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Sir Albert holds on to council leadership in far from convincing victory

Sir Albert holds on to council leadership in far from convincing victory

🕔11.May 2013

counhouseSir Albert Bore has seen off a challenge to his leadership of Birmingham City Council, but significantly failed to retain the support of almost a third of the controlling Labour group.

Challenger John Clancy picked up 23 votes at today’s annual group meeting against 51 for Sir Albert. There are 77 Labour councillors in total.

Clancy immediately responded by declaring that Sir Albert and his cabinet colleagues had been put on notice “that a change in direction is needed” and demanded policy changes and greater consultation and involvement between the leadership and backbenchers.

Cllr Clancy fought an unashamedly “traditional Labour” campaign, promising to put some “red meat” into the council if he won and criticising Sir Albert for preparing to decommission public services in response to massive Government spending cuts.

He said he wanted to turn Birmingham into a city that was recognisably Labour-led.

On the eve of the group meeting, Cllr Clancy and his team hand delivered a final manifesto to all Labour councillors promising to empower backbenchers.

The document read: “Whilst I will offer strong leadership from the top, I believe that power and leadership are best exercised by involving as many as possible in the use of that power and leadership.

“This Labour group is full of talented and committed councillors with democratic mandates of their own to run the city and these are precisely the strengths I would muster from us all. Under my leadership, we will run this city together as One Nation Labour, One Nation Birmingham.

“Through co-operative principles we will involve our citizens in the exercise of power, too. Co-operative Labour principles involve power-sharing by definition. Under my leadership power will be in the hands of the many, not the few.”

After the result was declared and Sir Albert’s victory confirmed, Cllr Clancy said: “I’m clearly delighted that almost a third of Labour councillors voted for me and for change.

“I urge the leadership to listen and take on board my policy proposals.”

Sir Albert will be under some pressure now to at least consider seriously Cllr Clancy’s main policy proposals which included issuing bonds to fund free school meals for all primary school children and to build thousands of council houses. He also wants to renegotiate the council’s ICT contract with Service Birmingham to save about £70 million.

Cllr Clancy also urged a significant planned sale of council assets including the NEC and Birmingham airport shareholdings, a pledge that is understood to have won wide-ranging support among Labour councillors.

He promised to enlarge the cabinet from eight members to 10, plus an additional five cabinet executive members, while also investigating the possibility of returning to the committee system.

Privately, Sir Albert is likely to be concerned about Cllr Clancy’s unexpectedly strong level of support, although he may feel that the unprecedented scale of spending cuts forced on the council by the Government helped swell a protest vote..

All of the indications are that Cllr Clancy and his supporters will build on this year’s campaign to launch another leadership bid in May 2014.

Sir Albert has been the leader of Birmingham council Labour group since 1999.

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