Cath Grundy in Sir Albert's shadow
To borrow John Prescott's memorable phrase, the tectonic plates are shifting under Birmingham City Council's Labour group.
Poor election results and the certainty of at least another five or six years in opposition are focusing minds, not for the first time, on the future of Sir Albert Bore. Whether the murmurings of discontent turn out to be a full-blown earthquake or nothing more than a tiny tremor remains to be seen.
Bore has been here many times before during his 10-years as group leader, and will I am certain be viewing the latest plotting against him with nothing more than minor irritation.
The first five years in the job, when he was also council leader, saw annual attempts by colleagues on the left and right to unseat him. Bore managed to hang on, sometimes by the narrowest of margins, thanks in part to support by Labour's regional office and thanks also to the inexperience and unsuitability of most of the challengers.
The latest potential threat, and one has to stress potential, is from Kingstanding councillor Cath Grundy whose somewhat chaotic bid to take the group deputy leadership from Ian Ward ended in failure a couple of weeks ago. Ward, benefiting from the strong backing of Sir Albert, picked up 24 votes to 10 for Grundy, in a result that was described by Boreites as decisive.
But was it really as decisive as all that?
Grundy's campaign, which began with an agonising will-she-won't-she defend her seat in Kingstanding, took a turn for the worse when she admitted having spent a year agonising over whether to stand against Sir Albert before deciding to go for the weaker target. In the circumstances, picking up support from just under a third of Labour councillors was a reasonable result. It certainly gives her a platform to go forward.
Her concerns about the leadership of the Labour group have a familiar feel to them. Bore and Ward are dismissed as control-freaks failing to run an inclusive ship, freezing out too many councillors and relying solely on a handful of trusted colleagues. The group is drifting, directionless and is not an effective opposition, she claims.
Bore, as is usual in such circumstances, simply says that he does not recognise Grundy's description of Labour's failings or of his own shortcomings. Ward shrugs his shoulders and makes the point that it is difficult to achieve anything very much in opposition.
It is true that Labour is finding opposition politics distasteful after running the council for 20 years, but the dispiriting and sullen performance in the council chamber by Bore, Ward and senior colleagues hardly inspires backbenchers for the long road ahead. Opposition is largely about cheering your own troops up, but there is very little cheer on the Labour side of the chamber.
Significantly, Grundy is back in the shadow cabinet, elected by fellow councillors at the group annual meeting. She replaces fellow Kingstanding councillor Peter Kane as equalities and human resources portfolio holder, where she will immediately be pitched into the firing line.
Grundy will have to give some gravitas to Labour's response to on-going industrial action at the council over the single status pay and grading dispute. Kane never recovered after attempting to defend the ÃÂ£10,000-plus bonuses paid to manual workers, regardless of performance, while Bore's blunt statement of support for the unions whatever action they chose to take hardly gave Labour any room for manoeuvre.
She will have plenty of opportunity to shine in the council chamber, perhaps demonstrating to colleagues an alternative leadership style.
And if Sir Albert hasn't got enough on his plate from Grundy, he is now being accused of yet more political trickery.
Yvonne Mosquito, vice-chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority, will no longer be a member of the authority after the annual city council meeting on May 20, having been voted off by her Labour council colleagues. She is to be replaced by Aston Labour councillor Muhammed Afzal.
Mosquito is the only Black African-Caribbean woman member of the police authority and is also one of the front runners to replace Clare Short as Labour's parliamentary candidate in Ladywood at the next General Election.
There is absolutely no evidence to support Labour gossip that Sir Albert wanted to weaken Mosquito's position in order to deny her Ladywood. Why would he?
Yet, the rumour mill is running at full tilt and not for the first time Sir Albert finds himself accused of shady behind-the-scenes manipulation.
Will the man they call the great survivor still be leading Labour in Birmingham after the 2009 annual group meeting?
I wouldn't bet against it.