Labour senses historic city council election victory, while Tories and Lib Dems sulk in silence

Birmingham City Council House is in Victoria S...

Birmingham Council House

The Labour Party is continuing to ramp up its campaigning efforts in the run up to the Birmingham council elections on May 3, in stark contrast to the city’s ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which has made no effort to seek publicity in recent weeks.

A flurry of policy announcements by Labour during April included a promise to give a wage rise to 2,743 low-paid council workers and a commitment to appoint a “Victims Champion” to make sure that the voices of those affected by crime are heard in all local authority departments.

Further details setting out how Labour would go about making sure that the council uses its £1 billion-a-year procurement powers to buy goods and services from local firms is expected before polling day.

Labour’s 16-page manifesto – A Vision for Birmingham – has been regarded as Read the rest of this entry »

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Birmingham’s appointment with history: the perils and pitfalls of an elected mayor

* Birmingham Skyline from the west Selfridges ...

The political scene in Birmingham could be transformed over the next six months as the city moves slowly but surely towards being governed by an elected mayor.

On the other hand, it could be a case of more of the same if voters reject the idea of having a mayor in a referendum.

Paul Dale examines the timetable, and the perils and pitfalls ahead.

May 3: One-third of Birmingham City Council seats will be contested at the local elections.

Voters will also be asked whether they wish to move from a council leader and cabinet system, which is the current arrangement, to a mayor who would be chosen once every four years directly by everyone in Birmingham who is registered to vote and bothers to do so.

May 4: At about 4am on Friday May 4, Read the rest of this entry »


Government unpopularity may mean ‘tsunami-like’ council election defeat for Tories and Lib Dems

Birmingham Skyline from the west

View from Edgbaston

The latest opinion polls make grim reading for Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and it seems certain that barring an incredible reversal in political sentiment before May 3 the control of Birmingham City Council will swing back to Labour for the first time since 2004.

Since Labour needs to pick up only four seats to win a majority in the 120-seat council chamber, the result itself would appear to be pretty much a foregone conclusion.

But if the polls are right, a huge shift of national opinion against the Tory-Liberal Democrat Government will gift Labour a massive majority on the city council.

Councillors sometimes like to comfort themselves by suggesting Read the rest of this entry »


Salma Yaqoob says Respect may run candidate for mayor of Birmingham

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Salma Yaqoob

The Respect Party is considering its options following George Galloway’s stunning Bradford West by-election victory and may run a candidate for mayor of Birmingham.

Salma Yaqoob told the Chamberlain Files that the party would examine the manifestos of all mayoral hopefuls, and if none of them matched up to Respect’s principles a candidate might be put forward in Birmingham.

Ms Yaqoob, leader of the Respect Party Read the rest of this entry »


Labour promises to get tough on crime, again, as local elections manifesto launched in Birmingham

Ed Miliband, British politician

It is almost 20 years since Tony Blair first promised to be tough on crime and the causes of crime.

But today’s Labour Party leader clearly believes that there are still plenty of votes to be had by pledging to stand up for pensioners, families, ordinary folk who apparently live in fear of having their windows kicked in or graffiti sprayed on their homes by the “neighbours from hell”.

Mr Miliband launched Labour’s May 3 local elections campaign in Birmingham, and devoted a large proportion of his speech to law and order issues. He was backed up by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Bann Read the rest of this entry »


Brum mayor: Labour names the date

Gisela Stuart’s hopes of becoming Birmingham’s first elected mayor have been dealt a potentially fatal blow by Labour party officials.

The National Executive Committee has decided that any Labour MP selected to run for mayor must resign from the Commons and trigger a by-election, raising the possibility of an unwanted contest in Mrs Stuart’s Edgbaston seat.

The ruling could also be significant for Liam Byrne, the MP for Hodge Hill, who is also said Read the rest of this entry »


End of the phony mayoral war? Gloves come off as Gisela questions Sion’s tactics

English: Gisela Stuart at the House of Commons...

The battle to become Birmingham’s first elected mayor has until now been fought in an unusually comradely fashion among the three declared Labour hopefuls, Sion Simon, Gisela Stuart and Sir Albert Bore.

However, the Chamberlain Files learns of growing tensions between the camps of Mrs Stuart and Mr Simon, so much so that the city’s left-wing chattering classes are openly speculating that an official complaint to the regional Labour Party is only a matter of time.

The row centres on Mr Simon’s extraordinary ability to contact party Read the rest of this entry »