Ed Miliband has endorsed the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey for retweeting an article linking George Floyd’s killing to Israel, while defending her as a “very decent person”‘
The shadow business secretary 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 antisemitism issue in relation to this, and that’s why I believe Keir took the right decision.”
Long-Bailey is yet to delete the tweet praising Maxine Peake that saw her sacked, but Miliband said he did not think she was antisemitic but made a “significant error of judgement”. He said: “The problem about the interview – and I’ve met Maxine Peake, who I think is a perfectly decent person and she’s apologised, and I think that’s significant – was it’s the casualness of it, that is in the way the problem.
“A terrible thing happens to George Floyd and the Israeli defence force is somehow singled out. I think Britain has had exchanges with American police forces but Britain wasn’t singled out.”
Long-Bailey is yet to delete the tweet praising Maxine Peake that saw her sacked
The former party leader also denied a purge is taking place against the Labour left. He said “nothing is going to be done about him” when told former shadow chancellor John McDonnell had expressed solidarity with party colleague Rebecca Long-Bailey over the issue.
Miliband also told Marr: “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 Starmer 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.
Also on Sunday, Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said Starmer was right to sack Long-Bailey. On Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme he said: “Yes, the sharing of an antisemitic conspiracy theory, I’m afraid, is not something that can be ignored. If people don’t understand why that was antisemitic 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.”