Regular readers of this blog and my tweets (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be aware that right wing newspapers have been trying to dig into my personal finances and those of my wife since the President of my fan club – Grant Shapps – suggested that the DCLG Select Committee should look at the financing of the Kemp operation!
I was hugely flattered by this as the Kemp operation is me working very hard! However on the basis that Tories think that women are the third rib of their husband the search has been extended to the finances of my wife, Erica.
The two newspapers that looked at it dropped the investigation quickly when they realised that there was no substance to the heart of the rumour that the Tories were trying to spread that I as a leading member of the LGA got money passed to the Leadership Centre to employ my wife. The LGA does not give money to the Leadership Centre; if it did we operate the same strong controls about declaration of interests, leaving the room etc that is applied in councils. Could I also make clear that Erica is not my third rib! She is her own woman and quite capable of earning her own living without my interference.
So now the story has changed. The Sunday Express has been given new orders from Tory HQ. The Kemps earn too much money from the public sector. I have in front of me our tax returns for last year. In total I earned £61,400 before tax and Erica earned £32,145 before tax. These are not small sums of money but even together we are hardly in banker territory. Apparently this is too much from the public sector although as about 40% of people work in the public sector I am afraid that I cannot follow the argument.
They have spent considerable amounts of time on this e-mailing any organisation that Erica and I have been connected with or worked for. They have checked at Companies House whether we are a limited company or not. They have dug round in Liverpool to discover that I used to work as an estate agent – but didn’t know that I stopped doing that in 1981! Haven’t they anything better to do with their time?
Do I earn too much money? Well I am quite prepared to justify what I earn. I work 60+ hours per week and am:
- Vice Chair of the LGA
- Ward Councillor for Church Ward
- Chair South Central District Committee of the City Council
- Vice Chair of the European & International Board of the LGA
- Chair of the Political Management Committee of UCLG
- Board Member of LAMIT
I also do many more things including doing most of the media work for the LGA. I understand that my rugged good looks give reassurances to viewers about local government!!
I have not inherited any of these positions from my father! I have had to be elected or appointed to them. All people who elect or appoint me have always been aware of the amount of work that I have done and still chose to elect or appoint me. This May I will be up for election and I face the voters of Church Ward confident that even if they do not vote for me they respect the work that our team does here day in and day out. I have, in fact, just come back from 3 hours of leaflet delivering and my advice centre and will shortly go out again!
I do object to my wife being brought into arguments between me and the Tories. It is underhand, scheming politics and betrays the fact that they are not prepared to engage in the face discussion to move things forward that I have been asking for.
At the end of the day politics should be about strategies, polices and principles. People from all Parties should be prepared to meet, discuss, try to share ground and move agendas on especially in very difficult financial times like these.
So the article may or may not be in the Sunday Express tomorrow. I won’t ask you to go and but one to check as I won’t be doing. I have been the Leader of the Lib Dems in Local Government for 6 years and a councillor for 28. Never have I known a more corrosive time in UK politics and never has it been harder to get people to stand for election in all Parties. When the Tories play nasty games like this and are supported by journals that used to people Newspapers of record it just sinks politics a little bit further into the cess pit that most arm chair critics are sure we have lived in for a long time.
I don’t normally ask this but please bring this article to the attention of everyone who follows you. Erica and I have nothing to hide and you helping to circulate this will prove it.