Long-Bailey failed to push for tougher action on anti-Semitism – Thornberry

Emily Thornberry has claimed her shadow cabinet colleague Rebecca Long-Bailey failed to push for tougher action on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

During a tense moment in a Labour leadership debate, the shadow foreign secretary said she and Sir Keir Starmer had called for the shadow cabinet to be more involved in tackling the party’s anti-Semitism problem.

But Ms Thornberry claimed she did not “remember” shadow business secretary Ms Long-Bailey doing the same.

Speaking during BBC Newsnight’s televised hustings, Ms Thornberry said: “I think it would be right to say that the record shows that I have regularly called out anti-Semitism in my party.

Labour leadership contest
Labour leadership contest

“It also should be said that Keir and I were both in the shadow cabinet and would regularly, the two of us, call for regular reports to the shadow cabinet.”

Asked whether she was “saying Rebecca didn’t” demand such a role for leader Jeremy Corbyn’s top team, Ms Thornberry added: “No, I don’t think Rebecca did, but Keir and I did.”

In a terse exchange during the 50-minute debate, Ms Long-Bailey responded: “I did, I think you’ll find.”

But Ms Thorberry added: “Sorry, I don’t remember.”

Ms Long-Bailey said she would sign up to the 10 pledges on tackling anti-Semitism that had been set by the Board of Deputies of British Jews if she becomes leader.

“As leader I will be signing up to the 10 pledges. I would expect my shadow cabinet and all those within it, all our members and MPs within Parliament to follow my lead on that,” she added.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir added: “If you’re not prepared to fight anti-Semitism, you shouldn’t be in the shadow cabinet.”

Lisa Nandy, the only backbencher left in the race, said there should be “no one in the Labour Party that doesn’t defend the right of Israel to exist”.

The Wigan MP also criticised the scale of Labour’s nationalisation plans in the last manifesto, saying “we can’t nationalise everything”.

She said: “One of the things we did in the last election was we made promises we simply couldn’t keep.

“We cannot go round as a party making promises to nationalise everything, to slash or get rid of tuition fees but we hadn’t got a clue how we would do it and how we would pay for it.

“People are smarter than that. We have to be honest with them.”

During the programme, all four candidates stated that they remained committed to scrapping university tuition fees and renationalising the water and electricity industries – pledges that were in the 2019 Labour manifesto.

But they jointly rowed back on scrapping private schools and introducing a four day week, two other controversial policies put forward during Mr Corbyn’s leadership.