Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, the rise of extremism and the General Election were top of the agenda in Hendon last week when counter-extremist Maajid Nawaz hosted a session in conversation with Lib Dem Finchley and Golders Green Parliamentary Candidate Luciana Berger at Brampton College, London’s top performing sixth form, for parents and students keen to hear from two prominent public supporters of inclusion and honesty in an increasingly alarmist setting dominated by fake news.
Maajid interviewed Luciana about her decision to leave the Labour party in response to her experience of anti-Semitism, potential outcomes of the General Election and the rise of extremism and racism in politics, with the last 30 minutes of the session devoted to questions from the audience.
Luciana spoke about her profound shock at encountering anti-Semitism in a party focused on equality and anti-racism, and she shared that she had never imagined she would have to leave due to racism in its ranks. She was also passionate in her assertion that the Liberal Democrats would under no circumstances support either a Johnson or Corbyn government – a point which is very significant for her constituency. Maajid Nawaz reminded the audience of Luciana’s political heritage and in particular of her great uncle, the late Labour MP Manny Shinwell.
A Q&A session with students covered wide-ranging topics such as Brexit – a strong Remainer, Luciana believes that there is no deal better than the current agreement the UK has with the EU. Luciana also spoke to environmentally conscious students about climate change – describing it as the greatest issue of the day and top of the list for the Lib Dems to tackle. Barnet is one of the few councils in London that has not declared a climate emergency; Luciana intends to work tirelessly to combat this, particularly in improving poor recycling provision by the council.
Luciana joined the Lib Dems following her decision to leave the Labour Party in February 2019 when she branded it ‘institutionally racist’. During her time in Parliament she has served as a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Shadow Minister for Public Health and was the first ever Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health. Improving mental health services is a key priority for Luciana – in particular, she has campaigned for the inclusion of Mental Health First Aiders in large workplaces. Also on Luciana’s agenda for her constituency are tackling the housing crisis, combatting cuts to school funding and reducing crime levels.
Maajid is an author, columnist, presenter at LBC and a renowned counter-extremist. He is the Founding Chairman of Quilliam – a globally active organisation which focuses on matters of integration, citizenship and identity, religious freedom, immigration, extremism and terrorism.
The talk formed an integral part of Brampton’s student and parent guest speaker programme that focuses on pressing current social, philosophical and economic affairs affecting the world today. In today’s politically turbulent environment, the college’s strategy to inspire young people to be politically aware and equipped with a robust sense of social justice has never been more important.
Commenting on the event, Bernard Canetti, Principal at Brampton College, said “It was an honour to hear from two such extraordinary and controversial public figures with remarkable life stories. They have both consistently spoken out in favour of tolerance, inclusion and honesty in a political climate which has become divisive; where truth, honesty and decency have been in short supply. The evening was a fantastic opportunity for our students to hear these voices of moderation in an increasingly extremist political environment.”
To view videos of the event, please visit the Brampton College website: https://www.bramptoncollege.com/2019/12/04/brampton-colleges-election-special/