Salma Yaqoob, the new RESPECT councillor for Sparkbrook, questioned the Dear Leader himself as to why the council's political leadership is largely male and exclusively white. Now, Whitless has an excuse - that's the makeup of the Tory party on the council to a man (funny how none of their hard-working Asian members have ever been successful in selection for a winnable seat, isn't it?), but as the Post pointed out a while ago, 7 of the 33 Liberal Democrat councillors are Asian and one is black (although the LDs have a habit of glossing over those facts when it suits - just ask the residents of Moseley). Not one of those councillors is apparently capable of taking a Cabinet chair or even that of a scrutiny committee. Until May, the Deputy Leadership of the LD group was held by an Asian councillor, but even that has now gone to a relative newbie - who also ticks the white, middle class boxes.
Whitby's response - nastily telling Cllr Yaqoob to go off to Burnley or Oldham - doesn't befit a senior councillor and has some unpleasant overtones. She was asking a reasonable question and deserved a reasonable answer, not to be slapped down for getting a bit uppity.
But there is good news, Whitless told the press that
'he hoped the absence of ethnic minority representation at scrutiny committee chairmen level would be resolved soon.'Given that these posts have just been decided by the LD AGM, someone is going to have to give way and it won't look at all like tokenism. Honest.