Stalin would have been proud of Government's mayoral poll plan
There's a feeling of disbelief at the city council at the Government's determination to foist a directly elected mayor on Birmingham.
Rumours have been around for several months that Tory Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles had a cunning plan to make sure a referendum to discover whether people wanted a mayor would produce the right result - that is a 'yes' result to please prime minister David Cameron, who is a huge fan of elected mayors.
Displaying an audaciousness and low cunning of which even the worst Stalinist states would have been proud Mr Pickles and Mr Cameron are certainly going to go ahead with the promised referendum, but only after the mayor is already in place.
We wait to discover exactly when the confirmatory referendum will be held but my money is on the Government delaying the vote for as long as possible, several years perhaps, on the basis that once the mayoral system is up and running many people will quite like it while others will just shrug their shoulders and won't be bothered to demand change.
All of the political parties on the council appear to be deep in denial about the coming of the mayor.
The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups, almost to a person, don't want an elected mayor.
Officially, the reason is that they fear placing too much power in the hands of one individual.
Secretly, their real fear is that the winning mayoral candidate won't be a politician at all but a local business leader, or celebrity figure.
In reality of course most of them realise that they are never going to be mayor, nor do they have much chance of being appointed by the mayor to serve in the cabinet. Far better to stick with the current leader-cabinet system, where the patronage of the leader hands out handsomely paid scrutiny committee and regulatory committee chairmanships.
As soon as Mr Pickles formally announces the arrangements for mayoral elections in Birmingham, probably later this month, the political parties will have to break cover. Only one candidate has put forward his name so far, former Erdington Labour MP Sion Simon.
Whether Mr Simon can attract enough support from party members to win a selection process is perhaps doubtful given his low profile when at Westminster. He might even face opposition from current Labour MP for Erdington, Jack Dromey, and certainly from council group leader Sir Albert Bore.
It will be fascinating to see who the Tories put up for mayor. Will it be city council leader Mike Whitby, or are the rumours that he is about to be ennobled with a peerage see him depart for the House of Lords leaving the way clear for someone else?
As for the Liberal Democrats, I look forward to an interesting selection tussle between Paul Tilsley and John Hemming.
Hemming has already put forward one less than helpful suggestion, that a candidate might run on an anti-mayor ticket.
This person would, presumably, refuse the job if he won. Or perhaps the anti-mayor mayor might like the trappings of the office so much that he would serve his five years in power and seek re-election at the end?
Either way, the prospect of an anti-mayor candidate attracting support for all of the wrong reasons risks making Birmingham a laughing stock and would be bad news for the efficient running of the city.