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Secret Election Diary: Barry bowls a fast one

Secret Election Diary: Barry bowls a fast one

🕔29.Oct 2015

One of the curious things about the election for the next leader of Birmingham city council is that hardly any of the 78 Labour councillors entitled to vote has said publicly who they are backing.

Presumably the runners – John Clancy, Ian Ward, Mike Leddy and Barry Henley – will each get at least one vote, but how will the remaining 74 votes be allocated?

As far as I am aware, only two of the 74 have expressed a preference.

Majid Mahmood declared for John Clancy early doors and seems destined for a prominent executive position should his man win.

And now the sizeable figure of Hall Green councillor Barry Bowles has crashed onto the scene by announcing his support for Ian Ward, the current deputy leader.

Bowles, who goes by the Twitter name @camphillboiler and describes himself as a rugby fanatic, Arsenal supporter and immigrant from London, is as combative as ever. He used to support Clancy for leader but now realises that was a serious mistake.

Bowles has taken issue with what he describes as Clancy’s ‘flawed’ policies, including plans to provide a free hot meal for all children at council-run nursery and primary schools.

Difficult ground for a Labour councillor to oppose giving free meals to young children, you might think, but Bowles attempts to justify his stance by describing Clancy’s proposal as ‘unworkable’ (he doesn’t explain why) and complaining that the scheme wouldn’t help disadvantaged children at academies and free schools, which is true but nothing whatsoever to do with the council.

In-keeping with the serious nature of the campaign, naughty Clancy supporters have begun putting about the following disgraceful piece of doggerel: “Maggie Thatcher, school milk snatcher. Camphillboiler, school meals spoiler”. How very childish.

The late arrival on the scene of Mike Leddy as the fourth leadership contender appears to have sunk any chances Cllr Ward may have had of victory. Although Leddy is doing his best to deny being a long-term Boreite, it seems clear that the rump of Sir Albert’s closest supporters will vote for Leddy in order to teach Ward a lesson about loyalty.

Poor old Ian has not been forgiven for turning his back on Albert in his hour of need by refusing to offer public support in the last hours of the regime. Not only will he lose support from fanatical Boreites, he stands to lose the backing of undecideds after he unwisely told Chamberlain Files there would be a role for Sir Albert under his “change, but not too much change” administration.

Leddy has taken to sending out a series of extremely wordy policy statements to colleagues (memo to Mike: check your spell checker), the first being on Homes and Communities, which contains the statement that “a home doesn’t necessarily mean houses”.

Finally, on the subject of endorsements, or the lack of endorsements in this race, there are two schools of thought about Clancy, who has not so far published an expected list of prominent supporters. The first theory is that he is struggling to put together such a list.

The second theory is that a list would be so comprehensive as to indicate that Clancy already has way above the 50 per cent-plus one figure required for victory on the first ballot and he doesn’t want to tempt fate by revealing this.

We shall find out one way or the other on November 23 when the comrades gather to elect the next leader of the Labour group, and the city council.

Our latest odds together with the result of our poll as it stands:

John Clancy       1/6 (60%)

Ian Ward           8/1 (20%)

Mike Leddy         16/1 (13%)

Barry Henley         100/1 (8%)

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