There were rousing cheers from the Labour benches of the House of Commons as MP Jack Dromey announced that his party had taken control of Birmingham City Council.
Although the local elections took place on May 3, Labour’s Sir Albert Bore became leader at a meeting of the full council on May 22.
And he’s planning to trip to Westminster. Mr Dromey, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, revealed that Sir Albert wanted to meet the Prime Minister.
He told MPs: “The Prime Minister pledged to give England’s great cities a seat at the heart of government.
“Yesterday, Labour took control of Birmingham city council. And the first thing the new council did was to agree to ask the Prime Minister to receive a delegation from the council and Birmingham’s MPs on a fair deal for Birmingham.
“Will the Prime Minister make good his pledge and agree to meet that delegation?”
While we’re surely all in favour of Birmingham’s representatives having as much of a voice as possible at Westminster, Mr Dromey wasn’t quite telling the full story.
The reality is that Mr Cameron promised that city mayors would have a seat at the heart of government. He made this pledge in March, announcing plans for a “cabinet of mayors” to be chaired, initially at least, by the Prime Minister himself.
This was before Birmingham went on to reject proposals for a mayor in a referendum.
It’s quite right that Sir Albert should try to ensure Birmingham doesn’t lose any influence because of its decision to reject a mayor. And Mr Cameron did indeed agree to meet him (although he pointed out that “I meet with leaders of councils up and down the country”, suggesting Sir Albert shouldn’t expect anything special).
However, the major cities that do have mayors – Liverpool, Leicester and Bristol – don’t have to ask for meetings. They’re going to be part of this cabinet from which Birmingham, unfairly perhaps, will be excluded.