Luciana Clare Berger (born 13 May 1981) 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.
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 titled Breadline Britain dealing with food poverty and its implications.
- 2 Student politics
- 3 Career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Born in Wembley, London, she is the great niece of Labour MP Manny Shinwell. Berger was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, a privateschool in Elstree, Hertfordshire, followed by the University of Birmingham where she obtained a degree in Commerce and Spanish and spent a year studying in ICADE in Madrid, and Birkbeck, University of London, one of the colleges of the University of London, where she took a part-time Masters degree in Government, Politics and Policy.
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. Berger worked in public affairs for the management consultancy Accenture before moving to the public sector where she joined the NHS Confederationas their government and parliamentary affairs manager. She was a committee member of the London Jewish Forum, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Jewish life in London, but resigned when she was elected in 2010.
In the run up to the 2010 election, the Labour leadership was accused of "parachuting" Berger in as a candidate.
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. 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. Berger was selected as Labour candidate for Liverpool Wavertree by "a margin of around 2-1" according toLiverpool Echo, beating Liverpool councillor Wendy Simon and Joyce Still.
A further source of controversy was the Labour National Executive Committee's imposition of an all-women shortlist on the local party. Berger also 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."
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 Merseyand not recognising the name of former Liverpool F.C. manager, Bill Shankly. 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."
On 31 October 2010, Berger "sparked outrage online" after appearing in a Radio Five Live show which also featured former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie. MacKenzie was editor at the time of theHillsborough disaster and the paper's coverage of the story led to a widespread boycott of the paper on Merseyside that lasts to this day 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.
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 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"
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 has previously signed parliamentary motions in support of NHS funding forhomeopathy. 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."
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.
In January 2013, it was reported that a Merseyside music promoter had been convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence and fined £120 after an 'antisemitic tirade' against Berger at the Liverpool Music Awards.