Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Luciana Berger shows what it will take to survive in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party

You may have seen the front page lead of today's Guardian: a deeply worrying story about a sudden spike in the number of mental health patients dying unexpectedly in NHS care.

It was based on figures obtained by the former health minister Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk.

The Guardian quoted Norman's comment on the figures:
"Significant numbers of unexpected deaths at the Mid Staffs NHS trust caused an outcry and these figures should cause the same because they show a dramatic increase in the number of people losing their lives,” Lamb said. 
“NHS England and the government should set up an investigation into the causes of this as these figures involve tragedies for families around the country and the human impact is intense.” 
Underfunding of sometimes threadbare mental health services which are struggling to cope with rising demand for care is to blame, Lamb claimed.
One of the best things about politics since 2010 has been the new importance given to questions of mental health. This was exemplified by the 2012 debate in which MPs from both sides of the Commons spoke about their own experience of mental health problems.

So how did Luciana Berger, Labour's shadow mental health minister, respond to Norman Lamb's comments?

Let me show you:

Why did Berger break from the cross-party approach to mental health?

It is certainly not because she is a wild left-winger.

Though, as the great niece of Manny Shinwell, she has some claim to come from the working-class aristocracy, she comes from an affluent background. She attended the private Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls (current fees £15,516 per annum).

When she was parachuted into the Liverpool Wavertree constituency just before the 2010 election she soon became a controversial figure. She was seen as a Blairite, not least because of her friendship with Euan Blair.

But being a Blairite won't do her any favours now. Not with boundary changes in the air and threats of deselection coming from Corbyn loyalists. Certainly not on Merseyside.

Hence the stupid, partisan tweet we see above.

I am sure Berger is intelligent enough to realise that this approach will alienate the moderate voters Labour needs to win over to have any hope of winning the next election.

But she is trapped. And her fellow moderate Labour MPs are trapped too until they see the opportunity and summon the courage to depose Jeremy Corbyn and his strange inner circle of Trots and Stalinists.

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