The limited life expectancy of the politican
When I returned to Birmingham three years ago, I couldn't believe what I saw.
No, it wasn't the shiny new city centre that amazed me, but the occupants of the seats of power. When I'd last paid my council tax to the city, it was well into the long, seemingly unstoppable reign of the Labour party, with the venerable Dick Knowles entering his eighth year in power.
That Labour controlled the city was a simple fact - it was just the way it was.
So imagine my shock to find in charge a curious alliance of Tories and Liberal Democrats, apparently united in a hatred of Labour, and a common frustration borne of years in the opposition wilderness.
After taking the smelling salts, I realised that of course this was simply politics at work - that nothing is forever in this business. Democracy is an evolutionary process, with extinction and rebirth as much a part of the political ecosystem as stale biscuits in a committee meeting.
And therein lies the lesson for Mike Whitby, who seems all but certain to face a challenge to his leadership of Birmingham City Council's Conservative group from ex-Lord Mayor Randal Brew.
This has come as a massive shock to the pugnacious Mike, who stands accused by back benchers of failing to listen to their views, and failing to offer cabinet positions to any of the post-2004 intake of Tories. Mike may have faile to realise that if he didn't periodically renew the make-up of his administration, then someone else may well turn up and renew it for him.
In the past three or four years, though, Mike has certainly stamped his personality on the city, and nowhere is this more true than in the business community, where such events as the famous 'Leader's Breakfasts' draw capacity audiences away from their Colmore Row offices. Business support has been vital to the 'Whitby Project', and after a shaky start, the leader now enjoys some very close working relationships with business leaders, perhaps none more so than those in the development sector.
We may find out in the next couple of weeks whether Mike will pay the ultimate political price for forgetting where his real power base lies.