Countdown host Nick Hewer today revealed he has quit Labour after Rachel Riley faced ‘blunt assaults’ for speaking out about antisemitism in the party.
Hewer, who formerly served as Lord Alan Sugar’s right-hand man on The Apprentice, took to Twitter to defend co-host Riley, who is herself Jewish and has faced a barrage of slurs and insults on the social media platform in recent months.
He wrote: “As an Anglo-Irish lapsed Catholic, raises (sic) to abhor bigotry, I am astonished at the blunt assaults and trickster arguments fired at my friend and colleague @RachelRileyRR for calling out anti Semitism in that once great Labour party which I have voted for since 1964. Not any more.”
Yesterday, Riley used Twitter to vent her own frustration at Heather Mendick, secretary of the Hackney South Labour Party, after she messaged Channel 4 and accused the Countdown star of “smearing political activists as racists on Twitter.”
Sending a message in response to the Labour Party, Riley wrote: “You’ve admitted you have a problem with Antisemitism. Your leader has admitted you have a problem with antisemitism. One of your councillors is twisting my words to my employer to suit her own agenda.
“If you still claim to be a legitimate party – please make her stop”.
Among others showing their support for Riley, Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden castigated Mendick for “telling tales”. She wrote: “Heather. Please stop it. Politics is important, deserves respectful, responsible behaviour not poking your tongue out and telling tales. @RachelRileyRR is right and a grown up response would be appreciated. Thank you.”
Last September, Riley revealed she had been a victim of abuse on social media and been called a “Tory, brainwashed and thick”
At the time, she wrote: “Much as I appreciate being called Tory, brainwashed and thick, I don’t have any party loyalties, I form my opinions based on available evidence.
“Religion wise, I choose Man United. Life wise I choose the options without intolerance, hatred and fear. #AntiSemitism.”
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”