Monday, May 04, 2009

The challenge of leadership

I doubt that Sir Albert Bore has ever really felt much sympathy for Mike Whitby, currently the leader of Birmingham City Council, but perhaps he might over the coming weeks. For years, Albert faced an annual challenge and a month or so of rumour and counter-rumour in the run-up to the Labour Group AGM. Well, that isn't restricted to the Labour Group, for the Tories are playing the same game.

As the Birmingham Post reveals, and as the Stirrer has reported for a little while, dissatisfaction within the ranks of the Tory group has reached boiling point and Whitless will face a challenge from the outgoing deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Randal Brew. All it will take will be 25 votes in a secret ballot at the end of the month and the leadership will pass gracefully to the patrician Brew.

Needless to say, leadership battles in the Tory group are no less viscious and back-biting than in any other party and Whitless' guard poodle, Alan Rudge, is on the attack, giving a fluffy savaging to Brew's hopes:
"I can't see that Randal has the qualities necessary to replace Mike... He's a nice enough guy, I've known him for years, but being a nice person doesn't make you a good leader and doesn't mean he is capable of doing it... I sometimes think he is a bit weak. You have to have a clear line on what you are thinking on policies. He sounds like he is equivocating.... You need some clear and basic principles, you have to believe in what you are saying and know you won't please everyone"

Good Lord, that's quite heavy on the record counter-briefing against a party colleague. Methinks that Fudge isn't well aware that a Brew victory will mean that the Fudge career train will be shunted swiftly onto a siding and left to rot.

This whole affair has kicked off because a number of Tory backbenchers feel 'mushroomed' by their local leadership (kept in the dark and fed a diet of shit). Annoucements have been made without any reference to the rank and file councillors - over the Black Hole Library of Birmingham; the plans to revive the Birmingham municipal bank; and the decision to fund new swimming pools across Birmingham (but especially in Whitless' own backyard). Most recently, the decision to gift Warwickshire Cricket Club a handy £20 million towards the ground redevelopment scheme (which now appears to have a very weak financial case and has been scaled back) and the disgraceful refusal of Whitless to attend a scrutiny committee hearing into the decision - preferring an urgent ballet performance instead - has brought this to a head.

This promises to be most entertaining....

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