What a CBE looks like
I know that many of you regularly ask yourselves the same question that I ask myself. “Why on earth did Erica marry Richard?” The replies I get from Erica when I have the temerity to broach the subject range from “It’s an act of Christian Charity”, to “I must have done something very wrong in a past life!”
I have written two blogs in the past two years ‘In praise of Cllr Erica Kemp’ and thought that I would have to wait until she steps down as Lord Mayor in May before doing another. However Her Majesty the Queen has given me another opportunity to boast of my good fortune by awarding Erica a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this award. As I have remarked before the type of work that Erica does in her quiet and calm way often misses the recognition that it deserves.
For the past ten years Erica has a done a lot of work behind the scenes both at the Council and in national local government circles.
In Liverpool she has never been an arm waver (one in a family is enough) but she has won admiration from all sides as a Spokesperson or Chair of the Children’s Services Committee. For four years she chaired the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and gave that committee a real sense of purpose and a real role in holding the Executive to account.
Nationally she did much work both for the Audit Commission inspecting councils and Fire Authorities. More importantly she made many contributions to the work of the IDeA. In this role she mentored Lib Dem Groups who had gained control of councils and assisted councillors of all Parties develop their scrutiny role. Inside the Lib Dems she is better known as the person who ran the Next Generation programme for 7 years coaching and assisting many young councillors go on to lead councils or hold senior Cabinet positions.
In Church Ward she is an incredibly hard worker and seems to know most people and most people seem to know her. She and I share a passionate belief that we are above all local councillors; then city councillors and only when we have spent 90% of our time doing those two things do we become party political councillors.
So I am very proud to be sorting out a new suit and a table for the family at the National Liberal Club to celebrate the event. It is now 3.5 years since my own CBE came through and we believe we are the only 2 CBE partnership in the Country!
My own news for 2015 is that I have been asked to lead a review of UCLG, the World Local Government Association. UCLG goes from strength to strength and is particularly gaining in influence at the level of UN and its affiliates such as UNESCO and UNICEF. Its growth in influence has not always been accompanied by a growth in its membership or communications strategies. I will be working with a small team to look at how UCLG operates; where capacity needs to be increased and how it can work better with partner organisations. That should keep the air miles flowing!
So for both of us there is a great start to 2015. But above all this is a boost for Erica and all women councillors whose quiet style of politics often gets overlooked in the testosterone practices of politics. Politics would be much better if 65% of elected representatives in the UK were women and not men. It would be gentler, calmer and more sustainable. Perhaps Erica’s award will encourage more women to come out of the shadows and stake their claim to their type of leadership.