Luciana Berger says Labour not perfect but ‘on right trajectory’ under Starmer

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Luciana Berger has spoken of the warm reception that has greeted her since she returned to Labour, but she admitted the party is still “not perfect”.

The former Labour MP walked out on the party in the spring of 2019 after facing a torrent of antisemitic abuse.

But the Jewish politician announced on Saturday she had rejoined after an “incredibly heartfelt” invitation from leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The party leader’s letter, in which Sir Keir called her departure a “stain on Labour’s history”, came after the equalities watchdog’s decision earlier this month to take Labour out of special measures following its failure to deal with anti-Jewish racism among its membership.

Everything’s not fixed, everything’s not perfect, but certainly the party has returned to a place that it should be

Luciana Berger

Ms Berger, speaking to Times Radio on Sunday, said: “I’ve been really struck just in the past — not even — 24 hours since it has been shared publicly that I’ve returned to the Labour Party, by the warmth and the kind of emotion that has been shared with me by people who are so pleased that I have returned to my political home.”

But she admitted that, while the party was now “on the right trajectory” under Sir Keir’s leadership, there was still work to be done.

“I left the Labour Party because I couldn’t sleep at night — I can now sleep at night,” Ms Berger added.

“And it’s under Keir’s leadership and what he’s now doing — everything’s not fixed, everything’s not perfect, but certainly the party has returned to a place that it should be.

“And it’s on a journey to certainly turn things around and we’re seeing, I think, evidence of that.”

She exited the party while it was embroiled in an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into what the Londoner described as a “sea of cases” of antisemitism during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader.

A damning report by the watchdog would conclude in 2020 that the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.

Mr Corbyn rejected some of the report’s findings and claimed the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by his critics.

His comments led to Labour’s headquarters suspending him from the party.

Sir Keir accepted the watchdog’s recommendations and the EHRC ruled at the end of January that it was satisfied with the party’s subsequent reforms.

Those included consulting with the Jewish community on setting up an independent complaints handling process.

The Opposition leader, responding to the EHRC’s ruling, said it was an “important moment” but “not one for celebration”.

In 2019, Ms Berger became one of several disillusioned MPs fleeing mainstream parties to form The Independent Group.

She would later contest the Finchley and Golders Green constituency, an area with a prominent Jewish population, for the Liberal Democrats at that year’s snap winter election.

The former Liverpool Wavertree MP managed to dislodge Labour as the second party but lost to the Conservatives by 6,500 votes.

During the lengthy radio interview on Sunday, Ms Berger said she “wouldn’t rule out” fighting to become a Labour MP again at a future general election.

However, she said she was “not chomping at the bit to go back” and saw other ways, outside of returning to Westminster, of campaigning for a Labour government.