City Hall is currently buzzing with the shock news of Ian Couzen's departure, as predicted by this blog (several times) in the past. Councillors and staff now await the result of a leadership election. Couzens will shortly announce that he is standing down as Eaton Councillor in May 07 (again, predicted here some time ago).
The questions looming large and now, why did he resign and who'll replace him.
The timing of his resignation is odd. You might have thought that having been roundly humiliated in May, Cllr Couzens may have chosen to resign with some dignity and honour in the days following 5th May. That way the AGM of the Nowich LibDems could elect the new Leader as would normally be the case. However, if you remember at the time, his own Deputy made an attack in the press saying that the leadership was under discussion. Being pretty gutless, the LibDem Councillors who should have made a challenge didn't and he has since got away with being a pretty ineffective leader of the opposition. Since then, the plotting has been rife and rather open too. As I've said here before, Cllr Lubbock has been playing guerilla warfare in the council chamber and Cllr Cooke has been building up his own reputation. Then, a few months on, Ian finally resigns. Why? The best time had passed - does he think he won't hold his seat next May, or were there threats to revolt from his own frontbench team?
Either way, the LibDems now find themselves on the electoral slide, financially adrift, leaderless and with their reputation and media profile in tatters. I'm sure Charles Clarke is crying into his pint as you read...
With the Green Party now tied to the Labour apronstrings, you can be sure that the Conservatives will step up the mantle - what shall we call ourselves, the "real opposition"?