mind about Baroness Warsi and racism within the Tory party.

    This all rather familiar and depressing, I really do despise our totally unobjective right facing media.

    Thanks for the Blog Peter, Sean, Charles et al.

  4. A. Pessimist -

    Peter, what should she have apologised for? Falling into a trap? Never mind that “apologising” profusely and endlessly never worked for Corbyn or any of the other targets (who he abandoned).

    A quick look online shows that Peake’s criticism of Israel in relation to BLM is only repeating comment already made elsewhere in respectable media, including in the US;

    It’s depressing that RLB, Peake, The Independent and even Amnesty International have all been pretty spineless and attempted weaselly backtracking.

    I suspect that even a Machiavellian Starmer has no way of escaping the AS weapon other than complete surrender. As Paul says, it’ll be interesting to see his response to the annexation.

    1. Peter May -

      I think she should just have apologised for any misunderstanding – on her part of that of anyone else – and then moved on. I don’t think anyone at all is seriously suggesting RLB is an anti-semite.
      I also agree that complete surrender against AS is the end in view for a particular faction and sacking RLB is a step further on that road. Apologies would I’d have thought done the trick – it was only a tweet and she’s not Donald Trump!

  5. Michael G -

    I have been a long-standing supporter of Amnesty International, whose 2016 publication may have precipitated the whole RLB/Maxine Peake affair. A look at their UK website makes interesting reading.

    “Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2019
    Israel continued to impose institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians living under its rule in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Israeli forces killed 38 Palestinians, including 11 children, during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank; many were unlawfully killed while posing no imminent threat to life. Israel failed to ensure accountability and redress for victims of such grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Israeli air strikes and shelling in the Gaza Strip killed 28 Palestinian civilians who were not directly participating in hostilities, including 10 children. Israel maintained its illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip, subjecting its residents to collective punishment and deepening the humanitarian crisis there. It continued to restrict freedom of movement of Palestinians in the OPT through checkpoints and roadblocks. Israeli authorities unlawfully detained in Israel thousands of Palestinians from the OPT, holding hundreds in administrative detention without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, were committed with impunity. Israel displaced over 900 Palestinians in the West Bank as a result of home demolitions. The authorities used a range of measures to target human rights defenders, journalists and others who criticized Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights. The authorities denied asylum-seekers access to a fair or prompt refugee status determination process. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.”

    Clearly fitting the agreed definition of antisemitism. I cannot imagine any Labour politician saying these things and surviving. In the current climate, Amnesty needs to be a lot more careful in choosing which abuses of human rights to oppose.

    My question is whether support for Amnesty is inconsistent with membership of the Labour Party.

    1. Peter May -

      I rather agree – that is a possibility.
      Particularly when everyone equates AS with criticism of the Israeli government.
      Much as criticism of Johnson’s government was taken to be unpatriotic and anti-British. When in fact it was the reverse!

  6. Kevin Mason -

    If it got out that the SAS were being trained by the KGB, would the outcry be about collusion with commie Russian thugs or would it be taken as criticism of Orthodoxy Russian Christians? The case for differentiation twixt states and religion needs making. By Starmer. Forcefully.

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