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Politician & Activist

Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger is a British Liberal Democrat politician who was the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree from 2010 to 2019.

She resigned from the Labour Party in 2019 and co-founded The Independent Group, later Change UK.

She later joined the Liberal Democrats and stood unsuccessfully for Finchley and Golders Green in 2019.

A former member of the Opposition Shadow Cabinet, she served under Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn as Shadow Minister for Mental Health from 2015 to 2016.

  • Full name: Luciana Clare Berger
  • Profession: British politician
  • Born: 13 May 1981 (age 38 years), London
  • Spouse: Alistair Goldsmith (m. 2015)
  • Party: Liberal Democrats
  • Education: University of London, University of Birmingham, MORE
  • Children: Zion Benjamin Manny Goldsmith, Amélie Moselle
  • Parents: Antonia Berger, Howard Berger
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About Luciana Berger

Berger was born on 13 May in London, England. She was raised in Wembley, north-west London. She is the daughter of Howard and Antonia.

Her father, Howard, studied Law at university and initially practised as a solicitor; he now runs a home-furnishings shop. Her mother, Antonia, is an interior designer and children’s book writer, wrote a musical hit that made the French charts in the 1960s, and was a counsellor in a palliative care unit.

She is a great-niece of trade union official and Labour MP Manny Shinwell, who rose to be a Minister in the Ramsay MacDonald government and in the Attlee government, as Secretary of State for War in the latter. He was of Polish Jewish extraction, and was the last MP to throw a punch in Parliament, after taking exception to a Conservative MP suggesting that he “get back to Poland”.

Her grandfather sold ladies’ fashions from a market stall, and her brother is a professional musician. According to Berger, the family was more culturally Jewish than religiously so.

She said of her Jewish heritage: “I went to the synagogue a lot, and I was part of a strong community. One of its values, ‘Tikkun Olam’, literally means ‘repairing the world’, and it instilled strong values in me at quite young age.” She has described that throughout her upbringing the Labour Party was “part of [her] DNA,” and her “family’s heritage.”

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Berger was educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, a private school in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Berger subsequently gained a degree in Commerce with Spanish from the University of Birmingham in 2004.

She was named the University of Birmingham 2012 Alumna of the Year. She spent a year studying in ICADE in Madrid, Spain.

Berger then took on on a part-time basis and completed a master’s degree (MSc) in Government, Politics and Policy at Birkbeck, University of London.

Berger was a National Executive Committee member of the National Union of Students, Britain’s main student representative organisation, serving as an elected member for two years. She co-convened the NUS Anti-Racism/Anti-Fascism Campaign.

In April 2005, Berger resigned from the Committee along with two other Committee members, saying “While I accuse no one of anti-semitism, this year NUS has been a bystander to Jew-hatred”.

A later independent inquiry later cleared the NUS of failing to tackle antisemitism, but on the other hand criticised the union for not having rigorous complaints procedures in place, and for “lack of proactive response to allegations of anti-semitism”.

The report recommended that the union apologise. The report was also critical of Berger, for—following complaints from Jewish students that the union was tolerating antisemitism—attending a meeting with the head of the School of Oriental and African Studies, inasmuch as the report suggested that given that she was a national executive member Berger should not have attended the meeting (which it said was implicitly critical of the union), and instead should have sought to support the union in addressing the problem first.

Career

Berger began her career with the management consultant Accenture in its Government Strategy Unit from 2005 to 2006, advising the UK Treasury and other parts of the UK government as to how to be more effective and efficient.

She then worked for the National Health Service (NHS) Confederation as Government and Parliamentary Manager, campaigning for the NHS within the government from 2006 to 2007.

She also ran a non-profit campaigning and education organisation working with democratic socialists and trade unions for peace and security in the Middle East.

Berger was the Director of Labour Friends of Israel from 2007 to 2010, and 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, and stepped down when she was elected to Parliament in 2010.

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As an MP, Berger joined the Official Opposition frontbench under Ed Miliband’s Labour leadership; firstly as Shadow Minister for Climate Change from 2010 to 2013 and later as Shadow Minister for Public Health from 2013 to 2015.

As a backbencher, she campaigned against dangerous dogs and their owners, food poverty and loopholes allowing companies to avoid their health and safety responsibilities. She was re-elected in the 2015 and 2017 general elections.

Following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in September 2015, Berger was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as the first Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health. However, she was critical of Corbyn and resigned in June 2016.

In February 2019, members of her local party briefly proposed motions of no confidence in her for “continually” criticising Corbyn.

Later that month, she joined other former Labour and Conservative MPs in forming Change UK, but left this group in June 2019 to sit as an Independent MP, before joining the Liberal Democrats in September 2019.