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There’s a doctor in the house

There’s a doctor in the house

🕔10.Jul 2012

Mike Whitby, the former Tory leader of Birmingham City Council, has finally received an honour to recognise the eight years he spent toiling away at the head of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

But sadly for Whitby it wasn’t the knighthood he is said to have craved since 2004, which would have given him equal billing with Brum’s other city council Knights, Neville Bosworth, Bernard Zissman, Richard Knowles and Albert Bore.

No place in the House of Lords, either. Not an OBE, CBE or MBE for Mike, or indeed any kind of gong that involves prime ministerial backing and Royal approval.

He will have instead to make do with an Honorary Doctorate in science from the University of Aston, which was bestowed upon him in a glittering ceremony attended by the great and good.

A university press release, which bears an astonishing resemblance to the type of propaganda missive regularly issued by Whitby’s office when he was council leader, paid tribute to an apparently stellar career:

“Mike has been a Conservative Councillor since 1997; he became the Leader of Birmingham City Council in 2004 leading the city in a Progressive Partnership with the Liberal Democrats until 2012. Mike is, in fact, the second-longest serving Leader in Birmingham City Council’s history.

“During his time as Leader he made a commitment to taking Birmingham on a ‘journey towards excellence’, and was responsible for turning around a number of failing service areas, delivering record high levels of resident satisfaction, and delivering the lowest council tax increases of any Metropolitan authority in England.

“Mike is synonymous with transformational infrastructure developments across Birmingham, including the £600m New Street Station development, and the £188m new Library of Birmingham (which upon completion next year will be the largest public library in Europe).”

Coun Whitby wasn’t the only politician to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Aston this week. Former Labour Party leader Lord Kinnock and former Tory Education Secretary Lord Kenneth Baker were also honoured, along with Birmingham’s very own Chinese food multi-millionaire, Wing Yip.

It remains to be seen whether Coun Whitby will follow the example of former council chief legal officer, Mirza Ahmad, who upon picking up an Honorary Doctorate styled himself Dr Ahmad. He’d be stepping in famous footsteps if he did, since Lichfield’s very own Samuel Johnson routinely called himself Doctor despite not having a degree.

Presumably, someone will explain to Whitby that his new title doesn’t allow him to carry out medical examinations or operations, however minor.

No sign, yet, of Birmingham Council’s new Labour leader Sir Albert Bore receiving a similar honour, but then  he is already a ‘doctor’ since he has a PhD in physics.


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