Whitby leadership challenge gets nasty: Rudge sticks the knife into an old friend
Randal Brew, the Tory backbencher who is plotting to oust Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby, has been given an early taste of the venom that is certain to fly in his direction if he dares to go through with his challenge.
Alan Rudge, cabinet member for equalities and human resources and a close political ally of Whitby's, lost no time in sticking the knife in to Brew.
Describing him as an old friend of many years standing, Rudge proceeded to plunge the blade up to the hilt by adding that Randal Brew simply doesn't have the experience, the right qualities or the toughness required to lead Birmingham City Council.
Rudge told the Birmingham Post: "I can't see that Randal has the qualities necessary to replace Mike.
"He's a nice enough guy, I've known him for years, but being a nice person doesn't make you a good leader and doesn't mean he is capable of doing it."
The, just to rub it in, Rudge suggested that Brew might be a bit, well, wet.
He added: "I sometimes think he is a bit weak. You have to have a clear line on what you are thinking on policies. He sounds like he is equivocating.
"You need some clear and basic principles, you have to believe in what you are saying and know you won't please everyone."
Rudge rallied to Whitby's support, denying claims that the council leader was remote and had cut himself off from Tory backbenchers.
He said Whitby's record had to be judged against the "fantastic progress" made by the council since 2004.
Housing and social services had been turned around from "basket cases" and were now judged good by the government.
This had been achieved with an iron grip on finances and below inflation council tax increases.
Coun Rudge said it was not at all unusual when a political group had been together for some time for someone to be unhappy about the leadership.
He did not believe Coun Brew's opinions were shared by most Tory councillors.