Andy Richardson: Starmer shows steel over Long-Bailey retweet

A few short months ago, Rebecca Long-Bailey was hoping to follow her political soulmate Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Britain’s official Opposition.

Rebecca Long-Bailey
Rebecca Long-Bailey

She was initially installed as favourite, the continuity candidate who would lead Labour’s left-wing to years more in exile, sorry, to power.

Now, she finds herself resigned to the back benches. Her crime? Retweeting an article featuring the actress Maxine Peake.

Peake is a remarkable actress and an ardent campaigner. However, she made an assumption about the training of American police, linking that to Israel. Subsequently, she accepted she had been inaccurate in doing so, though for Long-Bailey, that admission came too late.

While Peake and Long-Bailey both moved to distance themselves from anti-Semitism, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer acted immediately, asking his former leadership rival to stand down.

Showing the steel missing from other political parties, he was willing to incur the wrath of his party’s left wing in order to close down allegations of anti-Semitism. Don’t cross the former Director of Public Prosecutions, was the message.

Sir Keir hasn’t been spotted at any of the UK’s over-crowded beaches this week; he’s too busy being his party’s no-nonsense headmaster. However, he will have watched in dismay as tens of thousands of people have flouted social distancing regulations and overwhelmed beauty spots around the UK.

The nation’s brilliant chief medical advisor Professor Chris Whitty, a man who has subtly diverged from the Government on numerous occasions, has been clear on the effects of overcrowded beaches; such behaviour will lead to an increase of Covid-19 cases.

More Covid-19 coverage:

It’s not just those flocking for a paddle and the chance to overhear the conversations of strangers who are responsible. Political protesters, football fans celebrating Liverpool’s brilliant triumph and others will all contribute to a rise in cases.

The Government long since lost the dressing room, and a significant minority of people are behaving as they wish. When cases spike, they will not be able to say they were not warned.

There is no effective app to assist in such control, though Germany seems to have got its app together. Apparently, it uses open-source software, so were we not fixated on leaving the EU we could observe what they’ve done and pretty much copy it. Don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

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