Long-Bailey Sacking: Starmer’s ‘Fuck You’ to Unions Over Covid

The sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey (left) as Shadow Education Secretary by Keir Starmer, on the most transparent and absurd pretext about ‘anti-Semitism’, is driven by domestic politics, not by any even feeble opposition to Zionism by Long-Bailey. RLB not only signed up for the ’10 Commandments’ of the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews during the leadership election in the spring, but she also declared herself a ‘Zionist’ at the Jewish Labour Movement’s hustings; even Starmer did not do that.

The reference in Maxine Peake’s article, which RLB shared, to Israel training US cops in methods of brutalising people, is simply true. There is much evidence of Israel using the knee-on-neck hold that was used to murder George Floyd. The Jewish Virtual Library has published a detailed account of collaboration between Israeli and US police since 9/11, including in the occupied territories. For example:

“A diverse group of 52 law enforcement officers from 12 U.S. states visited Israel and participated in joint training sessions with their Israeli counterparts during September 2017. This program, known as the Police Unity Tour, has been held periodically since 1997.”


 The idea that this is a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ trope is risible. A similar knee-on-neck technique is used by Israel, part of Krav Maga, an arsenal of physical techniques that are made for policing a subjugated population (photo).

Krav Maga is a salient issue: the 2017 Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which exposed Zionist activities in the witchhunt, showed Ella Rose, director of the Jewish Labour Movement, fantasising about using Krav Maga against Jackie Walker. George Floyd’s murder highlights her sociopathic fantasy of a murderous act against a black grandmother.

This is really about the Covid-19 Pandemic, with credible reports of a conflict between Long-Bailey, close to the teachers’ unions who have campaigned to defend health and safety by opposing the premature re-opening of schools,  and Starmer, competing with Johnson for the favour of the Tory media and backing the reckless reopening of schools to ‘get the economy moving again’.

Starmer is waging war on the left:  threats and reprimands against left-wing Black MP’s Diane Abbott and Bell Ribiero-Addy for attending a Zoom event at which purged Labour Party members, such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker, spoke ‘from the floor’. Its clear from the protests of numerous leading trade unionists that RLB’s sacking is seen as an attack on trade unions.

 Long-Bailey cravenly capitulated, but she was still seen as the ‘continuity Corbynite’ candidate by some. She got 135,218 votes for the leadership, slightly less than half of Starmer. But more did not vote than voted for Starmer; many correctly refused to support Long-Bailey as she had joined the witchhunt. Only a minority of left-wing members could bring themselves to vote for her.

A genuine left candidate could have defeated Starmer. But the process was rigged by the PLP who still largely control nominations. The one left-of-Corbyn MP, Chris Williamson, was hounded out, which made certain that there would be no genuine left candidate. Starmer wants to consolidate his position by driving out that membership.

There is talk of a leadership challenge from people like Ian Lavery who failed to challenge Starmer in the spring.  Others are talking about running Richard Burgon, who ran for deputy leader previously. He did not dare challenge for leader which is itself telling. Quite why they would succeed in getting the parliamentary support to do this now is not clear, particularly as the thresholds are more difficult to meet than where there is a vacancy for leader. 

If the unions were to seriously back a challenge Starmer might be under threat. But it is not wise to hold your breath since it was the trade union bureaucracy that played the decisive role in ramming the IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ though the Labour Party’s structures. At this point, to overturn Starmer, it would be necessary to overturn the bureaucracy that put him there.

Realising the unlikelihood of a challenge, left wing members have been tearing up their cards and looking to found a new left-wing party. Chris Williamson’s Festival of Resistance does appear the most viable initiative in train to do this, though it has been projected cautiously as an attempt to build a grassroots socialist movement, leaving open becoming a party. A party is needed, to rally the disillusioned, angry forces that originally rallied behind Corbyn, build a genuine socialist movement that can really challenge capital, and not least to exert the kind of pressure on Labour from outside that could stop the right-wing running riot and bring about a decisive split of Labour’s working class base from the influence of the pro-capitalist bureaucracy.

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