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The Laz Word....on Jane Kennedy

As the Labour force's sweetheart enjoys a standing ovation, Larry Neild says the media witchhunt over MP expenses has much to answer for

Published on November 16th 2009.

The Laz Word....on Jane Kennedy

SHE isn’t a scouser but earned the right to call herself a Liverpudlian. So it was no surprise to see her winning a standing ovation in the packed banqueting suite at the Devonshire House Hotel last week.

The public is in no mood to recognise the expenses affair isn’t really a scandal involving everybody with the letters MP after their names

This was Liverpool’s Labour elite paying tribute to soon-to-be ex-MP Jane Kennedy.

It was one of those moments you half expected Jane K to stand up and declare “If I’d known I was this popular I wouldn’t have thrown the towel in.”

After around 25 years in the public spotlight, Jane has announced she won’t be defending her Wavertree seat in next year’s General Election.

Jane was born in Whitehaven, Cumbria, and became on of the University of Liverpool students who graduated and stayed in the city.

Her baptism came in the 1980s when, as local official of the public service union NUPE, she took on the might of the Militant Tendency, then dominating the political landscape in Liverpol.

Jane’s dossier on the tendency’s activities and their methods in the city was critical in the process that led to the expulsion of Derek Hatton and his followers.

It transformed her into a heroine or villain, depending on which side of the line you stood on.

The then care assistant in Liverpool City Council could hardly have known that her political battle in Liverpool would lead to a career that would see her holding key ministerial jobs, including Minister for Northern Ireland.

“I feel as though a whole weight has lifted. I’ve made the right decision,” Jane told me, adding she had been thinking for some time about calling it a day.

The hard work, long hours, below-the-belt tactics from opposition politicians, coupled with the standing politicians currently have in the eyes of the public, conspired to convince Jane to quit.

She will become one of many respected and, dare I say, hard-working Parliamentarians exiting from public life because of the bitter taste created by the high profile expenses scandal.

The public is in no mood to recognise the affair isn’t really a scandal involving everybody with the letters MP after their names.

It’s simple: MP X represents seat Y and to do his or her job needs somewhere to live close the workplace, ie the House of Commons. Do we expect them to bunk down underneath Westminster Bridge?

So we will replace a lot of decent MPs with soul-less and characterless careerist politicians happy to live the lives of saints, or, worse still, wealthy enough not to need help to pay for their London digs.

The irony is next year we will doubtless have a different House of Commons with rookie MPs earning far more than those prematurely driven out by a media-led witch-hunt. That, as they say is democracy.

Meanwhile who will replace Jane Kennedy in Wavertree? Will they parachute in a candidate into what is a relatively safe seat for Labour?

Liverpool has a tradition in sending to Westminster people whose home is in the city, or better still, who served as councillors. People like Bob Wareing, Eddie Loyden, Ken Stewart. It would make more sense to choose a local person, given the shortage of time available.

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Colin's girlfriendNovember 16th 2009.

Will there be a job for me?

DON'T VOTENovember 16th 2009.

Don't worry Wavertree. We can all look forward to Lib Dem Colin Eldridge stepping in to replace Jane at Westminster. Come to think of it I'd prefer the seat to stay vacant.

Ordinary voterNovember 16th 2009.

Sorry to see Jane quit. She has been and is a fine MP, what I would call a good working-class Socialist who fought for her people. We'll no doubt end up with some young trendy-wendy candidate sent up, on GG's orders, on a Virgin express from London, someone who doesn't know her cocktail from a bottle of pale ale.Good luck Jane in whatever you do and thanks for everything you have done for Broadgreen, Wavertree and Liverpool.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2009.

No Colin's girlfriend, there will be no job for you, and hopefully no job either for Colin.

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