Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rt Hon Jane Kennedy announces her retirement from Parliament

I was really sad but not perhaps surprised when Jane Kennedy, our wonderful MP in Liverpool Wavertree announced that she was standing down after what will have been 18 years in Parliament.

I confess I did not know Jane before I moved to Liverpool, although had heard her name mentioned in high places from time to time but we quickly became good friends when I became a member of Liverpool Wavertree constituency Labour Party.

Jane has had the most amazing political career - fighting off Militant in the 1980s, beating Terry Fields in the 1992 election and becoming a Minister in at least four Departments since 1997(I may have missed a few, but there was Northern Ireland, for which alone we owe her an enormous debt for her work, Health, Treasury and Defra (where the NFU still say she is the best they ever had)). She was also the Chair of Labour Friends for Israel and much else besides. I am not ever going to be her biographer because I have not known her long enough, others will know her achievements over the years better than I.

But what I can say with certainty, as a councillor in her constituency, and for my first year in office, the only one, she has backed me to the hilt in everything I have done. Where I needed her support, moral or practical, she has always been there. Where I needed her to have a word in a Ministerial ear, she never failed me, where I needed her to write letters, meet people, speak at meetings, help compose new policies, she has always been solid. When I needed her to campaign with me about local issues in Kensington or Fairfield, to get behind our plans, to suggest new tactics, she was always a wise head.

She has been out with me and other LP members, come rain or shine, knocking on doors and delivering leaflets, every Saturday since I moved here - and doubtless all those that preceded. If there is an MP in this country with less "side" to them, who is more prepared to do her bit, who is more ready to be an ordinary LP member, then I would enjoy meeting them. She has never missed her monthly General Committee meeting, never given less than a full and frank Parliamentary report, never shied from discussing subjects, never fed us any bull, never let us down.

I understand only too well her reasons for standing down and she has stated them herself so I don't need to repeat them here. But what I will say is this, the people of Liverpool Wavertree have lost a great ally and a great friend and she will be a very tough act to follow.

No comments: