Monday, May 08, 2006

Follow the Leader

That time of year rolls round again and rumours are abroad about a leadership challenge. Not, for once, to Sir Albert (I'm not sure there's another credible candidate), but to Mike Whitless, the leader of the Tory group on the City Council and also the leader of the peculiar bunch who claim to run the Council. Here's the stary-eyed, grinning maniac with a terrified President of the European Committee of the Regions. This is the face of my city. No, really, he is. People voted for that man. Sometimes, the public baffles me.

The rumour is that John Alden feels that the time is right to put Whitby out of our misery and that the bearded wonder is just the man for the job. Doubtless the election of one of John's sons to the Erdington seat won't hurt the old man's chance of success and Sir Albert has been cheerfully spreading the rumour of an assault on Whitless. That could have been why someone was spreading the poison to the press about Cllr Alden in advance of the local elections and calling him 'Calamity' Alden over a short chain of errors.

The question is, if John Alden takes over as Tory leader, can the LibDem/Tory coalition hold together? Or would John prefer to do business with Sir Albert?

The Tories - and the Aldens in particular - are known to be very unhappy with their forced marriage to the philandering Liberal Democrats. Deirdre Alden is particularly unhappy as it has been rumoured that the Tories put up a 'paper' candidate in Yardley to help John Hemming win in 2005 in return for the Liberal Democrats doing the same in Edgbaston. The Tory candidate was duly appointed, did the bare minimum and continued that party's decline in Yardley, while the Lib Dem actually did some work in Edgbaston to increase the party's vote, helping to deny Deirdre her seat on the benches at Westminster.

There could be a few interesting weeks ahead.


Richard Allen said...

I doubt that mant Tories would be too sad to see Mike Whitby get the boot although few would be convinced that John Alden would do a better job.

A switch of coalition partners is however extremely unlikely. Firstly the only recent Lab-Con coalition of formal standing was in Rochdale where it caused huge anger on both sides. Secondly the Tories would be the junior partner (by 1 seat) and so the best deal that could hope for would by a 5-5 cabinet and some kind of rotating leadership. They would be mad to give up the current arangements for such a deal.

Bob Piper said...

They would be mad? I'd be f***ing furious! The notion of doing a deal with the Tories and cuddling up around the Cabinet table with the is just repugnant.

Anonymous said...

Of course the Lib Dem candidate in Edgbaston was 'mad' Mike Dixon who now appears to be their Birmingham organiser. He may have annoyed Deidre, but what entertainment value.

We have a lot to thank Edgbaston Lib Dems for, they preceded 'mad' Mike with Nicola 'Nokia' Davies and who can forget her valuable contribution to the Hodge Hill by-election?

Perhaps if Mark Oaten is going to be looking for a seat next time round, he should give them a call.

PoliticalHack said...


Bob - the Labour administration was supported by the Tories in the run-up to the 2004 elections in Brum.

Radders said...

"Mad" Mike was definitely a paper candidate. Especially as he was the organiser in Stratford at the GE.
Maybe it was Lab "dirty tricks" in getting the Mirror to trap Mike on liberal topics like sex education and age of consent that he has spoken on at conference?

Bob Piper said...

There is a difference between "supported by" and doing a deal involving Cabinet positions and even the Deputy Leadership.

TonyF said...

Bob, that is true. But I seem to recall that, as an ex Lib Dem candidate, we heavily criticised the Tories for this then went on to make a deal.
The interesting part of it was Hemming gathering the Lib Dems together at the Council House to vote on the idea when he and the elected Councillors had already signed up for it.Liberal Democracy at it's best.

Richard Allen said...


That is what happens in politics. Albert Bore denounced the whole idea of the coalition but he would have done a similar deal with the Lib Dem's if he could of.

PoliticalHack said...

True, Bob.

And if I recall correctly, the scrutiny committees were headed by Tories - effective scrutiny was led by the opposition.

PoliticalHack said...

Labour could work happily with half of the LibDems - that bunch led by Mick Wilkes. It is the Hemming faction that causes grief for everybody.

TonyF said...

You mean the lot that work for him. Chalk another one up with 'Oor Ernie'