by Martin Odoni

Rebecca Long-Bailey is the latest high-profile figure in the Labour Party to be stitched up by the hysterical “anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party” witch-hunt. The new Labour leader, Keir Starmer, once again leaving no one in any doubt as to his true right wing nature, today fired her from the Shadow Cabinet. His pretext for doing so was that she had shared on her Twitter feed an article propagating an ‘anti-Semitic conspiracy theory’. The real reason is almost certainly that Starmer and Long-Bailey were at loggerheads over the Tory decision to reopen schools while the death-rate from the CoVid-19 Coronavirus remains worryingly high. As Shadow Education Secretary, Long-Bailey, rightly, was bitterly opposed; the infection rate in schools has doubled. Starmer, “Leader of the Opposition” (HAH!) for the umpteenth time wanted to back the Government, albeit cautiously and with provisos.

The article Long-Bailey shared was an interview with actress-and-activist, Maxine Peake. In it, Peake painted an accurately-miserable picture of the Conservative Government’s incompetence and maliciousness, which were the aspects Long-Bailey was endorsing. But she also implicated the security forces of Israel in the murder in the USA of George Floyd. Peake was saying, accurately, that Israel trains the security forces of all sorts of inappropriate regimes globally, and suggested that the knee-to-the-throat hold that closed off Floyd’s windpipe was taught to the Minneapolis Police by Israeli ‘corporal punishment experts’ (to put it euphemistically).

That Israel is happy to teach such techniques is factually correct, although its security services have denied teaching the Minneapolis Police this particular one, and I am unable to verify that one way or the other. But the simple fact that it is consistent with standard Israeli practice still does not say good things about the Jerusalem Government.

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. On that note, if he really believes anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, Starmer really needs to explain this; –

Starmer calls to boycott Israel

A few years back, Starmer was a guest speaker at an event calling for Israel to be boycotted over its siege of Gaza. Now he fires his Shadow Education Secretary for sharing a tweet criticising Israel. Funny ol’ world, eh?

Yes, Long-Bailey has been stitched up, and she is not guilty of anti-Semitism in any way. But nonetheless, just this once, I feel little sympathy. The reason is that she has been one of the Labour Party MPs who have been routinely trying to appease opponents who are unappeasable, only encouraging the witch-hunt to get worse, and even sacrificed allies in the hope that the opponents would be satisfied with one or two sacrificial lambs.

Long-Bailey was in fact my local MP between spring 2015 and autumn 2017, and I know her personally from various events, including the 2016 launch event for Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader, various May Day marches at Bexley Square (next to Salford Cathedral), and several party meetings. When she first took over as the candidate for the Salford & Eccles Constituency Labour Party from Hazel Blears, I had high hopes for her as a strong, more-left-wing presence. She would often mention in speeches and conversations how passionately she hated Margaret Thatcher, how she could not forgive the Tories for the way they destroyed industries across Scotland, Wales and the north of England, and left communities gutted and abandoned. “Two drinks in me,” she boasted in one May Day speech, “and I’ll be swearing and snarling about Thatcher all night long!” (Or words to that effect.) Sadly, from several conversations I had with Long-Bailey, I realised she lacked ‘political antennae’. She did not really understand some political issues as well as I had thought she did, nor did she often realise when the right wing of the party were manipulating her. I and others in the local party would try desperately to hint to her that she should not to trust right wing officials in the constituency, nor the pseudo-leftist control freak, Jon Lansman, who increasingly took her under his wing after the 2017 General Election. But she seemed to distrust us instead.

When I was suspended from the Labour Party for supposed anti-Semitism (me! A Jew! Suspended for anti-Semitism!), I noted that Long-Bailey was quick to break any points-of-contact she had with me – I must emphasise that there were not many anyway, we were only occasional acquaintances after all, but it was still noticeable. But the point at which I could no longer forgive her was last summer, when Chris Williamson, who should have been her most natural ally in the entire Parliamentary Labour Party, saw his membership suspended on the most feeble grounds imaginable. If Long-Bailey were truly the firebrand leftist she claimed to be, she would have defended Williamson to the hilt. Instead, she joined in demands for his expulsion – in effect, throwing him under the metaphorical bus.

Now, Starmer has pushed her into the busy traffic in turn. Chris Williamson himself has certainly noticed. I assume his getting Long-Bailey’s initials in the wrong order was not deliberate, but I would not blame him if it was a calculated insult; –

But Williamson’s point is all-too-correct. This is what happens when you keep throwing your friends to the lions in the hope that they will be too full before they get around to you. No chance. The lions will just wait until they get their appetite back, and then devour you anyway.

What Starmer has done to Long-Bailey is therefore, paradoxically, wrong, but not unjust.