Thursday, June 08, 2006

Leadership race

Someone hit a raw nerve in the council chamber on Tuesday.

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.


Anonymous said...

I thought that Karen Hamilton was a councillor for Perry Bar, so why would people in Moseley expect to be told that she is black (not that it matters either way as long as she does a good job)?

Anonymous said...

You seem to have forgotten either Ernie or Karen Hamilton in totting up the number of black LDs.
I seem to remember seeing a Labour leaflet delivered in parts of Moseley that did make a point of portraying Ernie. Pot kettle black?

Anonymous said...

I was going to to say remember Karen Hamilton and Ernie Hendricks but I see that this has been pointed out in previous posts. On reading the article in the Birmingham Post they too have difficulty in identifying how many councillors are from an ethnic minority group. They are happy to comment but do not make sure that they have their facts right. Even when corrected they still print that there are only 3 African Caribbean councillors. Are they being ignored for a particular purpose?

Anonymous said...

Whitby gave a typical performance on the Doolan Show yesterday, flapping around all over the place. He must have been asked three or more times to read a transcript of what he said.

When he finally did, the words 'If the Councillor wants to represent Burnley or Oldham she can do.' apparently didn't mean 'why don't you go to Burnley or Oldham'.

Disingenuous or stupid? You decide.

Lamely, Salma Yacoob accepted an apology that would have done a 10 year old proud:

1. You chose to misunderstand me.
2. I was right.
3. If by misunderstanding what I was saying you have got upset then I am sorry you have got upset.
4. By the way I have got my fingers crossed, so it doesn't count.

OK, I made the last bit up. In other parties or on other Councils, Whitby wouldn't still be in the leaders office.