The last Grill of 2015 saw Luciana Berger, recently appointed Shadow Minister for Mental Health, put to the flame by David at Corney and Barrow's Devonshire Terrace wine bar in Devonshire Square. An excellent grill for lunch was followed by an interesting session.
Introducing Luciana, David referred to the fact that she seems to have courted controversy to which she replied 'You should not believe everything you read on Wikipedia'.
Moving on, Luciana was asked whether psychotherapists should be more regulated in the UK as they are in the United States, whether it was possible to obtain accurate figures concerning suicide as a result of the Back to Work schemes and whether people who were sectioned were treated with sufficient dignity and if the laws around sectioning needed changing. She agreed that the psychotherapists would have an increasing role to play and that the stigma attached to mental illness needed addressing. As far as suicide was concerned, she said, and confirmed under pressure, that the largest cause of death in men under 55 was suicide. Jokingly, David said 'It's alright, I'm well past that!'
On young people, Luciana was asked what needed to be done to engage them in politics. She said it was obvious given the number of young people joining the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn's election that the answer was a new approach which Jeremy Corbyn was delivering.
On the question of housing, particularly in London, the answer was to provide more properties through local authorities and housing associations. In central Liverpool, out of a population of 300,000, there were 15,000 officially homeless.
The final question came from Josh Gray of Gorkana: 'I noticed that there is much change that you would like to implement. Which one item is currently a top priority for the party?' The reply was interesting because she said on an ideological note, it would be to create an environment where food banks were not necessary. She thought it was shameful that in Britain, in 2015, there were over one million people relying on food banks. However, she said that on a practical basis, it would be to make sure that there was a full working mobile phone signal on every train in the country.
“Clearly we live in interesting times,” said David, “the advance in communications and the mobile phone I think played a part in the breakup of the USSR in the late eighties, and it’s now your top priority for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Watch this space!”