Momentum chief sends stern warning to Keir Starmer over ‘reckless’ sacking of Long-Bailey

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Jon Lansman, the founder of the pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum, said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer needs to “build trust” with the left of the party after he sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said “divided parties do not win elections” adding that he still has “every confidence” that Sir Keir can maintain party unity, but it will be much harder now.

He added: “Keir wanted to include the other candidates from the leadership election… which was quite right, but what he’s now done is sacked the leading left opponent in that election.

“And in order to unite the party he’s got to build trust, across the party, trust from the left.

“That’s one of the ingredients necessary if you are going to reunite the party and from what he’s done he’s made it much harder for himself.”

But Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Also speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “I think it’s an awful situation and Rebecca Long-Bailey’s response was pathetic.

“As someone who aspired to be an education secretary she would be expected to read and understand materials – and that doesn’t make Maxine Peake’s position acceptable or not – she should be fully aware as well of what she was saying.”

She added: “Keir Starmer has made a very good start, we said, on tackling anti-Semitism in the party.

“We had a meeting with him only last Friday and we have made it clear that we judge what he does, what his actions are.

“And in this case, he’s absolutely acted decisively and has taken very swift action and it’s very reassuring to the Jewish community.”

Ms Long-Bailey, who was branded the “continuity Corbyn” candidate in the recent leadership battle, was sacked after she shared an article on social media which Sir Keir claimed expressed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

In the article, actor Maxine Peake said police linked to the death of George Floyd in the US had learned their tactics from the Israeli secret services.

The claim has been denied by Israel, and Ms Peake later said it was wrong.

Ms Long-Bailey, who said she did not endorse all aspects of the article, acknowledged that the claim had caused “extreme concern” but said politicians should speak out on issues such as claims of police brutality.

She told the Daily Mirror: “There is a valid concern about police practices across the world and I don’t think that, worded in the right way, it’s racist or anti-Semitic to draw attention to that.”

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As leading left-wing figures in the party spoke out about the sacking of Ms Long-Bailey, the Salford and Eccles MP said Sir Keir needed to live up to his leadership campaign promises of bringing Labour together.

Ms Long-Bailey said: “I completely agree with the need for us to intensively rebuild our relationship with the Jewish community and the wider electorate. I can understand the difficulties of Keir’s position.

“Whilst we don’t agree on everything, we agree on the need for a Labour government and I’ll still do everything I possibly can to make sure that happens.

“The only way that we’ll win a general election is by being unified as a party that’s why it’s so important for me to make the choice not to be critical about the way I might have been treated.”

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