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Secret Election Diary: Boreites struggle to find a runner…advantage Clancy

Secret Election Diary: Boreites struggle to find a runner…advantage Clancy

🕔19.Oct 2015

The race to become the next leader of Birmingham city council kicks off formally tonight when Labour councillors meet to set a timetable to elect a replacement for Sir Albert Bore.

And so far, despite all of the jockeying behind the scenes, the rumours, the deliberate counter-rumours, and the tears, only one thing can be said with any certainty – John Clancy, the perennial challenger, is the sole certain contender to emerge so far.

The word is that Clancy will launch his campaign tomorrow with a ‘big bang’ and an impressive list of backers, not just fellow councillors but MPs, an MEP and perhaps even representatives from the business community.

One source close to the Clancy camp reckons it’s going to be a shoo-in for the man who has tried four times in the past to beat Bore to become council leader. But as someone almost said, you would say that wouldn’t you?

Meanwhile, former Lord Mayor Mike Leddy, who for all we know may be the last Boreite standing, is said to have been hitting the phones in a bid to gee up support for a leadership challenge. The response has not been overwhelming, I’m told.

Majid Mahmood, local cheer leader for Jeremy Corbyn, has his supporters if Twitter is anything to go by. Unfortunately, hardly any of them are city councillors and therefore don’t get a vote.

As for Waseem Zaffar, he won’t risk a challenge when his long friendship with Clancy virtually guarantees a top job if Clancy becomes the new leader.

Penny Holbrook, who reportedly shed tears at the infamous cabinet meeting that gave Bore his marching orders, is thought to be considering standing. There were reports over the weekend that Holbrook had been annointed by Sir Albert as his successor, but insiders are suggesting she will not stand in this election and will save herself for a future battle.

Lisa Trickett, upon whose behalf ‘soundings’ were being taken even before Sir Albert fell on his sword, may stand if she can find someone to sign her nomination papers, but would seem to have no realistic chance of winning.

Barry Henley, who a year ago was Clancy’s running mate and challenged Ian Ward for the deputy leadership, is rumoured to be considering challenging for the leadership. Henley managed 16 votes to 57 for Ward in 2014. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, as they say.

It’s all been a bit too much for Chamberlain Files’ resident expert, the ‘very senior’ Labour figure who has been setting odds on the election outcome. The ‘expert’, overcome by the stress of actually working for a while, has decided to rest-up with a skinny latte and a copy of the Guardian.

Fear not, though. We have recruited a new ‘expert’ from within the Labour party with an equally long record of trouble-making and disobedience, who is providing daily intelligence and setting fresh odds.

The new ‘expert’ is in agreement with other sources that the campaign, if you can call it that, of deputy council leader Ian Ward is in trouble.

Ward’s dithering could well see him on the back benches with no responsibilities.  This would bring a sparkle to the eye of many of his current cabinet colleagues who are clearly gunning for him.

It’s even been suggested that Ward may team up with James McKay, whose cabinet resignation and accompanying letter of explanation, effectively did for Sir Albert. Ultimately, the issue for Ward is whether he can distance himself from a long track record as Bore’s faithful deputy?

Whichever way you look at it, John Clancy is emerging as a front runner at this early stage of the race, and our odds reflect that:

John Clancy            evens

Ian Ward                  5/1

Penny Holbrook    10/1

James McKay         20/1

Majid Mahmood    30/1

Mike Leddy              45/1

Lisa Trickett            75/1

Brummie                150/1 (the Council House cat)

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