It ought to come as no surprise that Jane Kennedy has announced that she will not be standing again for the position of PCC, or that she has left the Labour Party. As PCC, she has been virtually invisible to the wider electorate. It is as well to recognise that she was elected to the post on the basis of a miserable 12.7% turnout. Winning 56% of first preferences, it meant that she actually had a paltry 7% of the electors – principally, Labour voters – supporting her.
This ought to be a consideration now that she is to leave her very well paid – £80,000 plus – position. She was, of course, elected on a Labour ticket; but now that she has deserted Labour, should she not resign from her post immediately? After all, this would be an appropriate point for the post to be integrated into the structure of the metromayoralty of Steve Rotheram, as has been the case in Manchester. At the very least, it would surely save a large portion of the £1 million plus per annum cost of the bureaucracy built up by Ms Kennedy.
As for her Labour Party resignation, no one should be surprised, given her record of resignation. Back in 2006, she noisily resigned from her ministerial post under Blair in protest at the appointment of former LCC chief executive David Henshaw to a highly paid government job. I had no quarrel with that – I had written to Blair along with colleagues expressing my own dismay at the appointment. However, resignation can become a habit. It certainly appears to have been the case with Ms Kennedy.
In June of 2009, she again resigned, this time from Brown’s government, amidst accusations of “No.10 bullying”. She said that Brown’s way represented “the kind of politics I had fought against all of my life”. I found this a bit rich, given the way she had abused me – calling me “a f—king coward” – when I led the vote in the Commons against the Iraq War. Many in parliament believed that her 2009 resignation was tied to the failed plot – led by James Purnell – to undermine Brown.
Later that year, she announced in November that she was leaving parliament; and was quoted as saying that part of her reason was that, post the expenses scandal, she would not be able to continue employing her partner, Peter Dowling. Income consideration was no revelation to me. Back in the 1980s, she and her then husband had told me that they felt that the Labour Party owed them a job given what they believed that they had done for the party.
I found this strange. Other than a speech at the 1985 Labour conference, I did not know what they had done any more than many other members in standing up to Militant. In fact, soon after that conversation, Ms Kennedy was given a job in Oldham for NUPE. She did not return until 1992 for the general election. However, it was an indicator of a mindset which apparently never left her, and which remains all too prevalent today amongst elected representatives.
Having announced her retirement, she set about ensuring that her parliamentary successor should be an unknown , young Londoner – Luciana Berger – who had neither knowledge nor experience of Merseyside. Their paths had crossed when Ms Berger worked for Labour Friends of Israel, an organisation which Ms Kennedy had chaired. With Peter Dowling’s position in the constituency Labour party, it is not too hard to see how Ms Berger – who also lived in Ms Kennedy’s Childwall home during her campaign for the seat – won the nomination. Perhaps Ms Kennedy’s latest resignation is connected to that friendship (Berger and is now an independent in parliament, alongside Kennedy’s best friend, Ann Coffey, MP) – I do not know. But if it looks like betrayal, sounds like betrayal…….then it probably is.