Momentum Founder: "Keir Starmer made a big mistake sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey"

25 June 2020, 21:25 | Updated: 25 June 2020, 22:55

Momentum Chair: "Keir Starmer made a big mistake sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey"

By Fiona Jones

Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum and director of Rebecca Long-Bailey's leadership campaign, told Iain Sir Keir Starmer's decision to sack the Shadow Education Secretary was "very bad judgement."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet after she shared an article about actor Maxine Peake containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, the party has said.

"I think he's made a big mistake here," Mr Lansman said, "Sir Keir was elected to end factionalism...and I think he's made it harder for himself to unite the party."

He said Rebecca Long-Bailey is just as committed to ending anti-Semitism within the party "as he and I are."

"What he did do effectively was condemn Maxine Peake, a national treasure, for anti-Semitism and he did that without telling her the charges, without any application of the principles of natural justice, without allowing her to respond which is how a Labour disciplinary panel would expect this to have been dealt with.

"I find it very surprising that a lawyer and former DPP should act with such disregard for natural justice."

The article focused on actor Maxine Peake's strong support of Jeremy Corbyn and Iain asked if Sir Keir was in some part punishing Rebecca Long-Bailey for this, to which the Momentum chair disagreed.

"She was also very supportive of Keir in the article and she made that very clear and said how important she thought it was for Labour to win and she would back Keir in doing that. That also makes it worse," Mr Lansman said, accusing the Labour leader of also "trashing" actor Maxine Peake's reputation.

Mr Lansman stressed that he supports the Labour leader wholeheartedly and calls him to unite the party.

"I'm afraid he's made that task, which he set himself, much harder."

Iain pointed out that the move has also diverted attention away from Robert Jenrick's controversial planning decisions.

Mr Lansman agreed, "Keir hasn't had time to call for Robert Jenrick to be sacked and yet he sacks someone in his own Shadow Cabinet rather than unite the party. Someone who was just as committed as him to defeating anti-Semitism."

The Momentum chair emphasised that the Labour leader "has to win back the trust of the left of the party including that bit of the left that voted for him because they won't be happy with this."

In a statement, the Labour party said: "This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long Bailey to step down from the Shadow Cabinet.

"The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

"As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we are all vigilant against it."