A Labour MP piles in for the BBC’s latest ludicrous attack on Rebecca Long-Bailey

Stephanie Peacock and Rebecca Long-Bailey
Support us and go ad-free

As the candidate most towards the left of Labour, leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey hasn’t received a warm welcome from the British press.


In an interview with Andrew Neil on 4 March, the BBC host launched an attack on the leadership candidate over her past (sound familiar?). Promptly, a Labour MP then jumped on the attack bandwagon (still familiar?).

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The ludicrous attack, however, did not pass unchallenged.

Enemy of the NHS?

In the interview, Neil targeted Long-Bailey over her past work at a law firm. He cited a leaflet from her 2015 election campaign, in which Long-Bailey said she was previously “a solicitor for the NHS to help defend our health service”. She clarified that she was employed in a specific department in a legal firm, which only worked with the NHS.

Neil then brought up the fact that the leadership hopeful worked on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts within her role. Long-Bailey confirmed this, explaining that – because all NHS property contracts at that time involved PFI – “you couldn’t not work on PFI”.

A Conservative government introduced PFI and then it spiralled under Tony Blair’s Labour government. It’s a deeply controversial scheme. It involved the private funding of infrastructure, such as hospitals, for public services; and the government then using public money to pay back that investment via leases and repayments to the private entities at exorbitant rates.

As such, Neil used Long-Bailey’s work on them (for the NHS, at a time when PFI schemes were compulsory) as a stick to beat her with. Essentially, his questioning painted her as someone who, rather than ‘defending’ the NHS, was complicit in selling the NHS to the highest bidder. In reality, of course, she worked for a legal firm implementing a scheme dreamed up by a government that was merrily selling the NHS to the highest bidder. There’s a difference.

This fact didn’t pass others by, however:

On the bandwagon

Labour MP Stephanie Peacock then jumped on board, taking a swipe at Long-Bailey’s defence of her work at the law firm:

But this met with swipes back in Peacock’s direction:

Indeed, some tested how far the complicity line can go for those who aren’t responsible for making policies but interact with them in their daily lives:

Grasping at straws

Politicians should be accountable. And their choices before entering politics are often relevant. But it appears that the BBC and Peacock are taking aim at Long-Bailey for a policy she didn’t invent or vote for. Nor did she choose to work for the blood-sucking private entities making a mint out of PFIs. She chose to represent the NHS instead.

This attack is flimsy, and Peacock jumped right on it. A poor show from both the public broadcaster and the Parliamentary Labour Party member. No change there, then.

Featured image via David Woolfall/Wikimedia and BBC

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us