For 16 years Sir Albert Bore proved very successful at keeping more than half of a small number of Labour politicians happy.

And while his position as council leader has come and gone with the electoral tide he has maintained an iron grip on the Labour group leadership despite some nail-biting challenges which earned him the nickname The Great Survivor.

Even on Tuesday as it appeared his time was very much up a couple of older heads, scarred by previous battles, warned me ‘not to write him off yet’.

So for one so adept at keeping the right colleagues on side it is perhaps fitting that it was rebellion from within, rather than the electorate, which brought about the downfall.

Of course, in the normal scheme of things, Sir Albert could have bought some time and clung on until May, but the prospect of Government intervention gave the crisis an added urgency. The new leader will now be selected by the 78 strong group of councillors at some point in the next six weeks.

It was the same for Sir Albert who assumed the leadership from Theresa Stewart in an internal Labour group vote in 1999.

Vacancy sign at the Council House

Coun Stewart, the leader of six years, had delivered an election victory for her party and was replaced by Coun Bore within 24 hours.

The Birmingham Post wrote at the time: “The question for anyone outside the council buildings is whether Birmingham is going to win or lose as a result of the change of leadership.

Read: Who's in the running to lead Birmingham City Council?

“If this change is about no more than old struggles and feuds within the Labour group then it is of no interest and no use to the rest of the city. If it heralds change in policies and approach then it could be of utmost importance to Birmingham’s citizens, who will need to sit up and take notice of what is happening, and then decide if it is what they want.

“It is not as if the change has come about as a result of massive popular demand."

Those words are just as fitting today as they were 16 years ago.

Not a blow for democracy

Labour leader candidate Jeremy Corbyn was the main guest speaker at a packed rally in his honour organised by Merseyside TUC at the Adelphi hotel in Liverpool. Photo by James Maloney

It does seem odd that the Labour Party has opened its national leadership contest to anyone who could afford the £3 joining fee and hailed this move as a blow for democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn thus secured a huge mandate, but will, until 2020 at the earliest, wield no executive power.

Here in Birmingham where the public rejected the idea of an elected mayor at the 2012 referendum there will be no such groundswell of democracy to select Sir Albert’s successor as city leader. Sir Albert Bore was a master at securing the support of the council group and was always a keen advocate of the elected mayor.

He was one of only a handful of councillors to vote in favour following the supportive but non-binding referendum in 2001. He was willing to put his leadership on the line to deliver a mayor.

But the politicians kept their cosy arrangement and once again a small group will meet in private to select the next leader – a person with ultimate responsibility for a £3 billion budget.

Although there is no compulsion for the Labour Party to open up the vote to its wider members or the city at large – for the sake of democracy they could give it a go.