Rachel Riley is a British television personality, digital censorship activist, and outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism. In 2019, Riley criticized the Labour Party and its then-leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, for its mishandling of and apparent callousness toward allegations of anti-Semitism by Labour politicians and activists. Riley later backed the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s campaigns for Twitter to remove controversial far-right commentator Katie Hopkins and former radical-left MP George Galloway.
Though Riley’s political party membership is unknown and she has stated she has no “party loyalties,” Riley expressed opposition to the Labour Party on social media during Corbyn’s controversial party leadership. The Center for Countering Digital Hate, which lists her as the group’s “patron,” has close ties to the Labour Party and Corbyn’s replacement as party leader, Keir Starmer.
Early Life and Career
Rachel Riley was born in Rochford, Essex in the United Kingdom. Her father’s side of the family is of English ancestry. Her mother’s family is of Russian Jewish ancestry and immigrated to Britain after fleeing pogroms in Tsarist Russia. Though ethnically Jewish, Riley was not raised as a practicing Jew and has said she is an atheist.
Riley attended college at the University of Oxford where she majored in mathematics. After graduating, Riley briefly considered a career in finance before accepting a position as tv host in 2009 for Channel 4’s “Countdown,” a math-based quiz show, despite having no television experience or training.
Riley has remained the host of “Countdown” for over ten years while also working on other live television shows, including “The Gadget Show,” “It’s Not Rocket Science,” and “Sky Sports.”
Labour Party anti-Semitism
In January 2019, Rachel Riley made a series of Tweets criticizing the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. She attacked former MP George Galloway (a former Labour member) for an anti-Israel tweet which got him fired from his job at talkRADIO. Riley also accused then-Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn for “giving voice to holocaust denial” by giving speaking platforms to Islamist extremist groups opposed to Israel.
Riley’s dispute with Corbyn carried on throughout the year. In November, Riley shared a picture of herself wearing a shirt reading “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavor,” a reference to the anti-Israel slogan “Israel is a racist endeavor.” After the defeat of Corbyn and the Labour Party in the December 2019 general election, Riley tweeted that British Jews felt “relief” at not having to “live in fear” under a Corbyn regime.
In the name of Labour I’ve been called a hypocrite, lying propagandist, a tits-teeth-and-arse clothes horse dolly bird, weaponiser of anti-Semitism, fascist, right-wing extremist, Nazi sympathiser, Twitter cancer, thick Tory, brainwashed, an anti-Semite, white supremacist, hate preacher, Zio political trollster, not a real Jew, a child bully, conspiracy theorist, a paedo-protector minion puppet who my dead grandfather would be disgusted by.
In February, Riley and Tracy Ann Olberman, a fellow Jewish television presenter who criticized the Labour Party, prepared to sue up to 70 individuals for libel or harassment. In April 2020, Riley won a libel case against Laura Murray, a former Corbyn staffer, who accused Riley of advocating violence against Corbyn on Twitter.
Center for Countering Digital Hate
In January 2020, Riley joined the Center for Countering Digital Hate in calling for Twitter to ban the accounts of Katie Hopkins and George Galloway. Hopkins, a British television personality, has been accused of racism for her outspoken anti-immigration views, and Galloway, a former radical-left Member of Parliament, has been accused of anti-Semitism for his opposition to Israel. In mid-January, Riley and Center CEO Imran Ahmed met with Twitter executives in London to present evidence that Hopkins and Galloway had violated Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy.
On January 30, Hopkins’s Twitter account was suspended for a week and her past tweets were hidden. On June 19, Hopkins’s account was permanently suspended. Though Galloway’s account was reviewed, his account was not suspended.