Great Uncle Manny

Luciana Berger and Roger Robinson, photographed for the CNJ by Dan Carrier last year

With her unmistakable Scouse accent, Luciana Berger, the former council candidate in Somers Town who ended up as an MP for Liverpool Wavertree, made her maiden speech in the House of Commons at the end of last week.

This was the sign-off:

Nearly 90 years ago, my great-uncle, Manny Shinwell, newly elected as the Member for Linlithgowshire, made his maiden speech to this House. It feels almost eerie now to echo the words that he said then, that ‘in opposition we would bring every kind of pressure-constitutional pressure, I may say-to bear on the Government in order to compel the Government to implement the pledges they gave’.

Ah, great uncle Manny Shinwell. By chance, the legendary trade unionist who was a minister in Clement Atlee’s post-war government was also a great uncle to a councillor who has stuck it out in Somers Town. Like Berger did last week, the long-serving Labour councillor Roger Robinson has often quoted Shinwell’s oratory in his own feisty speeches in Camden Town Hall chamber over the years. He too counts Manny as his great uncle.

But Roger only realised he and Luciana were cousins – twice removed – when she showed an interest in standing for a place on Camden Council in his ward  at a selection meeting last year. At the time, she declared herself as living in the ward in College Place, part of the reason she later had to deal with local claims on Merseyside that she had been parachuted into a safe Labour seat. Manny, no doubt, would have been proud of them both.

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