Martin Lewis has opened up about the anti-Semitic experiences he faced in school and the prejudiced comparisons people continue to make online today about his Jewishness and his role as Money Saving Expert. Martin remembers, as a schoolboy, being referred to as “Jew” and “Jewy Lewy” and how one classmate would throw sweets to the ground to see if he would pick them up.
Speaking to Nick Robinson on BBC’s Political Thinking, Martin said: “As I always say, I’m the Money Saving Expert and I’m Jewish, I’m not the Money Saving Expert because I’m Jewish.” Martin Lewis has come to prominence in recent years following his advice on how to save money, take on companies and promote the rights of the consumer.
As the UK enters a Cost of Living and Energy crisis, Martin’s advice has become crucial in helping people across the country save pennies and ensure they are on the best deals possible. His conversation with BBC’s Nick Robinson shed light on the anti-Semitic abuse he has received over the years.
The Money Saving Expert said: “There were two Jews in the year, and my nickname was Jew. It had originally, I think, been something like Jewy Lewy before it was shortened
“This was in the 1980s and it was just something I accepted. I didn’t see it as a pejorative. I didn’t see it as anti-Semitic, that’s just how people did things in those days. The only bit I remember I didn’t like was there was one boy who would occasionally throw sweets call it a Jewy and look to see if I would run to grab the sweets, which of course I never did.
“It is certainly unacceptable with my now 50-year-old eyes now. If my child went through that, I would be going in to complain to the school and it would be outrageous. But this was the 1980s and we were not the same on race and religion and diversity that we are now.”
Martin also shared that early on in his career he had been on shows with a well-known broadcaster who would make ‘inappropriate gags’ and he decided not to do the programme.
Though Martin did say that things have certainly changed since the 1980s he also admitted that he still receives comments about his religion on social media.
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He said: “I get on social media sometimes, ‘ah no wonder you’re so good with money, you’re Jewish. I call back and say, ‘You do realise that’s anti-Semitism.”
He continued: “I think we just need to separate that, I am not the Money Supermarket Expert because of my religion.”
Matt is a trainee reporter specialising in LGBT+ issues, including speaking to LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell ahead of the 50th anniversary of Gay Pride in the UK, an interview with an ex-Lieutenant Commander who was forced to keep his sexuality a secret in the Armed Forces for 20 years who lost his partner to AIDS two days before he left the Navy, and speaking to the founder of The Gay Men’s Dance Company, which offers pole dancing classes, among others.
Got a story? You can reach Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM him on Twitter via @mattlspivey.