Back in December Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is a Catholic, responded to a range of questions sent to candidates by the Deanery of St. John the Evangelist, Salford. One question asked:
11. Discrimination on grounds of disability or gender are illegal in this
country except in the case of termination of pregnancy, would you support
removing this discrimination?
It is currently legal to terminate a pregnancy up to full-term on the grounds of disability while the upper limit is 24 weeks if there is no disability. I personally do not agree with this position and agree with the words of the Disability Rights Commission that “the context in which parents choose whether to have a child should be one in which disability and non-disability are valued equally”
This answer was recently flagged by the Red Roar website, using the headline:
EXCLUSIVE: Long-Bailey backs stricter abortion laws
I remain unsure *exactly* what Rebecca Long-Bailey’s views on abortion are – and exactly how far they might have been inflected by her Catholicism. However I wouldn’t describe them as ‘toxic’ as this Telegraph headline does; she voted in favour of extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland and has expressed support for this letter which seeks to defend and extend reproductive rights.
As Sunder Katwala noted in a helpful series of tweets there is nothing wrong with opposing her stance on abortion per se. However some of the responses to that interview drew on anti-Catholic tropes. Paul Mason, a strong supporter of Keir Starmer, does not mention Long-Bailey directly here, but does invoke the idea of dual loyalties by dragging the Vatican in.
Many – perhaps not all of them prominent in opposing antisemitism in Labour – have drawn a parallel with claims that Jewish MPs are working for Israel.
Here are some further examples of bigoted comments.
Some have drawn comparisons with Tim Farron and Jacob Rees-Mogg:
However both these men have much more absolute views on abortion (and homosexuality – Long-Bailey fully supports same sex marriage) so the parallel is unhelpful.
Also apparently unfair (I don’t have access to the full article) is the headline used by the Telegraph here.
Labour leadership: Rebecca Long-Bailey says politics comes before her Catholic faith as she tries to extinguish abortion rows stricter abortion laws
In fact what she seems to have said is that she doesn’t agree with all the Church’s teachings – this probably puts her in line with a great many other British Catholics.
Although I certainly won’t be voting for Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Labour leadership contest I hope the candidates I might be voting for take a stand against these bigoted responses.