AT the risk of sounding patronizing or sexist – which my daughter will vouch I’m certainly not – Luciana Berger is exactly the type of young woman prospective in-laws dream of for their sons or bosses for their businesses.
Intelligent, attractive, charming, witty…her attributes seems endless. And, welded to a steely compassion for social justice, they make the 34-year-old North Londoner ideal lawmaker material, which she is why she’s a popular MP for the working-class Liverpool constituency of Wavertree.
Apart from her obvious qualifications for the role, Ms Berger has a political pedigree, too.
Her great-uncle was Manny Shinwell – later Lord Shinwell of Easington – an unflinchingly gritty, little Scot, who was a minister in Britain’s first post-WW2 government.
One of Labor’s remarkable generation of Jewish class warriors – along with the likes of Herschel Lewis Austin, Maurice Edelman and Ian Mikardo – in the 1930s Shinwell was in the vanguard of those fighting fascism. And never known to have let an anti-Semitic slur go unchallenged, in one House of Commons debate he famously slapped a Conservative MP, who’d told him to ‘Go back to Poland’.
In the inter-war years the Left was a magnet for Jewish progressives and, post-1945, every Labor government and Shadow Cabinet included a clutch of eminent Jews as members or senior advisers.
From the premierships of Clement Attlee to Gordon Brown – via Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and Tony Blair – Jews played key roles in shaping Britain’s destiny. And, though Labor had its fair share of closet Antisemites, the least murmur of it was ruthless quashed.
Shamefully, today’s leadership is a feeble shadow of its honorable past, the party’s ranks now swelled by bigots, whose voguish anti-Zionism has morphed into vicious Jew-bashing.
Many believe the responsibility for this lies with Labor’s ‘accidental’ leader, Jeremy Corbyn, an old-time, ultra-Leftist, fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause, self-proclaimed ‘friend’ of Hezbollah and Hamas, and associate of Holocaust deniers, like Paul Eisen.
The Lenin-lookalike – who only became party commissar because his inept predecessor, the nominally Jewish Ed Miliband, opened the floodgates to assorted militants previously deemed too extreme to be Labor members and they voted Corbyn in – insists he condemns ‘all forms of racism’ (and unfailingly includes Islamophobia in the same breath as Antisemitism).
Corbyn’s platitudes, however, often don’t reflect his deeds.
For instance, at a tetchy meeting with the representatives of Anglo-Jewry, the Labor leader couldn’t bring himself to even mention the name ‘Israel’, despite being heckled to do so.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that since his accession, a spate – or should the collective noun be a ‘spite’? – of gobby Jew-haters has crawled from Labor’s decaying woodwork, believing themselves now unfettered by the propriety of keeping their abhorrent racism to themselves.
Which is why the self-styled People’s Party finds itself firefighting recurrent accusations of tolerating Antisemites and maladroitly dealing with them.
Already mired in a probe into Jew-baiting at Oxford University’s Labor Club, the latest scandal to explode concerns local activist, Vicki Kirby, who was suspended from the party in 2014 for a series of odious Tweets – including: ‘Jews have got big noses’ and ‘Who is the Zionist god? I’m starting to think it may be Hitler’ – then astonishingly re-admitted.
Under pressure from furious Labor MPs, the former parliamentary candidate has been banned again, but this didn’t stop Prime Minister David Cameron goading Corbyn with the demand, ‘Sort out Antisemitism in your party.’
That can’t come quickly enough for Ms Berger, the shadow mental health minister – disparagingly described as the ‘token Jew’ in Labor’s front bench team – who police say once received 2,500 racist Tweets in the space of three days, including a photograph depicting a Nazi yellow star superimposed on her forehead.
But just one Twitter troll – Garron Helm, who used the hashtag ‘#HitlerWasRight’ – has been jailed for sending her hate mail.
Meanwhile, Labor now stands accused of singling out several Jewish lawmakers in a list leaked to MPs and allegedly compiled by Corbyn’s political secretary, Katy Clark, which reportedly classifies parliamentarians as ‘supportive’, ‘neutral’ or ‘hostile’ to their leader.
According to a senior colleague, Ms Berger is one of just two of the party’s hierarchy branded ‘hostile’.
The MP told the Daily Telegraph, ‘I think she is on there because she is Jewish. It is a concern for a number of us who have been looking closely at where Jewish MPs are on that list.’
A spokesman for Corbyn denies it originated from the leader's office and dismisses it as ‘a cowardly attempt to smear Jeremy with a link to Antisemitism.’
But, as Labor hemorrhages Jewish support, where claims against him of being soft on Jew-hatred are concerned, Corbyn seems his own worst enemy, damned by his past acquaintance with terrorists and Holocaust deniers, and of signally failing to forcefully protect his one, Jewish shadow minister.
Conversely, Ms Berger deserves praise for her principled stand in not surrendering to the racists in her midst.
Sympathetic colleagues, however, fear she faces a long, grueling battle before a replacement leader emerges and returns Labor back to being the electable, inclusive and truly progressive party her late great-uncle served so proudly. 


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