The director of Labour Friends of Israel has been chosen as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Wavertree.
Luciana Berger, 28, who is seen as a one of Labour’s rising stars, will stand in the seat currently held by Jane Kennedy, who has been the constituency MP for 18 years.
Ms Berger, of Wembley in London, easily beat off a field of local candidates and is understood to have won a strong majority beating her nearest rival by two votes to one. She has been based in Liverpool since the end of last year. She said: “I am delighted and overwhelmed to have been chosen as the Labour candidate and excited about the fight ahead to help win a fourth term in government.”
But her strong support for Israel and the fact that she has been “parachuted in” from London has already sparked a row over her selection. Veteran Liverpool Walton MP, Peter Kilfoyle, this week branded her a “student politician” and questioned her high-profile support of Israel.
However, she was described by the local party secretary, Peter Dowling, as the most impressive candidate who had the right experience for the job and good local knowledge.
The leader of the Labour Party on Liverpool Council, Joe Anderson, defended the new candidate.
He told the Liverpool Daily Post: “I think 28 is a good age to become an MP. There are many people who would argue that some of our Liverpool MPs are past their sell-by dates, including Peter.”
Boundary changes around the Wavertree constituency mean that Ms Kennedy’s majority is slashed from 5,000 to 3,000 before the election begins. Ms Berger, who worked as a management consultant while building her political career, said: “I know it will be a fight, but I am ready for the challenge.
“The Lib Dems will fight dirty because they have no policies.”
Ms Berger will be boosted by the fact that her constituency has a significant number of Jewish voters.
Five years ago, she resigned from her position as anti-racism co-ordinator of the National Union of Students because of “continued apathy within the NUS to Jewish student suffering”.
She was described by the American website Jewlicious as a “hottie”, when her name was linked to Euan Blair, the son of the former Prime Minister. Her partner is the Culture Minister, Sion Simon.