Liberal Democrat councillors - or rather the grand and important ones who sit in the upper echelons of the Local Government Association - are in a funk and a tizz about dear old Eric:
"Concerns about the weakness of the secretary of state have been raised within all three of the main political groups here at the LGA and the message has been heard loud and clear by leading figures in the government. The situation has been likened to having a republican in charge of the monarchy."
Oh dear, oh dear! What has Eric done to upset Richard Kemp and his statist pals? Apparently Liberal Democrats (or rather the Liberal Democrat who wrote this particular communication) are different from Conservatives:
"A key difference between Lib Dem and Conservative views on localism is that Lib Dems believe in representative democracy – Conservatives are happy to bypass elected local government and give power direct to local residents."
So all those years of listening to Liberal Democrats waxing lyrically about 'localism', 'community empowerment' and 'devolution' was all so much nonsense! And as for Eric Pickles being "weak" - this seems to me one of the silliest observations in a long while. What this author really means, of course, is that Eric didn't get a better settlement for local government, not that he is weak!
Here in Bradford, as we brace ourselves for a spiteful, sustained - and largely unnecessary - attack by Labour on services to ordinary people in Cullingworth and elsewhere, the attitude to openness is illustrated by our leader's decision to keep all the council's financial information secret. And where the commitment to localism is contained in spending £4million on buying a City Centre office block.