Thursday, March 01, 2007

Playing the man and not the ball

For the past week or so, the ruling group City Council has been attempting to emulate Ron 'Chopper' Harris (only without the charm).

Last week, we had the report from the Audit Commission, which gave the council credit for continued progress in a number of areas, but slated them for poor work in the area of equalities and raised serious issues about the strategic vision possessed by the senior players.

Wise leaders would take the comments on board and learn from the report.

Mike Whitby doesn't fall into that group, unfortunately. He now claims that the CPA assessment team were aggressive in their questioning and that the outcome was affected by one of the experts, who was the former Labour leader of Kirklees council. Tilsley reckons that the CPA report doesn't match up to the report on childrens' services - which it doesn't, because the CPA covers more than just one (much-improved) element of the service that the council offers. Whitless is so fooled by his own propaganda that he thinks that Birmingham is on the verge of gaining a third star, when the reality suggests that unless significant improvements are made by the time of the next CPA, the City could subside to just one.

Following on from that, Mike decided that the best form of defence was to attack. He's accused Labour councillors of being 'buffoons' and launched a most ungentlemanly attack on Cllr Marj Bridle (the Tories are getting a reputation for attacking Labour women - Zoe Hopkins was on the end of it last time). Marj was described as a 'sad legacy' and Whitless used his skills as a sociologist to diagnose her as suffering from schizophrenia, delusion and amnesia. (I thought that was more a task for the psychologists amongst us, but I wouldn't want to disabuse Mickey of his own delusions). Now, I'm certain that this was just so much water off a duck's back to Marj - she's made of sterner stuff than that - but it is out of order to reduce political debate in the chamber to this level of personal abuse.

Naturally, Whitless has had to draw back from his abuse and has partially apologised for his outburst. That sort of comment has no place in the council chamber and is unworthy of a man who claims to lead the Birmingham local authority. I hope that he will make an apology at the next meeting.

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