It is probably a coincidence that Mike Whitby announced his intention to remain leader of the dwindling band of Birmingham Tory councillors just a few hours after the Pope said he would be abdicating.
Such are the affairs of great men, though, that the timing of these proclamations invariably raises more questions than answers.
Whitby, rattled by criticism of his extremely low profile since losing the council leadership last May, says he is renewed and eager to carry the fight to Labour. A perfect opportunity to do so will be at the annual budget meeting later this month where, for the first time in eight years the Conservative group will put forward its own spending proposals.
Any prospect of a joint Tory-Lib Dem budget in the spirit of the two parties’ coalition was dismissed somewhat abruptly by Liberal Democrat leader Paul Tilsley: “It will be my intention to present a