Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger
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 24,303 (59.3%)
Personal details
Born Luciana Clare Berger
(1981-05-13) 13 May 1981
London, England, UK
Political party Labour Co-operative
Alma mater University of Birmingham
University of London
Website Official website

Luciana Clare Berger[1] (born 13 May 1981[2]) is a British Labour Co-operative[3] politician who has been the member of parliament (MP) for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010.[4] She was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health on 8 October 2013, before becoming Shadow Minister for Mental Health on 14 September 2015.[5]

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.[6] In November 2012 Berger created a film, Breadline Britain, dealing with food poverty and its implications.[7] She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet on 27 June 2016.[8]

Early life and education

Born in London,[9] and from Wembley, Berger is the great-niece of trade union official and Labour MP Manny Shinwell, who rose be a Minister in the Attlee government.[10][11] 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.[10] She was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire.[12] 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.[13]

Berger took on and completed a part-time Masters degree in Government, Politics and Policy at Birkbeck, University of London after graduation.[14][15]

Student politics

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.[16]

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".[17]


2010 general election

In the run up to the 2010 election, the Labour leadership was accused of "parachuting" Berger in as a candidate.[18]

Berger's selection was controversial within the local party. Frank Hont, regional secretary of the union UNISON, lodged protests about the selection process. During the selection process, Berger lived for about a month at the home of Jane Kennedy, then the sitting MP, whose boyfriend was Labour official Peter Dowling, who ran the selection process. The completed ballot papers were returned to Kennedy's home address.[2]

Kennedy insisted that she and Dowling acted properly. Nearby MP Peter Kilfoyle claimed that there had been a deliberate operation by Blairites to get Berger selected. Unison instead supported Liverpool city councillor Wendy Simon for selection to be Labour's candidate.[19] Berger was selected as Labour candidate for Liverpool Wavertree by "a margin of around 2-1" according to Liverpool Echo, beating Liverpool councillor Wendy Simon and Joyce Still.[20]

A further source of controversy was the Labour National Executive Committee's imposition of an all-women shortlist on the local party.[21][22][23] Berger criticised the process after her victory, stating "I would like to have won in an open contest. People have already said I didn't deserve to win."[24]

In the run-up to the General Election, the Liverpool Echo tested Berger with a four-question quiz on Liverpool life and history. She scored two out of four, not knowing who performed Ferry Cross the Mersey and not recognising the name of former Liverpool F.C. manager, Bill Shankly.[25] In her defence, Berger said, "You can't ask a girl a football question" and added "I'm not new to the city. I've been coming here for the past decade through all different jobs."[25] Berger was elected at the 2010 General Election with 53.1% of the vote.[26]

Parliamentary career

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.

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.[27] 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."[27]

Berger spoke in support of allowing MPs to tweet in the House of Commons during a debate on 13 October 2011.[28]

Shadow Minister posts

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.[29] In the run up to the 2011 Budget, Berger also contributed an article to the Labour blog Left Foot Forward 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".[30]

In June 2011, Berger secured an amendment to the Energy Bill, the Green Deal apprenticeship programme.[31] The amendment states that The Secretary of State will report to parliament on proposals for an apprenticeships scheme within the Green Deal.[32] 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."[33]

On 8 October 2013 Berger was appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health following a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. She has previously signed parliamentary motions in support of NHS funding for homeopathy. 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."[34]

"Save BBC Radio Merseyside" campaign

In response to proposals by the BBC[35] 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.[36]

Berger also signed Early Day Motion 1640[37] 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.

Israeli and Jewish issues

Berger was the Director of Labour Friends of Israel for 3 years, but stepped down before the 2010 general election to stand in Liverpool.[38] 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.[39] The Jewish Chronicle reported in September 2011 that Berger was 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.[38]

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.[40][41]

In October 2014, 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.[42][43] Following the conviction, it has been reported that similar messages to her are being posted on Twitter.[44] 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.[45] 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."[45] A man was charged on 13 July 2016 with sending Berger "a message causing anxiety or distress", and was remanded in custody the following day at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court until a further hearing on 27 July. He had sent her a series of messages via Twitter including death threats.[46]


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.[47]

2015 general election

In May 2015, the UK Independence Party suspended Jack Sen, a candidate who wrote to Berger on Twitter that she would rather have part of the budget sent to Poland/Israel than have it spent on child benefits.[48]

In the 2015 general election Berger was returned with an increased majority.[49]

Shadow Minister for Mental Health

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.[50] 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.[51]

Metro Mayor of Liverpool Contest

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.[52] There are four imminent mayoral elections in England, the only woman campaigning to be a Labour candidate was Berger.[10]


  1. The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8737. 13 May 2010.
  2. 1 2 Carlin, Brendan (31 January 2010). "Labour at war as Blair son's glamorous friend is chosen for safe seat". Daily Mail. London.
  3. "House of Commons". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 27 July 2010. col. 855–856. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  4. "List of Labour MPs". 27 February 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  5. "Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet: No top jobs for women – live". 14 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. "David Cameron visits food bank",; accessed 11 November 2015.
  7. Berger, Luciana (23 November 2012). "The scandal of British food poverty shames us all". The Independent. London.
  8. Syal, Rajeev; Perraudin, Frances (27 June 2016). "Shadow cabinet resignations: who has gone and who is staying". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  9. "Who's Who profile". Who's Who. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 Deveney, Catherine (28 August 2016). "Luciana Berger: 'I have been contending with issues surrounding my safety and security for years'". The Observer. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  11. Reference to Manny Shinwell,; accessed 11 November 2015.
  12. "Labour should have fought back on immigration, says Euan Blair's girlfriend". The Telegraph. 17 April 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  13. "Why I had to resign". 15 April 2005. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  14. "Our students: Luciana Berger". Birkbeck College, University of London. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  15. "Careers Network: Luciana Berger". University of Birmingham. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  16. Berger, Luciana (15 April 2005). "Why I had to resign". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  17. Curtis, Polly (20 September 2005). "NUS cleared of anti-semitism claims". Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  18. "Crash landing for Labour candidate parachuted into Liverpool". The Independent. London, UK. 23 April 2010.
  19. David Bartlett (2 February 2010). "Top union official waiting for answers about selection of Luciana Berger for the Liverpool Wavertree seat". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  20. Bartlett, David (25 January 2010). "Londoner Luciana Berger selected as Labour candidate for Liverpool Wavertree seat". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  21. "Rotheram is the right man for Walton says Kilfoyle",; accessed 11 November 2015.
  22. "Crash landing for Labour candidate parachuted into Liverpool". The Independent. London, UK. 23 April 2010.
  23. All women shortlist for Wavertree, open list for Sefton Central, Liverpool Daily Post; accessed 11 November 2015.
  24. Labour Luciana Berger features,; accessed 11 November 2014.
  25. 1 2 "Luciana Berger takes Liverpool test". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  26. "General Election 2010 results". BBC Website. BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  27. 1 2 "Luciana Berger sparks outrage by sharing a panel with Kelvin MacKenzie". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  28. Berger in favor of tweeting in House of Commons,; accessed 11 November 2015.
  29. Luciana, Berger (11 March 2011). "The government is sabotaging British attempts to forge a green economy". Environment Guardian Website. London. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  30. "Budget 2011: Three key climate change tests". Left Foot Forward. March 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  32. "New Clause 10 – Green Deal".
  33. Read, Simon (1 February 2013). "Critics say Coalition's Green Deal is no solution to curse of fuel poverty". The Independent. London, UK.
  34. Sidonie Chaffer-Melly, "Labour tells new health spokeswoman to drop her support for homeopathy",, 13 October 2013.
  35. Laughran, Cathy. "Local radio programme sharing 'just an idea', BBC says". ariel. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  36. Berger. "Save BBC Radio Merseyside". Luciana Berger website. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  37. "BBC Radio Merseyside EDM". Parliament Website.
  38. 1 2 Marcus Dysch "Luciana Berger: I've been unlucky in the House", The Jewish Chronicle, 15 September 2011
  39. "Westminster Parliamentary Record". Westminster Parliamentary Research.
  40. "Luciana Berger, Jewish MP, Subject To Anti-Semitic Tirade, Abuser Philip Hayes Found Guilty and Fined",, 1 September 2013.
  41. "Luciana Berger MP abuse: Philip Hayes fined for anti-Semitic remarks". BBC News. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  42. "Man jailed for anti-Semitic tweet to Luciana Berger MP". BBC News. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  43. Collins, Matthew (March–April 2015). "National Action: Young, Nazi and Dangerous". Hope Not Hate (18). Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  44. Dysch, Marcus (24 October 2014). "Luciana Berger targeted by antisemites after jailing of abusive internet troll". The Jewish Chronicle.
  45. 1 2 Barnett, Emma (18 December 2014). "Twitter must block anti-Semitic words, says abused Labour MP". The Daily Telegraph.
  46. "Man charged over Liverpool MP Luciana Berger death threats". BBC News. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  47. "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  48. "UKIP candidate Jack Sen suspended over Jewish slur tweet". BBC News. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  49. "Liverpool Wavertree". BBC News. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  50. "Jeremy Corbyn creates new dedicated 'Minister for Mental Health' in his shadow cabinet". The Independent. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  51. Dysch, Marcus (27 June 2016). "Luciana Berger quits shadow cabinet". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  52. Murphy, Liam (10 August 2016). "Steve Rotheram selected as Labour metro mayor candidate: latest reaction". Retrieved 10 August 2016.

External links

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

Political offices
Preceded by
Diane Abbott
Shadow Minister for Public Health
Succeeded by
Andrew Gwynne
New office Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Succeeded by
Barbara Keeley
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