They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that is how the ruling Tory-Lib Dem coalition are viewing Labour’s manifesto for the local election.
Labour, facing the likelihood of a return to power after eight years in opposition, have produced their most comprehensive manifesto in many a year.
The Tories, who expect to return to the backbenches, and Lib Dems, whose days as a political force in the council chamber seem numbered, have not bothered.
The Labour manifesto has focused on enterprise and jobs, housing and education.
And the Tories have pointed out they are building on and accelerating several of the successes of the coalition.
The pledge to build 70,000 homes by 2026, works out at 3,000 a year. Under John Lines and Elaine Elkington the council is building 500 homes a year for the first time in a generation.
Another success has been the new wave of Extra Care Retirement Villages, and Labour wants to build more than the five we have at present.
There is all the usual bluster about low carbon industry, a city of enterprise – the type of rhetoric that has filled speeches by the current Whitby and Tilsley leadership for several years.
The crackdown on unruly tenants and anti-social behaviour and return to community policing are pledges that any politician would be happy to make.
This should not be taken as a bad thing. The Labour group, backed by their eight MPs, have seen what works and want more of it.
One policy would be a Birmingham Baccalaureate to provide teenagers with the skills and qualifications needed by local commerce and industry – replacing subjects like woodwork with computer code programming for example. This policy, developed from talks with the Birmingham Chamber, suggests that the city’s education system is not working as well as it might.
There is also a plan to devolve more powers to local neighbourhoods and constituencies – with responsibility for housing, leisure centres, parks, local roads and transport handed down.
At present we have a messy centralised situation and nominal local powers which has been exploited by politicians to claim credit for good news or pass blame for bad.
Recent arguments over repairs for Moseley Road Baths or Erdington Library opening hours have highlighted this.
Perhaps most striking is the “peace of mind” pledge, which Labour claims will transform care for the elderly and “provide a system of security unparalleled anywhere else in the country”.
The backdrop to all this of course is that by November we could have an elected mayor running Birmingham on a different manifesto.
But with all eight MPs and the council leadership on side, this Labour Party policy is likely to become Labour mayoral policy.
On the subject of mayoral elections the rumours are now flying thick and fast, and the Labour Party, as front runner, is generating the most dazzling array of speculation and conspiracies.
Parliamentary boundary changes, including the abolition of the Hodge Hill seat and the creation of the new Harborne seat are only adding to the mix.
Liam Byrne will go for it, with Sir Albert standing down to run as his deputy or assistant.
The other declared Labour candidate, Gisela Stuart, may also get involved in this pact, rumours suggest.
Meanwhile, Sion Simon has either the endorsement of senior Labour figures who will ensure he is selected in return for giving up his Erdington seat two years ago, or has done enough meeting and greeting to secure the selection.
If he does win, a number of Labour supporters may go independent rather than back him.
Of course, friends of Sion may also go independent rather than back Sir Albert, Gisela or Liam.
Various influential members are being approached with promises of future favours should their man win the mayoralty. These include the candidacy in a Parliamentary by-election, such as in Hodge Hill or Edgbaston, or even the chance to challenge John Hemming in a revised Yardley seat in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems will be asked to choose between Paul Tilsley, as a steady candidate, or the maverick John Hemming, with all that personal baggage in tow. And Mike Whitby is the only show in town for the Tories, despite pleas for a contest from some quarters.
As far as I can see the only people who will definitely be on that ballot paper come November are independents Desmond Jaddoo and Ray Egan.
Coun Deirdre Alden had every right to be angry at this week’s Cabinet as her challenge, as chairwoman of the health scrutiny committee, to a care home fees freeze was dealt with a little too briskly.
Three working days between the scrutiny call-in and the Cabinet rejecting it does seem a little dismissive.
She was assured that wide-ranging discussions had taken place in private but rightly pointed out this is not good enough – if only to reassure the public that decisions are not railroaded through.
Let’s hope the Cabinet listens.