Mirza Ahmad: ‘I can run Birmingham and be a barrister at the same time’

Mirza Ahmad

Mirza Ahmad has become the first of Birmingham’s mayoral candidates to suggest that he would be able to combine running the city with a second full time job.

Dr Ahmad, a lawyer, is promising to accept only a “fraction” of any recommended pay package for the mayor, but intends to continue to practice as a barrister from St Philip’s chambers.

The former Director of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer at the city council also took a sideswipe at his former colleagues, describing them as working in “highly overpaid, inefficient and ineffective structures”.

He made it clear that he would abolish the post of Read the rest of this entry »

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Byrne talks strategy while Simon gets back to basics with buses as Labour’s mayoral tussle hots up

Bus on Colmore Row, Birmingham, England.

Labour’s internal battle to select a candidate to run for mayor of Birmingham is rapidly developing into a clash of contrasting styles, between Sion Simon’s man of the people approach and Liam Byrne’s grasp of grand strategy.

The differences were noticeable at a Vote Yes to Birmingham Mayor rally at the Town Hall, where Mr Byrne was at pains to hammer home his experience as a former West Midlands Minister and the role he played in knocking heads together to secure approval for the redevelopment of New Street Station.

The subtext here is obvious enough: “I already have the experience a mayor will require. Please select me as your candidate.”

The Hodge Hill MP went on to outline Read the rest of this entry »


Politics ‘too important to be left to politicians’, warns Warwick Commission mayoral study

City Council, Birmingham

Birmingham Council House

The most comprehensive study yet conducted into the role that elected mayors could play in major cities poses a huge number of questions, but the general drift of a University of Warwick report is that answers are only really likely to emerge as the new system develops.

Ten cities including Birmingham will vote in referendums on May 3 to

Read the rest of this entry »


Labour shortlists two for West Midlands Police Commissioner role, as Mike Olley misses out

Mike Olley

West Midlands Labour Party members will be given just two names from which to choose a candidate to run for the region’s first elected Police and Crime Commissioner, raising fears that a similarly constrained shortlist might be used to select a Birmingham mayoral candidate.

The party’s regional board conducted interviews over the weekend and decided to shortlist local councillor Bob Jones, from Wolverhampton, and Yvonne Mosquito, from Birmingham. Both are long-serving members of the West Midlands Police Authority, and Coun Jones chairs the finance committee.

The decision appears to put paid to the chances of a political comeback by former Birmingham city councillor Mike Olley, who has been Read the rest of this entry »


Labour’s back-room mayoral fixers a ‘cynical kick in the teeth’ for democracy in Birmingham

Sion Simon

It is certainly unpalatable. Unthinkable even. But could each of the two main political parties in Britain really enter the contest to select a candidate for mayor of Birmingham with a shortlist of one?

Although it would be a cynical kick in the teeth for democracy and localism there is a growing possibility that, for very different reasons, both Labour and the Conservatives might end up presenting their members with no choice at all over who they put forward for the powerful mayoral role.

On the Conservative side, there is only city council leader Mike Whitby. Said to rule the Birmingham Tory party with a rod of iron, Coun Read the rest of this entry »


Will a Mayor have the chutzpah as well the clout to make a difference?

“Whoever you vote for,” an old geezer told me recently, “It’s a bloody politician who gets in.”

I’ve been asked a few times recently if/how I’ll vote on the mayor-issue. My heart sinks. This mini-referendum is boring, important, difficult. Can I be bothered?

What are we voting for? What powers would a Mayor have? Would it make a difference?

Even asking the questions numbs my mind, let alone listening to answers that come my way.

To me, this is the issue: Read the rest of this entry »


Byrne-Bore joint Birmingham mayor bid is dream ticket for some, nightmare scenario for others

Say what you will about Liam Byrne, but there’s no doubt that the former Chief Secretary’s decision to seek the Labour nomination to run for mayor of Birmingham has injected fresh life into what was turning out to be a rather dull contest – despite the odd hissy fit.

The entire dynamics of the selection process have been changed by Mr Byrne’s dramatic late entry. No longer are Labour members faced with a choice between the new in the shape of former Erdington MP Sion Simon, the old in the form of veteran council Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore, and something in-between Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart.

The choice as it stands at the moment boils down to Mr Simon, Mrs Stuart, and Mr Byrne with Sir Albert Bore as his deputy mayor running mate. Mr Simon’s supporters were quick to claim that Mr Byrne’s intervention was not a “game changer”, but they surely spoke out too openly and too soon.

Labour’s regional office will finalise the shortlist if a referendum on May 3 delivers a vote in favour of a mayor, and that decision will have to be endorsed by the National Executive Committee. There is a rumour flying around that the shortlist will Read the rest of this entry »