The best route to high office in British politics?
Eric Pickles is a rare example of a local government leader to have reached the top in Westminster politics, and the first in a Conservative Cabinet in modern times.
Pickles led Bradford City Council in the 1980s, as a revolutionary Thatcherite who tried to show local government could be run very differently from the policies of the Labour Left.
The only three other Cabinet ministers I can recall who were council leaders were Herbert Morrision, David Blunkett and Geoffrey Rippon. There must surely be others, but I can't think of them right now.
There are several substantial council leaders in contrast, who have failed to make much impact at Westminster.
Jon Trickett, Graham Stringer, Louise Ellman, George Mudie, Clive Betts, Bob Laxton, James Plaskitt, Peter Soulsby, Alan Whitehead, and Ken Livingstone are all examples of Labour MPs who previously ran major councils but never did much (or anything) as ministers.
Margaret Hodge, the former Islington leader, spent most of the Blair-Brown years as a minister, but still never made Cabinet.
Again on the Conservative side Christopher Chope and Paul Beresford never managed to transfer their council leadership into Cabinet office.
Where senior politicians have served as councillors - such as John Major, Vince Cable, John Redwood and Peter Mandelson - their local government service has generally been pretty brief.
The message seems to be that if you want high office in British politics being a ministerial special adviser is by far the better route - as David Cameron, both Milibands, Ed Balls, Jack Straw, George Osborne, and Vince Cable (again) all show.