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Secret Election Dairy: Clancy’s odds cut…and Mr Kafka makes an appearance

Secret Election Dairy: Clancy’s odds cut…and Mr Kafka makes an appearance

🕔16.Oct 2015

The contest to elect the next leader of Birmingham city council’s Labour group hasn’t even officially begun and already there is a constitutional crisis looming.

A conundrum of Kafkaesque proportions that would test the cleverest professors of logic at the greatest universities in the land has arisen. And it is this: how can there be a contest when there isn’t a vacancy?

It is the case that Sir Albert Bore has signalled his intention to stand down as council leader in December having spent months, possibly years, pondering how to put in place a succession strategy (no sniggering at the back, please). But Sir Albert has not resigned as leader of the Labour group of councillors so, according to the party’s rule book, there are no grounds for a leadership election to occur because such elections can only be held at the AGM, which is next May.

Irony of ironies, the existing rule limiting leadership elections to once a year at the AGM was only put in place some years ago to prevent constant challenges to Sir Albert.

The timetable, such as one even exists, is that the 78 Labour councillors will meet to elect a new leader sometime towards the end of November. The winner of the contest will become council leader in waiting, but Sir Albert will remain the actual leader until December 1 when he has promised to resign.

Another difficulty has arisen. Will Ian Ward attempt to have his cake and eat it?

Ward is the deputy leader of the Labour group and the council, but is expected to be a contender for the leadership. Shouldn’t he resign as deputy leader first? Should Sir Albert resign as group leader straight away?

No doubt these knotty issues will be ironed out successfully at a special Labour group meeting on Monday October 19, which promises to be a tearful affair it being the first occasion that councillors will have had to pay their respects to Sir Albert following his resignation announcement.

Meanwhile, Chamberlain Files’ elections expert, the very senior and very anonymous Labour figure with years of experience of plotting and infighting, has revised the odds for the Great Council Leadership Race and the predictions have been verified by our independent panel.

The headline news is that the gap between front runner Ian Ward and second favourite John Clancy has narrowed slightly in Clancy’s favour.

Here’s the latest running order:

Ian Ward 3/1

John Clancy 5/1

Penny Holbrook 8/1

Mike Leddy  8/1

Lisa Trickett 10/1

Majid Mahmood 20/1

Sharp observers will notice that former Lord Mayor Mike Leddy appears as a possible candidate for the first time. This reflects widespread gossip in the Labour camp that Cllr Ward’s stock is plummeting downwards and the Boreites are desperately seeking a candidate to throw their weight behind. Personally, I’d put Leddy at 50/1, but no doubt our ‘expert’ knows best.

Ward’s problem, I am told by a somewhat breathless ‘insider’, is that he is regarded as nothing short of a traitor by the Boreites for selling Sir Albert down the river by refusing to back the leader at the beginning of the week. Had he come out publicly and unequivocally in support, Sir Albert might just have survived, they claim somewhat unconvincingly.

The source states:

Ward is failing to gain any traction. In fact he seems to be losing support. I wouldn’t be surprised if he only got about four votes.

The ever ambitious Lisa Trickett appears to be dead in the water after floating a congestion charge plan as her big idea. Even Sir Albert in his prime backed off such a controversial, and obviously vote-losing, wheeze.

Assuming that the election timetable is approved at Monday’s Labour group meeting, it is likely candidates will declare on Tuesday and there are rumours circulating that Clancy is going to launch with a ‘big bang’. Should be interesting.

Finally, as our expert is fond of saying: “Believe no one.”

Rumour of the day: It’s being suggested the Government has taken a decision to send in commissioners to run Birmingham city council and that appropriate Labour-supporting figures are being sounded out to see if they would like to be a commissioner.

I don’t make this stuff up, just passing it on.

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