Rebecca Long-Bailey says she would let Luciana Berger re-join Labour if she becomes leader
Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she would let Luciana Berger re-join Labour if she becomes party leader.
She said the former MP - who quit the party to join The Independent Group before standing as a Lib Dem candidate at the general election - had "had a terrible time" amid claims she was the victim of anti-semitic bullying by Labour members.
Ms Long-Bailey also admitted one of her "big regrets" was failing to contact other female Labour MPs who were subjected to anti-Jewish racism.
In an interview with the Evening Standard the Shadow Business Secretary said the treatment Ms Berger, Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth faced was "terrible because it should never have happened within our party".
Asked if she ever reached out to them, Ms Long-Bailey said: “I didn’t speak to Louise or Luciana or Ruth directly. I wish I had.
“I should have done at the time and that’s another one of my big regrets.”
Despite the fact that she stood for a rival party against Labour - which leads to automatic expulsion under the party's rules - Ms Long-Bailey said she would welcome her former shadow ministerial colleague back into the fold if she was in charge.
“The circumstances for what happened to Luciana were very different from an MP who was just angry with the leadership”, she explained. “She had a terrible time.”
Ms Long-Bailey said she would also like to see former Tony Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell return to Labour, despite the fact that he was expelled for voting Lib Dem at last year’s European elections.
She said: “He’s got a lot of expertise and capability that I wish had been there to help us prior to December.
"We’re a broad church. We can’t have a fight to the death for whichever particular faction wants to be in control of the party.
“Having differences of opinion on policy … and pushing different policy positions is a positive thing.
“And it actually makes us the most electable force in British politics. Unless we bring that diversity together, we’re never going to win a general election.”
Her leadership rival Keir Starmer has also called for Mr Campbell to be re-admitted to Labour, saying: “Alastair is a constituent of mine.
“And he was a long-standing Labour member, a huge contribution to the party.
“I think we need to get past this whole question of chucking people out and expulsions, etcetera.
“The cases we should concentrate on are cases, for example, of anti-Semitism or other racist behaviour within the party.”