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.