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Secret Election Diary: Ian ‘no manifesto’ Ward enters the race

Secret Election Diary: Ian ‘no manifesto’ Ward enters the race

🕔20.Oct 2015

Ian Ward has entered the race to become the next leader of Birmingham city council.

Unusually, though, the current deputy leader has decided not to issue a personal manifesto.

Instead of pinning his colours firmly to the mast, he wants council policies to be drawn up by Labour councillors and the Birmingham Labour party, in a return to the way things used to be done in the 1980s. He’s promising an ‘administration of all the talents’.

The Corbyn-like ‘ask the comrades’ tactics stunned many of Ward’s colleagues who are now wondering whether he has made a major tactical error in his attempt to replace Sir Albert Bore.

The only other declared candidate in the race, John Clancy, is expected to issue his manifesto tomorrow with detailed policy pledges to be drip-fed over the next week or so, plus the names of confirmed Clancy supporters who have said they will definitely vote for him.

The contrast between the approaches of Ward and Clancy could hardly be greater.

One, Clancy, has been challenging to become leader for at least five years and has a highly-tuned campaign team up and running. Ward, until last week, bravely bore the role of Sir Albert’s faithful deputy, until he finally turned and joined with most of the cabinet in kicking the leader out. He has, therefore, attracted the wrath of the Boreites and the contempt of the Clancyites, which is not a great position to be in.

Ward confirmed his intention to stand following a special Labour group meeting last night which confirmed arrangements for the election. He will campaign under the far from snappy slogan: “Together I believe we can succeed.” (Memo to Ian: get rid of the ‘I believe’ bit.)

Nominations for the election of the leader of the Labour group and the council will not open until November 4, and close five days later on the ninth. The election, where 78 Labour councillors get the chance to vote, will be on November 23. The new council leader will be sworn in on December 1.

Ward’s tactics have naturally sent our panel of Labour experts into a frenzy of activity.

It’s fair to say the market is shifting rapidly to ‘buy Clancy’ and ‘sell Ward’. And since there are no other candidates as yet, our odds have been whittled down to the two who have declared.

John Clancy is now 1/3 on and Ward 5/1 against. Nothing has been heard from other supposed contenders and it is possible, although unlikely, that Clancy and Ward may turn out to be the only runners, although Brummie the Council House cat has given the pundits paws for thought.

Ian Ward’s declaration statement is here in full:

Following this evening’s meeting I wanted to let you know first of my intention to stand for election as Leader of the Group and Council. I attach a copy of the statement I will shortly release to the press, but I also want to talk directly to you, my colleagues, on the Group.

I am not issuing a manifesto because, although I have firm views, it is for the Group and wider Birmingham Labour Party to develop our manifesto, not one individual.

The relationship between the Cabinet and the Group must change significantly so that there is a more collegiate approach. We need to utilise all of the talents that exist within the Group to address the challenges I have highlighted in my press statement.

We need to meaningfully engage all Elected Members to make the changes that are needed on the scale required.

Scrutiny should be engaged more proactively by the Cabinet to help formulate policy and test out ideas and options. This would ensure a whole Council approach to the strategic challenges we face.

Group Officers need to be empowered to carry out their roles and be held accountable by the Group. All Group Officers must be more visible in managing Group business. I will absolutely commit to making this happen.

We need a properly functioning Group Executive and Group meetings that are meaningful to you the Members of the Group.

I want to talk to you over the coming weeks about how we can make these changes and address the priorities in my press statement because only the Labour Party has the diversity and inclusiveness to take the City forward. As we deal with these critical issues we must also focus on ensuring we win the election next May. To be successful we must take a united and collective approach.

Together I believe we can succeed.

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