THE HOST of Countdown is facing calls to resign after she posted a photo of herself wearing a t-shirt featuring a manipulated photo of Jeremy Corbyn and the words: “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour.”
Rachel Riley, who works on the Channel 4 TV show, shared the picture in a tweet posted from her account on Tuesday (November 19).
The original picture of Corbyn shows him being arrested at a protest against the apartheid in South Africa in 1984.
He was holding a placard which read: “Defend the right to demonstrate against apartheid. Join this picket.”
Riley posted the picture alongside the caption: “I didn’t feel comfortable knowing my workplace was to be full of racists tonight. I don’t endorse Boris, but I do endorse #NeverCorbyn. Please see my pinned thread if you still don’t understand why.”
The 33-year-old had worn the t-shirt to prime minister Boris Johnson and the Labour Party leader’s televised debate on ITV.
The stunt has sparked severe backlash with some critics calling for Riley to resign or be sacked from her role.
“I don’t have a problem with Rachel Riley protesting against Jeremy Corbyn. I do have a problem with this distasteful merchandise and the response to black people’s concerns about it,” one commenter tweeted.
Tobi Oredein, founder and editor of Black Ballad, tweeted: “Corbyn fan or not – this is disgusting and racist. You can’t just erase the black struggle to suit your agenda. It wrecks of white privilege and not a real effort to stamp out any form of racism. Rachel Riley is selective when it comes to racist struggles which is downright dangerous.”
Another commenter said: “So not only is Rachel Riley still falsely smearing Jeremy Corbyn as a racist, she’s now doing so by literally covering up his protest against apartheid. Given her trajectory over the last two years, it’ll only be another month or two before she’s to the right of Katie Hopkins.”
Responding to critics that called her out for erasing black people’s experience of racism, Riley said: “The ease at which large swathes of people can be mobilised into group hate, for highlighting Corbyn’s history of racism using an image of his arrest as part of an extreme group cited as damaging the mainstream anti-apartheid movement, is just one reason Jewish people are worried.”
She added: “Trying to brand me as racist for this, whist lauding themselves as anti-racist heroes, shows just how little regard many people have for anti-Jewish racism, and why I and many others speak so loudly. It’s a hatred which unites the far right, far left and is having a resurgence.”