Luciana Berger: Anti-Semitism campaigner who lost on her return ‘home’ to London

Luciana Berger parachuted into the North London seat of Finchley and Golders Green, hoping her Jewish background could be a factor in attracting voters who rejected Labour over concerns of growing anti-Semitism in the party. It was not enough.

Ms Berger, originally from Wembley in north-west London, sacrificed the Liverpool Wavertree seat she held for almost a decade to become the Liberal Democrats’ candidate in the constituency, but lost out to the Conservatives.

The 38-year-old mother-of-two walked out on Labour in the spring of 2019, becoming one of a glut of disillusioned MPs fleeing mainstream parties to form The Independent Group.

General Election 2019
General Election 2019

She cited a “sea of cases” of anti-Semitism within Labour, accusing its top brass of choosing to “brush under the carpet” any complaints.

Ms Berger said she had become “embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party” which she had “come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic”, despite her best attempts to raise concerns.

She said: “Not only did it not get any better, but it got worse and there has to come a moment when you say enough really is enough.

“I couldn’t change things from within and sadly, as I said then and I feel very strongly today, the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Her efforts to garner the support of frustrated Labour voters among the Jewish community were given something of a fillip following the unprecedented intervention of the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who said that the “overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour government.

But it was not enough.

And on Thursday, its constituents voted to stick with Conservative incumbent Mike Freer.