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Mike Whitby photobombs No10’s mayoral launch – and PM promises a cabinet of the mayors

Mike Whitby photobombs No10’s mayoral launch – and PM promises a cabinet of the mayors

🕔27.Mar 2012

BIRMINGHAM’s Tory leader Mike Whitby will complete his oil tanker u-turn on elected mayors with articles in the national press and the Birmingham Post this week to declare his bid to be the Conservative candidate in the city.

The ebullient Cllr Whitby ensured he was at the very front of the crowd at this afternoon’s Downing Street reception to hear David Cameron announce the formation

of a ‘cabinet of the city mayors’ which the PM would chair when there were enough mayors to go round after May’s referenda.

Mr Whitby nodded in enthusiastic agreement as first Lord Heseltine then the PM extolled the virtues of elected mayors, apparently unperturbed by the oft repeated implication that current city leaders (including, presumably, him) weren’t delivering.

His impersonation of an over-excited puppy was completed as he bounded over to have his picture taken with the PM, his previous antipathy to elected mayors but a distant memory. He all but elbowed fellow guests out of the way to lunge for the hand of the PM.

The irony wasn’t lost on other members of the Birmingham contingent, many of whom still bear the scars of relatively recent Whtiby diatribes against ‘elected dictators.’

The photo-op over, Mr Whitby then tried to dodge questions raised by Hezza’s announcement that the Birmingham leader had ‘come round’ to the idea of mayors, confirming only that ‘David has asked me to write a piece for The Times that we will also give to the Post’.

I’m full of admiration for Mike’s chutzpah. Not only is he bounding happily towards certain defeat in May’s council election, but is going for the double with another guaranteed trouncing at the polls in November. What a way to end a political career.

Perhaps the deepest irony of the Number 10 knees-up, was the sight of the Conservative Prime Minister passionately endorsing elected mayors for the English cities, watched by a no-hope Tory candidate whose presence on the ballot sheet suggests Mr Cameron is not taking the contest very seriously at all.

The only other thing to note from today’s event was the absence of any of the putative Labour candidates, presumably each too embroiled in the Party-infighting over selection rules to risk being seen in the same room as a Tory PM up to his neck in the cash-for-access row.

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