|Cllr Kate Lewis with John McDonnell|
A Labour councillor has hit out at Rebecca Long-Bailey over the former frontbencher's response to being sacked. Cllr Kate Lewis has served as a councillor on Salford City Council since 2015 and Long-Bailey is her local MP. Despite describing herself as a 'proud socialist' and having her picture taken with John McDonnell, Cllr Lewis took the extraordinary decision to air her views in a letter published in The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday.
Her ire was not so much in response to Long-Bailey's retweeting of the Maxine Peake interview itself as it was to Long-Bailey's lack of an apology. On Monday Long-Bailey wrote an article in The Guardian in which she stated: "Of course I take responsibility for my actions". And yet she spent the first half of that article excusing herself and inferring that Starmer and/or his office shared responsibility for what she described as 'an avoidable mess'.
Cllr Lewis's letter contains the outlandish notion that the US is somehow a 'white supremacist state', a false narrative currently being played out across the Western world by leftist politicians and mainstream media to justify the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a Labour councillor in Salford and a constituent of Salford and Eccles, I could not be more disappointed in my MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and her article.
The most appropriate response to a mistake and causing hurt would be to apologise. If you know you caused hurt, sorry should not be the hardest word.
Not noticing the antisemitic section of the article she retweeted is forgivable. The explanation of doing a quick read and missing that part is something we can all empathise with. But to realise you have made an error, understand it has caused hurt and then fail to apologise or delete the tweet is unforgivable.
Associating the killing of George Floyd, by the police of a state with a 400-year history of racist oppression and white supremacist violence, with Israel was not just a criticism of the state of Israel - any more than Donald Trump’s executive order of 2017 banning entry of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries was just a criticism of those states. Yet Long-Bailey has not made it clear that she believed that section of the article to be wrong. We have a large Jewish population in Salford and they need to know what she believes, just as people like me need to know.
In her article she deflected criticism back on to the leader’s office rather than face her own failings. It should not take the leader’s office to tell you when to say sorry. Yes, this was “an avoidable mess”, but it is Long-Bailey, not the leader, who is to blame. Keir Starmer made the right decision.
I demand better of Rebecca Long-Bailey. Better understanding of the issues of antisemitism, a better response when she knows she has done wrong and, something that was completely absent from her article, a large dose of humility.
Cllr Kate Lewis