Birmingham city council forms new cabinet: here is the full members list

Birmingham Labour Group has announced the full city council cabinet - here is the full list of all the members and some local politics expert reaction

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The Birmingham city council has a new leader chosen by the Labour Party, and a new cabinet has now been appointed.

Former leader Ian Ward was at the helm since 2017. On Sunday (May 21) the Labour Party announced that Cllr John Cotton, formerly the cabinet member responsible for social justice, community safety and equalities, had replaced Ward with Cllr Sharon Thompson (North Edgbaston) as his deputy.

The change comes after an internal report from the Labour Party found the leadership of the group in Birmingham was “dysfunctional”. Cllr Cotton was picked by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

Reacting to his new appointment Cotton, councillor for Glebe Farm and Tile Cross, told ITV news: “This is a huge honour, leading the city that has always been home. These are not the circumstances I would have wanted to take over in, but I feel I have a duty to serve. I will do all I can to unite the Birmingham Labour Party and deliver for our citizens.

“I want to pay tribute to Ian Ward who has not only led Birmingham City Council through a cost of living crisis, pandemic and delivered the greatest ever Commonwealth Games, but has given a lifetime of service to our movement. Now, Birmingham Labour Group has announced the full cabinet:

The full cabinet

  • Leader - Cllr John Cotton
  • Deputy leader - Cllr Sharon Thompson
  • Finance - Cllr Brigid Jones
  • Housing and homelessness - Cllr Jayne Francis
  • Environment - Cllr Majid Mahmood
  • Transport - Cllr Liz Clements
  • Children, Young People and Families - Cllr Karen McCarthy
  • Health and Social Care - Cllr Mariam Khan
  • Digital, Culture, Heritage & Tourism - Cllr Saima Suleman
  • Social Justice, Community Safety & Equalities - Cllr Nicky Brennan
Birmingham City Council house. Photo by Carl Jackson. Birmingham City Council house. Photo by Carl Jackson.
Birmingham City Council house. Photo by Carl Jackson.

Expert reaction to new Birmingham City Council Leader

Dr Steven McCabe and Beverley Nielsen, Associate Professors and political economists at Birmingham City University, have commented on the appointment of Councillor John Cotton (Lab, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross) as the new leader of Birmingham City Council, who took on the role yesterday following an intervention by the national Labour Party.

Associate Professor Steven McCabe said: “That the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has produced a report which concludes the climate within Birmingham City Council’s group as ‘dysfunctional’ and that there were instances of racism, misogyny and harassment is not good.

“Little wonder it has taken the decisive action to remove current leader Ian Ward and replace him with politician John Cotton, seen by many as a ‘vanilla’ choice, supported by deputy Sharon Thompson.

“As a number within the local Labour group - as well as MPs in Birmingham - have made clear, this is hardly a democratic way for people to select the leadership of their local authority. There’s a definite perception that what has occurred is something of a ‘stitch-up’ by the NEC, which is operating under the instructions of leader Sir Keir Starmer.

“Whether the newly imposed leadership can bring relief to Birmingham’s hard-pressed citizens experiencing the most profound cost-of-living crisis for a generation is questionable. Many have little or no interest in who local politicians are. It’s unlikely they will either know, or care who John Cotton is.”

“However, and though this may feel like a defining moment for Birmingham, it’s clear that only those with vested interests on the change will be happy. The majority will simply shrug and suggest that the conclusions of the NEC report indicate that politics, nationally as well as local, are as agenda-driven and self-serving as ever.”

Associate Professor Beverley Nielsen said: “The NEC Board have done what they said they’d do and tackled this matter decisively and quickly. John Cotton and Sharon Thompson are seen as competent and professional operators. In appointing them with the support of the NEC, it is anticipated that any threat to their leadership is removed for the next three years, providing greater stability ahead of the General and Mayoral elections.

“It’s hard on the previous leadership, Ian Ward and Brigid Jones - especially when the Council has recently delivered high profile events such as the Commonwealth Games, to theirs and the City’s credit.

“The new leadership will be joined by a Chief Whip to be announced this afternoon who will have greater disciplinary and enforcement powers and links into the NEC to deal with any matters, for example leaks to press following confidential meetings, with immediate suspension.

“Yes, it’s a very big ask to helicopter in a new person into the role of leader of Birmingham City Council. John Cotton has considerable experience as former Cabinet member for social justice, community safety and equalities with experience as a councillor since 1999 along with being the council’s representative on the WMCA board.

“However, the NEC approach will have led to further resentments and splits. It will take a master tactician to bring this party together and unite it which is what John has promised to do.”