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Tantalising Tory leadership contest: Alden and Alden, Bird, Rudge and Lines

Tantalising Tory leadership contest: Alden and Alden, Bird, Rudge and Lines

🕔06.Feb 2013

toriesThe Conservatives on Birmingham City Council are mostly a pretty sorry sight at the moment.

Having been reduced to 28 members they are likely to be down to even fewer than that after the 2014 civic elections, barring some Lazarus-like recovery in the coalition Government’s fortunes.

The fact is that the Tories haven’t been able to command an overall majority in the council chamber for almost a quarter of a century, and it’s difficult to envisage any great recovery in the near future.

Birmingham’s changing demographics, the unstoppable shift to a majority ethnic city, may actually mean that the Conservative Party will never again be able to reach the 62-seat mark required for outright control unless the party can reach out to the new Brummies.

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There are, though, amid the sea of despondency on the Tory benches, two people for whom the glass is always half full, their enthusiasm and optimism remains unbridled, and they are going to take the fight to Labour come what may. Yes, it’s the Aldens.

Deirdre and Robert, aka ‘Bobby’, mother and son, sit next to each other and whisper a lot, which is rather sweet. And at this week’s full council meeting they were, as usual, in overdrive.

To say that they dominated proceedings from the Opposition’s point of view would be understating the case. Up and down constantly at Question Time, salvo after salvo fired in the direction of Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore and his cabinet, the Aldens appeared to represent the last vestiges of life among the Conservative ranks.

Meanwhile, sat high in the back row casting a tired eye over proceedings, Conservative group leader Mike Whitby resembles more and more Ted Heath post-1975, or possibly Old Man River – He mus’know sumpin’ But don’t say nuthin’, He jes’keeps rollin’ He keeps on rollin’ along.

Just how much longer Mike Whitby can roll on for is a matter of very private debate in the Tory ranks, especially among younger councillors who feel that their time may have arrived. While no one is talking openly about a leadership contest, it’s acknowledged that Cllr Whitby has a tough fight on his hands in defending his Harborne seat against a resurgent Labour party in 2014.

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