Luciana Clare Goldsmith MP (née Berger; born 13 May 1981), known as Luciana Berger, is a British Labour Co-operative politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health on 8 October 2013, before becoming Shadow Minister for Mental Health on 14 September 2015.
|Shadow Minister for Mental Health|
14 September 2015 – 27 June 2016
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Barbara Keeley|
|Shadow Minister for Public Health|
8 October 2013 – 14 September 2015
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|
Luciana Clare Berger|
13 May 1981
Westminster, London, England
|Political party||Labour and Co-operative|
Alistair Goldsmith (m. 2015)
|Education||Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls|
University of Birmingham|
Birkbeck, University of London
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. In November 2012 Berger created a film, Breadline Britain, dealing with food poverty and its implications. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet on 27 June 2016.
Early life and educationEdit
Born in London, 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. 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. She was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire. 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.
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.
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".
Berger was the Director of Labour Friends of Israel for three years, but stepped down before the 2010 general election to stand in Liverpool. 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.
Selection as parliamentary candidateEdit
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. In the run up to the 2010 election, the Labour leadership was accused of "parachuting" Berger in as a candidate. 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. 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. 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."
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. 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."
Berger spoke in support of allowing MPs to tweet in the House of Commons during a debate on 13 October 2011. 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.
Shadow Minister postsEdit
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. 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".
In June 2011, Berger secured an amendment to the Energy Bill, the Green Deal apprenticeship programme. The amendment states that The Secretary of State will report to parliament on proposals for an apprenticeships scheme within the Green Deal. 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."
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."
"Save BBC Radio Merseyside" campaignEdit
In response to proposals by the BBC 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.
Berger also signed Early Day Motion 1640 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.
Shadow Minister for Mental HealthEdit
In the 2015 general election Berger was returned with an increased majority.
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. 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.
Metro Mayor of Liverpool ContestEdit
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. She was the only woman campaigning to be a Labour candidate for the newly created metro mayor position.
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.
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.
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. Following the conviction, it has been reported that similar messages to her are being posted on Twitter. 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. 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."
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.
Joshua Bonehill-Paine, a supporter of Helm, was convicted of racially-aggravated harassment of Berger in December 2016 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. 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.
Response to antisemitismEdit
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. 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. 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". Her staff have given statements to police about their own victimisation.
Private life and awardsEdit
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.
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- Luciana Berger's Official parliamentary website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 2010–present
- Contributions in Parliament during 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 at Hansard Archives
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Wavertree
| Shadow Minister for Public Health
|New office|| Shadow Minister for Mental Health