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Secret Election Diary: Mike Leddy the latest ‘safe pair of hands’ to enter the race

Secret Election Diary: Mike Leddy the latest ‘safe pair of hands’ to enter the race

🕔27.Oct 2015

Another “safe pair of hands” has entered the race to become the next leader of Birmingham city council. Veteran Labour councillor Mike Leddy is the latest contender to make a familiar pitch to colleagues – a unity candidate who won’t rock the boat.

Leddy joins deputy council leader Ian Ward in the self-proclaimed safe hands category.

In fact, there are now so many safe hands in the race that the council cricket team can surely look forward to a most satisfactory season next year.

The two other candidates, John Clancy and Barry Henley, would probably wince at being called a safe pair of hands. You’d imagine Clancy in the slips plucking catches out of thin air, while Henley would be prowling the boundary ropes glaring at the fast bowlers knowing he could do better if only called upon to demonstrate his great skills.

Anyway, that’s more than enough cricketing metaphors. Best foot forward.

As many readers have noted, the Birmingham Labour leadership race has a familiar ring to it. Four middle aged white men are in the contest and no sight of a woman candidate or a councillor from a BME background. It is true that nominations do not even open until November 4, but it is difficult to imagine anyone else sticking their head above the parapet now.

As per usual, there’s a lot of huffing and puffing about equality from Labour. But when it comes down to it, let’s just do the usual safe pair of hands man thing.

Leddy, who has been around the council scene since 1995, is in common with Cllr Ian Ward closely associated with Sir Albert Bore, who has been forced out of office by the cabinet and will resign as leader on December 1.

Understandably, Leddy is going out of his way to deny being the Boreite candidate.

He says in an email to colleagues:

Some will say and have already said I’ve been too loyal and closely associated with Sir Albert; to some extent this is true, but only as far as my former role of being group chief whip.

As chief whip you are accountable to the whole group and the elected leader of the group. Whilst I held the position on two occasions, at no time, throughout the last fifteen years did I involve myself in any clique or group campaigning for or against any particular leader/deputy leader candidate, which was right and proper for that role.  All I did was to perform the role as required by the whole group.

If that is loyalty, then I plead guilty.

Leddy goes on to say he is satisfied following talks with colleagues that he stands a very good chance of being elected leader because he is the sort of chap who can “carry through the existing progamme of works required by The Birmingham Improvement Panel, someone who would be a safe pair of hands, above all, someone who would unify the group should there be a fraught leadership election”.

He says he’s had run-ins with Sir Albert (who hasn’t?) and he’s “never been anyone’s stooge”.

And on the matter of experience for leadership, Leddy reminds colleagues he spent much of his professional career in management and “doesn’t mind being questioned or challenged”.

I’m also someone who can and has admitted to being wrong, when I’ve made a mistake, people who don’t make mistakes are people who don’t do anything or achieve anything. (However, repeatedly making similar mistakes is unforgivable.) But first and foremost I’m a man manager, a people person, with ideas.

He wants cost-neutral policies, not “airy fairy ideas” and says the plans he has been putting together can be interpreted by some as radical and by others as conservative, which is convenient.

Chamberlain Files’ Oddsmeister, the very experienced Birmingham Labour figure who has seen more leadership battles than most and definitely could not be described as a safe pair hands, says Leddy’s intervention can only assist John Clancy because it will split the anti-Clancy vote.

Ward and Leddy will be left chasing what’s left of the Boreite rump, while Henley remains a rank outsider, it is suggested.

Our latest odds:

John Clancy    1/6

Ian Ward     8/1

Mike Leddy 15/1

Barry Henley 100/1

*Some of you have been asking about Brummie the Council House Cat. She has, alas, pulled out of the race after hearing the council has gone to the dogs. (This joke must be attributed to the great Neil Elkes. I know he won’t mind me passing it on).

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