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We must resist the concerted witch-hunt on the Labour left

Long Bailey’s sacking is an attack on anyone who stands up for Palestine, says SWETA CHOUDHURY

THE sacking of Rebecca Long Bailey is a damning indictment of the Labour right. 

By ditching her from the front benches, Keir Starmer has declared a formal war on the left of the party and has shifted the meaning of anti-semitism from a hatred of Jews to any criticism of Israel. 

The move came after Long Bailey shared an article that referred to Israeli forces training US police — something beyond doubt and fairly well documented. 

As journalist Mark Seddon rightly points out: “Amnesty International has chronicled links between the IDF and US police departments. 

“Since when has it been anti-semitic to point out this truth?” 

The beginning of this anti-left war was evident when Starmer accepted a £50,000 donation from a pro-Israeli lobbyist during his leadership campaign earlier this year, the facts of which were not disclosed until the election results were out. 

Not only did it reflect a lack of transparency, but it also signalled a deflection from the pro-Palestine and anti-war movement. 

Starmer’s previous apparent support for the Palestinian cause certainly looks more like a campaigning tactic to win the trust of Corbyn supporters than support for justice in Palestine. 

Starmer, in true McCarthyist fashion, has set out to rid the party of Corbynistas. 

He always distanced himself from Corbyn and consistently criticised him. 

Starmer knows full well that Corbyn is not an anti-semite, but in order to get rid of the left, he has been willing to promote the anti-semitism witch-hunt against Corbyn and his supporters. 

Now that he is leader, he has one agenda — to destroy the left within the party and bring an end to Corbyn’s hard-fought socialist and anti-war policies. 

Just like New Labour under Tony Blair, he wants to reposition Labour, and part of that is a commitment to championing Israel. 

As Israel moves towards illegally annexing parts of the West Bank with the backing of Donald Trump and possibly Boris Johnson, Starmer has very shrewdly managed to silence the voice that would have stood up against it. 

Starmer’s cynical sacking of Long Bailey has deeply shocked Corbyn-supporting Labour members, many of whom are committed to the Palestinian cause. 

It will not be any surprise if there’s a mass exodus because his promotion of witch-hunting of supporters of Palestine is incompatible with the socialist values of the majority of the membership who would be shredding their membership cards by now. 

Starmer’s performance so far as Labour leader has also been pathetic. 

Far from being an effective opposition, Labour under Starmer has been completely useless in responding to the crises emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and has failed to call out the government on its mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. 

His long silence on key issues such as the reopening of schools, risking the lives of millions of children, teachers and key workers, is testimony to the fact that he doesn’t give a toss about the working people of this country. 

Moreover, his disappointing reaction to the toppling of the statue of a slave trader in Bristol during the anti-racism protests organised by the Black Lives Matter movement is another testimony of his failure to stand up for the rights of the oppressed. 

The sense of solidarity that is needed during testing times like these has sadly and unfortunately gone with Corbyn. 

Starmer’s complete disregard for Long Bailey’s fantastic work on the Green Industrial Revolution, and the protection of teachers and their unions during the pandemic shows his real colours: he wants to distance himself and Labour from the left unions. 

His actions are an utter disgrace and a sign of weak leadership. By setting this precedent, he has only confirmed that there is a witch-hunt taking in place in Labour. 

This attack on Long Bailey is an attack on anyone who stands up for Palestine, advocates universal rights, opposes racism and upholds the principles of equality. We must resist it.

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