On The Stirrer, John Hemming innocently asks if it is proper for the Respect candidate in Sparkbrook to be a council employee - as it has been rumoured. A good rule in politics is never to ask a question unless you are sure of the answer.
My sources suggest that the gentleman in question has handed in his resignation, but the rules state that you have to have served your 30 days notice AND cleared the council payroll by the time nominations closed - which takes a further 30 days. His consent to nomination form includes paragraphs confirming that he is a valid candidate.
Just to explain for civilians - you cannot stand for a council that employs you, although you can run for a different council. A Birmingham City Council employee could run for Solihull council. Anyone can run for parliamentary or European election - with an exception. The exception would be a politically restricted post - a council employee of significant seniority is prohibited from holding posts within a political party or running for any election. That's a complex piece of legislation simplified, but you get the general idea.
Now, here's the clever bit. John Hemming knows the rules exceptionally well and knew about this some weeks ago.
Leaving it until now means that the candidate has a choice. He can withdraw before Wednesday, but Respect can't nominate a replacement as nominations closed last Friday, leaving a run off in Sparkbrook between the Lib Dems, Labour and Talib Hussain (the former Bond baddie, turned Liberal, turned Independent). I know other parties are standing, but I'm not going to bet the ranch on the BNP, the Tories or the Greens coming through the gap and winning.
The alternative is even more entertaining - say the candidate decides to tough it out and goes into the poll and IS ineligible. He doesn't have to win, he just has to get enough votes to potentially make a difference to the result. In that case, the patented John Hemming Acme Election Petition Generator will whirr into action and produce a legal document. When this gets to the election commissioner, he - or she - can not only void the election but can also demand that the party fielding the ineligible candidate covers the costs of the rerun.
Anyone know how deep George Galloway's pockets are? We could be about to find out.
Latest story here on the Birmingham Post.
The candidate in question has stated that he left the council formally on the 23 March, having given notice in January. It has also been suggested that this is yet another Lib Dem smear tactic and I appear to have landed in the middle as a co-conspirator according to Paul Dale in the Post. Anyone who has read this blog for any period of time will know just how big a load of cobblers that idea is. My sources could be wrong and I may have made a genuine error in my understanding of the law - I'm not a lawyer (although I know a few). Anyway, as with all internet postings, your mileage may vary.