A couple of interesting things have arisen from this.
Firstly, Salma has issued an absolute denial - claiming that the picture was personal, that she explicitly refused consent for its use for party political purposes and that she does not support the Conservatives in Lozells. Fair enough - and I think it would have been a huge jump to assume that Cllr Yaqoob would be likely to support the Tories - indeed, she has called upon people to vote Green at the European elections.
Secondly, it has been revealed by Cllr Mullaney that the Conservative agent for this election is none other than former Bond-baddy Hussain, Talib Hussain. Talib is a former Lib Dem councillor, failed parliamentary candidate and Cabinet member who was summarily removed for, erm, not following instructions from Tory High Command. He was then chucked out of the Liberal Democrats and spent the rest of his term glowering at the lot of 'em from a seat just in front of Sir Albert on the Labour side of the chamber. It appears that Talib has been to more parties than Paris Hilton - he was a Labour member who was refused approval as a council candidate, a Lib Dem, allegedly very briefly a member of Respect, then I believe he formed the 'Community Independent Party UK' (with Raja Khan as one of the candidates) and has now decided to leave active politics by joining the Conservative Party. There's only the Green Party and UKIP to go before he's got his Panini album of party membership cards completed.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is what this says about the Conservative Party. I can't think of an occasion when a photograph of a candidate getting all friendly with the national leader of an opposition party has been used on an election leaflet before.
Raja Khan has certainly stirred up a publicity storm with this one. Obviously, the aim is to associate him with Salma, who is well thought of in the Pakistani community, in the hope that some of her stardust rubs off on him. A picture like this certainly says a lot more than the vapid and ungrammatical text that comprises the leaflet.
Equally interesting is the location for the picture - the recent Unite march for jobs in Birmingham. Last time I checked, Unite were affiliated to the Labour Party. The speakers at the rally were certainly not supporting Conservative policy - Tony Woodley reminded us of the history of Conservative response to economic problems.
We cannot risk seeing another forgotten generation who cannot find work and have their lives ruined as a result. We must not replay the nightmare 1980s where there was misery for millions of our people and with whole communities wrecked.The demands of the march don't seem to tie in with Tory policy either - especially the call for greater protection for workers from redundancy and short-time working subsidies like those being applied in Germany.
The irony deepens still further when you remember that within days of the march, a Conservative backbench councillor in Birmingham challenged for the leadership of the City Council with a blithe promise to scrub 3000 people from the payroll.
Perhaps the real reason for the anger stirred up by Cllr Mullaney was that he felt that blindly supporting the Conservatives and leaping aboard any passing bandwagon is the job of the Liberal Democrats in Birmingham and he doesn't want Respect muscling in on his turf.