UPDATE: Though he does use the past tense, a number of other councils were cited by Clegg on a specious basis: on Lambeth Council the Lib Dems formed a coalition with Tories from 2002 to, erm, 2006; they lost control of Liverpool City Council in May along with Southwark.
Prior to the New Politics™ of coalition, the Liberal Democrats brandished their experience running several large local authorities to ward off accusations of administrative inexperience. This was continued with prominent local government references in Nick Clegg’s speech to the party faithful yesterday, where he framed the need for Tax Increment Finance, in which councils borrow against predicted growth in business rates, thusly:
“Our leaders in Sheffield say it could allow the redevelopment of derelict mines in the Don Valley; our leaders in Newcastle believe this could help them create a new science park; in Leeds they argue the Aire Valley could be transformed.”
But as the LGiU blog asked, who exactly are these Liberal Democrat “leaders” in Leeds? The city was previously run by a coalition of Liberals and Tories, with the post of council leader alternating between the two groups on a six-month cycle. However this arrangement came crashing to the ground in the wake of shock local election results in May. Labour bucked the national trend to take four additional seats, eventually going on to form a minority administration with the Greens.
In the crucible of post election negotiations with with David Cameron, perhaps developments in West Yorkshire escaped the notice of Liberal Democrat spinners? Indeed, such faith did the Leeds Liberals have in leadership name-checked by Nick Clegg yesterday that they dumped it at the first possible opportunity after the election, with Cllr Stewart Golton replacing Richard Brett as the head of their battered council grouping.
It’s good to see the Lib Dems know which councils they are running!