Luciana Berger and Wavertree – some background and updates

Luciana Berger MP. Photo: Facebook

JVL Introduction

Two days ago we reported that Labour row erupts over no confidence vote in Luciana Berger.

In this article David Rosenberg give useful background on Luciana Berger and the reasons why her CLP might not see eye to eye with her, indeed might even want to deselect her…

Meanwhile Skwawkbox carries three related stories which we link to below. Most importantly, The CLP Excutive has refuted allegations that what it did amounted to “bullying” and has been fully supported by Jennie Formby in this.

What do the Wavertree members want and what do they need?

Liverpool is a red city. A real Labour stronghold. Whenever Corbyn or McDonnell appear there, they attract huge enthusiastic crowds, but some of its MPs are out of kilter with that mood. Not least the right wing Labour MP Luciana Berger, parachuted into Liverpool Wavertree by Tony Blair against the local party’s wishes.

She has made no effort to accommodate to that mood. In a recent radio interview Berger was asked 10 times if she would welcome a Corbyn-led Labour Government. She kept evading the question, saying ‘well, Brexit”, finally mumbling through her political constipation that she would prefer a Labour government to a Conservative government, but without saying his dreaded name.

Before the Referendum, her opposition to him was a simple Right/Left matter. It was compounded, though, by her holding a leading position in the pro-Zionist, Blairite-dominated, Jewish Labour Movement, antagonistic to Corbyn for his known pro-Palestinian views (though some JLM members would surely have acknowledged his longstanding commitment to anti-racist causes).

Corbyn himself held out an olive branch to Berger when he was first elected leader. He offered her the significant Shadow Cabinet portfolio of Mental Health. She did it for five minutes then spat it back at him when she resigned her post to join the chicken coup plotters attempting to force Corbyn out undemocratically. The right wing of the PLP attempted to overturn a decisive vote by the membership. So Berger is no stranger to using very undemocratic ways and means.

Last week she let the Observer know that she and two other named Labour MPs and three unnamed Labour MPs were seriously considering leaving Labour to form a new “centrist” party in the near future.

She doesn’t have to be a personal fan of Corbyn to assure her local members that she will work tirelessly to return a Labour government but it seems she can’t even do that. In these circumstances what is wrong with local members putting forward a vote of no confidence. If she is right that this is simply the action of a few unhappy local members, then she has nothing to fear. But of course Berger does fear the outcome. So she and some supporters in the PLP, and compliant media, throw accusations of antisemitism into the mix.

Let me be clear. The JLM, of which Berger is chair, regularly accuse political opponents within Labour/the left of being antisemites/soft on antisemitism, “antisemitism enablers” and “antisemitism deniers”. She has been a victim of horrible antisemitic abuse, principally from far right sources, though she has made unsubstantiated claims that this has come too from left wing Labour members. (I have tweeted her in the past to enquire how many LP members she has reported for antisemitic abuse – and she has not replied).
I stand with any politician, against racist abuse including antisemitism. I recognise that antisemitism within society is growing alongside other hatreds, and that not everyone on the left is as aware as they need to be about this.

That, however, has nothing to do with the right of her local members to question her performance as a Labour Party representative, in a similar way to local members asking questions of non-Jewish Labour MPs such as Chris Leslie, John Mann, Chuka Umunna etc. who also, it seems, constantly attempt to undermine Corbyn,

Berger’s own attempts to raise concerns about antisemitism within such arguments, are compromised by her selective attitude to anti-racism and the alliances she makes with people tolerating racism and seeking to undermine Labour.

She was the leading Labour voice at the “Enough is Enough” demonstration in Parliament Square in March 2018, fronted by self-defined Jewish “leaders”, the most prominent being the then president of the Board of Deputies, the Tory, Jonathan Arkush. Many Tory politicians were present including Norman “Cricket Test” Tebbitt , DUP MPs such as Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley Junior, and others who had not distinguished themselves in the fight against racism.

This protest took place shortly after the then Tory Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, had warmly welcomed Orban’s election in Hungary. Orban’s campaign there centred largely on attacking the Hungarian Jewish figure George Soros in unmistakably antisemitic terms. A few weeks earlier the Tories principal partner in their European Parliament group, the Polish Law and Justice Party, outlawed commentary on the Holocaust that implicated Polish individuals.

Many of the contested charges against Labour and Corbyn on antisemitism related to historical cases. The timing of this event on Parliament Square, a few weeks before local government elections, was transparently about damaging Corbyn in particular and Labour in general just weeks before those local elections.

How do you think Labour members in Wavertee felt when they witnessed their MPs most prominent contribution to Labour’s local election campaign being an attempt to sabotage it? Given the number of historical allegations involved, there was nothing to stop Berger waiting a few weeks until after these elections (and after more anti-racist Labour councillors were hopefully elected) to raise these matters, nothing except her clear desire to damage the Labour Party while Corbyn is at the helm.

Berger’s uncritical collusion with Tory racists continued the following month. The Tories had cynically called a Commons debate on antisemitism unrelated to any motion. It was aimed at piling pressure on Corbyn, even closer to local election day.

By now, though, the Tories were reeling from the Windrush Scandal. The day before the antisemitism debate, David Lammy made his powerful speech about the victims of the Tories’ hostile environment and the “national day of shame”. After that intervention, we may have expected any Labour members participating in the antisemitism debate, called by the Tories, to at least question the Tories’ double standards on racism whether it was Windrush or dodgy alliances in Europe.

Berger had ample time to make all her points. She was warmly cheered by the Tories after a speech which contained not a word about hostile Tory policies and alliances. It focused on the abuse she had suffered, and directed blame for it towards Corbyn and his supporters.

Her tunnel vision and hypocrisy on these matters is abundantly clear, and really her contempt for her local members should not be indulged by those who know better.

Meanwhile, here are some updates from Skwawkbox

Wavertree rejects bullying smears

10th February 2019

Formby’s email to Wavertree empathises with Berger but exonerates CLP

10th February 2019

Austin re-writes history to attack Formby and Liverpool

11th February 2019


Comments (6)

  • dave says:

    I don’t think there is much we can do about all this. The antisemitism and bullying narrative is universally promoted by all the mainstream media and by nearly all Labour people invited as interviewees. I think the best approach is to just leave the right wing MPs alone. Marginalising them by ignoring them can be a good tactic.

  • Rick Hayward says:

    I think the right’s demand for ‘transparency’ should be used to combat the narrative.

    Their notion of ‘transparency’ is publication of figures about ‘accusations’.

    I think we should demand chapter and verse transparency, which allows us to judge the validity of accusations in relation to Labour members, and the justice of any subsequent disciplinary action.

    I am aware that Jackie Walker’s case comes up soon.

  • Danny says:

    I do not understand why the motions of No Confidence were withdrawn. It seemed pretty gutless to me.

    I very much hope that Wavertree CLP will stand firm and will pass a new no confidence vote in Luciana before too long, and then deselect her in favour of someone more socialist and more loyal to the Labour Party.

  • LM Santamera says:

    Besides everything else she should be deselected because she is very bad at her job. She’s lazy and never took the time to understand the people in her constituency or Liverpool. She was imposed on us by the BLIARITES and thought she had a nice comfortable and safe seat for life. Well she got that dead wrong. I hope Wavertree deselect her. If she can’t bring herself to support Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister then she has no business in our Party.

  • Peter Whalen says:

    Another really perceptive article by Dave Rosenberg.

    I only wish he was an MP and could reach a wider audience. Keep up the good work mate!

  • David Stretton says:

    Just heard that Ms Berger has left the LP and become a “independent” MP. Which begs the question how much did Tom Watson know about this when he came to her rescue accusing Liverpool Wavertree branch of anti-Semitism and bullying when they tried to hold a vote of no confidence citing her undermining the leadership and her involvement in a splinter group as reasons.

Comments are now closed.