For all those who thought that Z-lister Rachel Riley, whose career has reached the giddy heights of being the numbers person on Channel 4’s Countdown, had thought twice about smearing anyone on the left with accusations of anti-Semitism, well, I have bad news for them. Ms Riley has returned to the fray, emboldened by press coverage from papers on the lookout for Labour Party bashing stories. And her fire is as wayward as ever.
Her latest target is pundit and author Owen Jones, but not because he has lots more Twitter followers than her, oh no. Earlier today, Jones was the subject of deliberate baiting by a troll with the magnificent total of 53 whole followers; Ms Riley then leapt in to the exchange and suggested that he was being disrespectful to Holocaust Memorial Day.
After Jones shot back “Excuse me?” and told the troll “Um, there’s two posts there, try again. And here’s a third one https://twitter.com/owenjones84/status/1089493537446600704?s=21 … Apologise in your own time, thanks” - he was actually talking about the disturbing news that 1 in 20 people are sceptical of the Holocaust to the extent that they deny it happened - in came Ms Riley.
“The real victim of the Holocaust @OwenJones84 You pretend this isn’t happening in your own party, the place where British Jews see the most direct danger with their fostering of Jew-hating rhetoric. Today of all days, sod off”. He does not, and has not, pretended or otherwise suggested that anti-Semitism is absent from the Labour Party.
But no intervention from her would be complete without a smear, and so she followed up with that. “Hey @OwenJones84, you know when you said that antisemitism should be driven from the left without compromise...then you came out in support of @AaronBastani who tries to discredit anyone who does so. Just wondering, which is it? Asking for a friend”. Bastani tries to “discredit” those calling out anti-Semitism?
That one is news to me. And it was news to Bastani. “Wheres the ‘anti semitism’ there? In literally any of those tweets”. Moreover, where is the “discrediting”? By this point, Sue Marsh had had enough. Enough to make a very valid point. “This is just bizarre. None of those tweets are antisemitism. I have absolutely no idea why you have to attack like this while *actual* fascists are on our streets. #YesYesIAmJewish”. Quite.
On top of that, Owen Jones had a whole stack of reading material to which he could refer Ms Riley, showing that he hasn’t “pretended” anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in Labour, or denied its existence: “It is false that I deny anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in Labour. I’ve confronted it over and over again and will keep doing so”.
Some in the press are still prepared to give Rachel Riley a platform to smear anyone on the left. But the reality is that, should she continue to scatter-gun her accusations, the logical end point is that someone consults lawyers and she ends up being cleaned out.
Making the kinds of claims Ms Riley has made her forte is all very well. But, ultimately, they have to be backed up by factual evidence. And they’re not being. Just a thought.
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