“Crash landing” for Luciana Berger in Liverpool Wavertree

Yesterday The Independent profiles the contest in Liverpool Wavertree between Colin Eldridge and Luciana Berger:

Crash landing for Labour candidate parachuted into Liverpool
When London-born Luciana Berger was chosen as the Labour candidate to fight the seat of Liverpool Wavertree three months ago she was tipped as a rising star with a future ministerial career ahead of her. Unfortunately it was not long before things started to go horribly wrong.

There had already been rumblings of discontent within the local party at the imposition of an all-female shortlist for this eminently retainable heartland seat. Then the Labour leadership in London was accused of “parachuting” in the 28-year-old former student leader and one-time friend of Tony Blair’s son Euan. The retiring Liverpool MP Peter Kilfoyle questioned her political experience, dubbing her a “student politician”.

Asked by the local newspaper to answer four questions on her adopted city, Ms Berger stumbled, admitting she had never heard of the legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly, nor did she know who sang “Ferry Across the Mersey” (Gerry & the Pacemakers), The actor and Liverpool celebrity Ricky Tomlinson threatened to stand against her after it emerged that during the candidate selection she had stayed at the house of the outgoing Blairite incumbent MP, Jane Kennedy. So far, so bad.

The gravest threat to Ms Berger’s aspirations came with last week’s dramatic wave of support towards the Liberal Democrats. Even before the leaders’ television debate, Wavertree was down as the Lib Dems’ number one target in the North-west. Labour’s majority in Wavertree has shrunk steadily since 1997, fuelled by a boundary change which puts the Party’s notional advantage over the Liberal Democrats at 3,000 votes. No surprise that Nick Clegg’s very first stop on the electoral trail was to a Penny Lane community centre…

Journalists wanting a serious conversation about politics with Ms Berger are confronted by a gauntlet of Labour Party-imposed obstacles.

All attempts to contact her this week were rebuffed with the explanation that she was too busy meeting constituents. Inquiries about her campaigning movements were ignored. And when she was tracked down to a well-attended hustings meeting at a church, once again she declined the opportunity to converse with a reporter face-to-face.

You can read the full story here.

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