Luciana Berger

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Luciana Berger
MP
Official portrait of Luciana Berger crop 2.jpg
Shadow Minister for Mental Health
In office
14 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Barbara Keeley
Shadow Minister for Public Health
In office
8 October 2013 – 14 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Diane Abbott
Succeeded by Andrew Gwynne
Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Wavertree
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Jane Kennedy
Majority 29,466 (67.6%)
Personal details
Born Luciana Clare Berger
(1981-05-13) 13 May 1981 (age 37)
Westminster, London, England
Political party Labour Co-operative
Spouse(s) Alistair Goldsmith (m. 2015)
Children 1
Education Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Birkbeck, University of London
Website Official website

Luciana Clare Goldsmith MP (née Berger; born 13 May 1981), known as Luciana Berger,[1] is a British Labour Co-operative[2] politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010.[3] She was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health on 8 October 2013, before becoming Shadow Minister for Mental Health on 14 September 2015.[4]

Her activities in Parliament have included campaigning against dangerous dogs and their owners, raising the issue of loopholes that allow companies to avoid their health and safety responsibilities, and food poverty.[5] In November 2012 Berger created a film, Breadline Britain, dealing with food poverty and its implications.[6] She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet on 27 June 2016.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in London,[8] and from Wembley, Berger is the great-niece of trade union official and Labour MP Manny Shinwell, who rose to be a Minister in the Attlee government.[9][10] Her father runs a furnishings shop, and her mother was a counsellor in a palliative care unit. The family, according to Berger, was more culturally Jewish than religiously so.[9] She was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire.[11] She subsequently gained a degree in Commerce with Spanish from the University of Birmingham in 2004. She spent a year studying in ICADE in Madrid.[12]

Berger took on and completed a part-time master's degree in Government, Politics and Policy at Birkbeck, University of London after graduation.[13][14]

Early career[edit]

Berger was a National Executive Committee member of the National Union of Students. She co-convened the NUS Anti-Racism/Anti-Fascism Campaign. In April 2005, she resigned from the Executive Committee, accusing other NEC members of anti-Semitism.[15]

An independent inquiry later cleared the NUS of failing to tackle anti-Semitism, but criticised it for not having rigorous complaints procedures in place and reacting too slowly to allegations. The report was also critical of Berger, who attended a meeting with the head of the School of Oriental and African Studies following complaints from Jewish students that the union was tolerating anti-Semitism. It stated that "Miss Berger should not have attended the meeting, which was implicitly critical of the union, when she was a national executive member. Protocol dictates she should have sought to support the union in tackling the problem first".[16]

Berger was the Director of Labour Friends of Israel for three years, but stepped down before the 2010 general election to stand in Liverpool.[17] She was a committee member of the London Jewish Forum, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Jewish life in London, but stepped down when she was elected to Parliament in 2010.[18]

Selection as parliamentary candidate[edit]

Berger's selection as prospective parliamentary candidate in early 2010 was controversial within the Liverpool Wavertree party. During the selection process, Berger lived for a period at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose partner was Labour official Peter Dowling, who ran the selection process. The completed ballot papers were returned to Kennedy's home address.[19] In the run up to the 2010 election, the Labour leadership was accused of "parachuting" Berger in as a candidate.[20] Kennedy insisted that she and Dowling had acted properly.

A further source of controversy was the Labour National Executive Committee's imposition of an all-women shortlist on the local party.[20][21] Berger was selected as Labour candidate for Liverpool Wavertree by "a margin of around 2-1" according to the Liverpool Echo, over the other female candidates.[22] Berger shared the criticism of AWS after her selection, stating "I would like to have won in an open contest. People have already said I didn't deserve to win."[23]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Backbencher[edit]

Berger was elected at the 2010 General Election with 53.1% of the vote.[24]

Berger was elected to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee but left the role when she was appointed a junior shadow minister for Energy and Climate Change.[citation needed]

On 31 October 2010, Berger "sparked outrage online" after appearing in a Radio Five Live show which featured Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun.[25] MacKenzie was editor at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and the paper's coverage of the story which led to an ongoing boycott of the paper on Merseyside and vilification of MacKenzie. The Echo wrote that Berger responded to the criticism on her Twitter feed, writing, "Was there for the MP bit with Amber Rudd, wasn't told before who the other guests were."[25]

Berger spoke in support of allowing MPs to tweet in the House of Commons during a debate on 13 October 2011.[26] The Jewish Chronicle reported in September 2011 that Berger had been criticised by the Jewish community in Liverpool and supporters of Israel for not using her position to defend Israel for the sake of career advancement. After sixteen months in parliament, she had not mentioned Israel in any of her parliamentary interventions.[17]

Shadow Minister posts[edit]

As Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Berger has been critical of the Government's actions on the environmental agenda, particularly focusing on the Green Investment Bank and the Green Deal, writing in the environment section of The Guardian about the need for a pro-environmental-business agenda.[27] In the run up to the 2011 Budget, Berger also contributed an article to the Left Foot Forward Labour blog challenging the Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet "three Climate Change tests" in order for the Government to reach the Prime Minister's aim of being the "Greenest Government ever".[28]

In June 2011, Berger secured an amendment to the Energy Bill, the Green Deal apprenticeship programme.[29] The amendment states that The Secretary of State will report to parliament on proposals for an apprenticeships scheme within the Green Deal.[30] She later criticised the Green Deal saying in the Independent "Because of sky-high interest rates, hidden charges and penalty payments, the reality for most people will be that the Green Deal ends up costing them more than they save."[31]

On 8 October 2013, Berger was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health following a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. She had previously signed parliamentary motions in support of NHS funding for homoeopathy. A Labour Party spokesman said: "Luciana fully supports the scientific evidence on the use of homeopathy. These old petitions will have no impact on her work as a shadow Health minister."[32]

"Save BBC Radio Merseyside" campaign[edit]

In response to proposals by the BBC[33] to consider reducing locally produced content on their local radio network to cover only the breakfast and drivetime periods and syndicating Five Live during the daytime, Berger launched a campaign to Save BBC Radio Merseyside.[34]

Berger also signed Early Day Motion 1640[35] in Parliament to raise awareness of the topic, which was co-sponsored by other Merseyside MPs Louise Ellman, Bill Esterson, George Howarth, Steve Rotheram and Stephen Twigg.[citation needed]

Shadow Minister for Mental Health[edit]

In the 2015 general election Berger was returned with an increased majority.[36]

Following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party Leader in September 2015, Berger was appointed as the newly established Shadow Minister for Mental Health. The position does not have an identical counterpart in the current Conservative Government.[37] She resigned from the post on 27 June 2016 in the mass resignation of shadow ministers from the Labour frontbench over concerns about the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[38]

Metro Mayor of Liverpool Contest[edit]

In 2015, Luciana Berger applied for selection as Labour Party candidate for the position of Metro Mayor of Liverpool, but on 10 August 2016 failed to be selected.[39] She was the only woman campaigning to be a Labour candidate for the newly created metro mayor position.[9]

Criminal victimisation[edit]

By the beginning the end of March 2018, three people had received custodial sentences for directing antisemitic abuse at Berger. She wrote in The Sunday Times that the cases which required her to appear in court were predominantly from individuals on the far-right.[40]

In January 2013, it was reported that a Merseyside music promoter, Philip Hayes, had been convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence and fined £120 after an 'antisemitic tirade' against Berger at the Liverpool Music Awards.[41][42]

In October 2014, Garron Helm, a member of the small Neo-Nazi National Action youth group was imprisoned for four weeks after he sent an anti-Semitic tweet to Berger in August 2014; he served two weeks before being released.[43][44][45] Following the conviction, it has been reported that similar messages to her are being posted on Twitter.[46] According to Berger in December 2014: "At the height of the abuse, the police said I was the subject of 2,500 hate messages in the space of three days" using the same hashtag.[47] She has had to take security measures at her bases in Liverpool and London, and has accused Twitter of insufficient action to counter the problem. In her view, the site "could start by proactively banning racist words which aren’t allowed to be printed in newspapers or broadcast on TV that could never be used in a positive way."[47]

During the 2015 general election, UK Independence Party (UKIP) parliamentary candidate for West Lancashire Jack Sen was suspended from UKIP after sending an allegedly anti-semitic Tweet to Luciana Berger.[48]

Joshua Bonehill-Paine, a supporter of Helm, was convicted of racially-aggravated harassment of Berger in December 2016 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.[49][50] In February 2017, John Nimmo was sentenced to 27 months in prison after pleading guilty to nine charges, including the sending of death threats and antisemitic messages to Berger.[51]

Response to antisemitism[edit]

Further extensive online abuse of Berger occurred in March 2018 which she believe come from the Left. One Labour Party member has been identified as sending her a death threat.[40][52] These incidents followed a request Berger made via Twitter to the office of Jeremy Corbyn asking why the Labour leader had opposed the removal of an antisemitic mural by American graffiti artist Mear One.[53] She also attended a demonstration in Parliament Square concerning ongoing cases of Antisemitism in the Labour Party and made a speech at the event at which she said: "Antisemitism is very real and alive in the Labour Party. It pains me to have to say that today".[54] Her staff have given statements to police about their own victimisation.[40][52]

Private life and awards[edit]

Berger married Liverpool music manager Alistair Goldsmith at the city's Princes Road Synagogue in June 2015.[55] The couple's first child, a daughter, was born in March 2017.[56]

Berger was shortlisted for the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award in 2015 for her campaign against food poverty, in which she had produced a film to highlight the growing concerns of some of her constituents reliant on food banks. She remains in the directory of the Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who publication.[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 61961". The London Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 11778. 
  2. ^ "House of Commons". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 27 July 2010. col. 855–856. Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "List of Labour MPs". labour.org.uk. 27 February 2010. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet: No top jobs for women – live". 14 September 2015. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "David Cameron visits food bank" Archived 22 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine., mirror.co.uk; accessed 11 November 2015.
  6. ^ Berger, Luciana (23 November 2012). "The scandal of British food poverty shames us all". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 17 March 2017. 
  7. ^ Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Who's Who profile". Who's Who. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Deveney, Catherine (28 August 2016). "Luciana Berger: 'I have been contending with issues surrounding my safety and security for years'". The Observer. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Reference to Manny Shinwell Archived 16 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., parliament.uk; accessed 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Labour should have fought back on immigration, says Euan Blair's girlfriend". The Telegraph. 17 April 2005. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Why I had to resign". theguardian.co.uk. 15 April 2005. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Our students: Luciana Berger". Birkbeck College, University of London. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Careers Network: Luciana Berger". University of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Berger, Luciana (15 April 2005). "Why I had to resign". The Guardian. London, UK. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  16. ^ Curtis, Polly (20 September 2005). "NUS cleared of anti-semitism claims". Guardian. London, UK. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Marcus Dysch "Luciana Berger: I've been unlucky in the House" Archived 24 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., The Jewish Chronicle, 15 September 2011
  18. ^ "Westminster Parliamentary Record". Westminster Parliamentary Research. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Liverpool Labour candidate Luciana Berger: I'll fight on to win seat". Liverpool Echo. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  20. ^ a b Brown, Jonathan (23 April 2010). "Crash landing for Labour candidate parachuted into Liverpool". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  21. ^ All women shortlist for Wavertree, open list for Sefton Central Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Liverpool Daily Post; accessed 11 November 2015.
  22. ^ Bartlett, David (25 January 2010). "Labour picks Luciana Berger to fight Jane Kennedy's Wavertree seat". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  23. ^ Labour Luciana Berger features Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine., liverpooldailypost.co.uk; accessed 11 November 2014.
  24. ^ "General Election 2010 results". BBC Website. BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Luciana Berger sparks outrage by sharing a panel with Kelvin MacKenzie". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  26. ^ Berger in favor of tweeting in House of Commons Archived 1 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine., parliament.uk; accessed 11 November 2015.
  27. ^ Luciana, Berger (11 March 2011). "The government is sabotaging British attempts to forge a green economy". Environment Guardian Website. London. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  28. ^ "Budget 2011: Three key climate change tests". Left Foot Forward. March 2011. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  30. ^ "New Clause 10 – Green Deal". 
  31. ^ Read, Simon (1 February 2013). "Critics say Coalition's Green Deal is no solution to curse of fuel poverty". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 
  32. ^ Sidonie Chaffer-Melly, "Labour tells new health spokeswoman to drop her support for homeopathy" Archived 16 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The Independent, 13 October 2013.
  33. ^ Laughran, Cathy. "Local radio programme sharing 'just an idea', BBC says". ariel. Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  34. ^ Berger. "Save BBC Radio Merseyside". Luciana Berger website. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  35. ^ "BBC Radio Merseyside EDM". Parliament Website. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. 
  36. ^ "Liverpool Wavertree". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  37. ^ Stone, Jon (14 September 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn creates new dedicated 'Minister for Mental Health' in his shadow cabinet". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  38. ^ Dysch, Marcus (27 June 2016). "Luciana Berger quits shadow cabinet". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  39. ^ Murphy, Liam (10 August 2016). "Steve Rotheram selected as Labour metro mayor candidate: latest reaction". Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  40. ^ a b c Berger, Luciana (1 April 2018). "Luciana Berger: Four types of vicious abuse; just one way to deal with it". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 1 April 2018.  (subscription required)
  41. ^ "Luciana Berger, Jewish MP, Subject To Anti-Semitic Tirade, Abuser Philip Hayes Found Guilty and Fined" Archived 3 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine., huffingtonpost.co.uk, 1 September 2013.
  42. ^ "Luciana Berger MP abuse: Philip Hayes fined for anti-Semitic remarks". BBC News. 9 January 2013. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  43. ^ "Man jailed for anti-Semitic tweet to Luciana Berger MP". BBC News. 20 October 2014. Archived from the original on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  44. ^ Collins, Matthew (March–April 2015). "National Action: Young, Nazi and Dangerous". Hope Not Hate (18). Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  45. ^ Rouse, Alisha (2 February 2015). "Neo-Nazi "not sorry in the slightest" for vile abuse sent to Luciana Berger". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  46. ^ Dysch, Marcus (24 October 2014). "Luciana Berger targeted by antisemites after jailing of abusive internet troll". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. 
  47. ^ a b Barnett, Emma (18 December 2014). "Twitter must block anti-Semitic words, says abused Labour MP". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. 
  48. ^ "UKIP candidate Jack Sen suspended over Jewish slur tweet". BBC. 1 May 2015. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  49. ^ "Man guilty of harassing Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger". BBC News. 7 December 2016. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  50. ^ Simpson, Fiona (8 December 2016). "Jailed: Neo-Nazi Joshua Bonehill-Paine who subjected MP Luciana Berger to 'vile' anti-Jewish abuse". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  51. ^ Laville, Sandra (10 February 2017). "Internet troll who sent Labour MP antisemitic messages is jailed". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  52. ^ a b Harpin, Lee (3 April 2018). "Luciana Berger calls in police over threats and abuse after challenging Corbyn over mural". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 3 April 2018. 
  53. ^ Merrick, Rob (23 March 2018). "Jeremy Corbyn forced to backtrack over apparent support for antisemitic mural". The Independent. Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  54. ^ Harpin, Lee (26 March 2018). "Huge crowds join Jewish community protest against antisemitism, in Westminster". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  55. ^ Dysch, Marcus (22 June 2015). "Labour's Luciana Berger weds music manager at historic Liverpool synagogue". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  56. ^ "Liverpool MP 'over the moon' after birth of baby girl". ITV News. 17 March 2017. Archived from the original on 19 June 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  57. ^ "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jane Kennedy
Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Wavertree

2010–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Diane Abbott
Shadow Minister for Public Health
2013–2015
Succeeded by
Andrew Gwynne
New office Shadow Minister for Mental Health
2015–2016
Succeeded by
Barbara Keeley