On 1st May 2019, it was reported that, after it had emerged that then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had written the foreword to a reissue of J.A. Hobson’s 1902 work, Imperialism: A Study — in which the author cast the blame for great wars on the Rothschilds and their control of the media — describing the book as “correct and prescient”, Ms Long Bailey had defended him.
On 5th January 2020, it was reported that Ms Long Bailey was said to have voted against the adoption by the Labour Party of the International Definition of Antisemitism in 2018, opting instead to back the infamous “code” that was floated by Party insiders as an alternative to the Definition in order to dilute it.
On 6th January 2020, it was reported that Ms Long Bailey had attended a constituency meeting with a Jewish group, at which it was reported that she “showed very little awareness of issues which were clearly important to the audience”.
On 8th January 2020, it was reported that Ms Long Bailey had been accused of “staggering hypocrisy” by several fellow MPs, with regard to the Party’s record of dealing with antisemitism, having given an interview to ITV News in which she praised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and gave him a score of “10 out of 10”.
On 24th February 2020, at a rally in Liverpool during her bid to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Long Bailey failed to challenge an audience member who claimed that it was Tom Watson, John Mann and Dame Margaret Hodge, whom he described as “members of the Israeli lobby”, who had “prevented Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.”
[On 25th June 2020, the article in  went through numerous iterations, in the earliest of which, Ms Peake’s words apparently passed without comment from the author.
A second version subsequently appeared in which parentheses had been added, stating: “Though a spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied [that American police learned the technique used to kill George Floyd in Israel], a 2016 Amnesty International report said that hundreds of law enforcement officers had travelled to Israel for training.”
In a subsequent iteration (apparently issued at around 12:30), the parenthetical statement was amended to say: “A spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this, stating that ‘there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway’.” An editorial correction was also issued, stating: “A previous version of this article reported that a 2016 Amnesty International report had found that hundreds of US law enforcement officials had travelled to Israel for training. Our article also implied that this training could have included neck kneeling tactics. While it is true that US law enforcement officials have travelled to Israel for training, there has been no suggestion that this training involved the tactics referred to in the article. The article has been amended accordingly.”
The final version carried a further clarification which stated: “This article has been amended to further clarify that the allegation that US 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.”]
On 25th June 2020, several hours after her tweet in , Ms Long Bailey wrote: “I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”
Ms Long Bailey later issued a further clarification, writing that, although the wording of her previous tweet had been agreed in advance by the Leader’s Office, she had subsequently been instructed to remove both her original tweet and the clarification, which she declined to do. She added that she had asked to discuss the matter further with Sir Keir Starmer but claimed that “he had already made his decision”.
By mid-afternoon that day, it had been reported that Labour leader Keir Starmer had sacked Ms Long Bailey from her position as Shadow Education Secretary. A spokesperson for Sir Keir reportedly said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey [sic] to step down from the shadow cabinet. The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an anti-Semitic [sic] conspiracy theory. As Leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Anti-Semitism [sic] takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”
It was later reported that Ms Long Bailey had been told in the first instance by the Leader’s Office to remove her original tweet and apologise, but that she had issued a clarification instead. It was noted that her claim of having agreed the wording of this clarification with the Leader’s Office was disputed. It was further reported that she had received repeated requests to comply over a number of hours, but that she had continued to resist these demands.
Later that afternoon, Maxine Peake tweeted: “I feel it’s important for me to clarify that, when talking to The Independent, I was inaccurate in my assumption of American Police training & its sources. I find racism & antisemitism abhorrent & I in no way wished, nor intended, to add fodder to any views of the contrary.”
On 26th June 2020, it was reported that Keir Starmer had attended a “Zoom” meeting with the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, who were seeking the reinstatement of Ms Long Bailey. It was noted that Sir Keir had rejected their call for her to be reinstated, but that he had given them assurances that no further disciplinary action would be taken against her.
On 28th June 2020, it was reported that former Labour leader Ed Miliband had defended Sir Keir’s sacking of Ms Long Bailey, describing her action as a “significant error of judgement”, while the Shadow Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds was reported as having said: “The sharing of an anti-Semitic [sic] conspiracy theory, I’m afraid, is not something that can be ignored. If people don’t understand why that was anti-Semitic[sic] then there are a lot of resources available for people to understand and find that out. It caught my breath — I assumed perhaps it hadn’t been read and an apology forthcoming. I don’t know exactly why it is still up there on Twitter but there’s no doubt it is an anti-Semitic [sic] theory and we promised zero-tolerance, and that has to be what we practise and preach.”
On 29th June 2020, an article by Ms Long Bailey was published in The Guardian in which she wrote that she had only had “a quick read” of the article in  before she “retweeted it straight away.” Finding herself confronted by the Leader’s Office, she continued: “I explained to the leader’s office that I would never have intended to retweet or endorse anything that could cause hurt to anyone. I know how painful the issue of antisemitism has been for the Jewish community and I have been part of the efforts to eradicate it from our party.”
Ms Long Bailey went on to insist that the wording of her original clarification had been agreed with the Leader’s Office, but was later deemed insufficient, at which point she was asked to remove both the original tweet and the clarification. Ms Long Bailey further commented that she had not wanted to remove her original tweet without issuing a press statement to explain the situation, and had asked to do so, but Sir Keir Starmer had reportedly already made his decision to remove her from the Shadow Cabinet.
Ms Long Bailey continued: “It was a mess, and an avoidable one. Of course I take responsibility for my own actions. Would I have retweeted the article knowing some of its contents would cause hurt? No of course not.”
On 29th June 2020, Sir Keir Starmer was questioned about Ms Long Bailey’s sacking and stated: “I took the view that the article Rebecca Long Bailey tweeted about was classic antisemitic [sic] in the sense of saying ‘here’s something awful that happened in America, [now] point the finger at Israel’. Rebecca didn’t delete the tweet she’d put up and I took the action that I did…I’m absolutely clear that it was the right thing to do.”
On 30th June 2020, Ms Long Bailey finally deleted her original tweet.
On 1st July 2020, it was reported that, in a question-and-answer session with Scottish journalists, Sir Keir Starmer had said: “I asked Rebecca Long Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet for sharing the article. I didn’t do that because she is antisemitic, I did it because she shared the article which has got, in my view, antisemitic conspiracy theories in it. My primary focus is on rebuilding trust with the Jewish communities. I didn’t think sharing that article was in keeping with that primary objective.”
In view of Sir Keir’s reported assurances that Ms Long Bailey would not face further disciplinary sanctions, it is to be understood that no further action will be taken against her by the Labour Party. We note, however, that this would be at odds with Sir Keir’s stated intention to adopt an independent disciplinary process. If any such action were to be undertaken in future, the circumstances and outcomes would, in any event, remain unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by Baroness Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
In July 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to both Ms Long Bailey and the Labour Party, but did not receive a response.