Why this is a very local general election

  • 17 April 2015
  • From the section England
Presenter Robert McKenzie with the swingometer on election night, 1964.
Presenter Robert McKenzie with the swingometer on election night, 1964

Only people with long memories have clear recollections of simpler times when Professor Robert McKenzie's swingometer could tell the story of successive general elections.

Our part of the country has long been a two-party affair to a greater extent than anywhere else in the country, so a straightforward device pointing this way and then that was almost invariably quite good enough to do the job.

But what, I ask myself, would we need to visualise the infinite variety of 2015?

The best idea I have managed to come up with so far goes like this.

Imagine you suspend a needle from a thread above a table on which you position magnets of varying strengths and political colours in a circle.

Multi-party politics

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Some highs and lows from the Midlands campaign trail

  • 10 April 2015
  • From the section England
Nigel Farage
Cake and campaigning for UKIP's Nigel Farage in Dudley North on Tuesday

No question about the most memorable moment of my week. It came during a spectacularly sunny Tuesday in the Black Country

Nigel Farage had arrived paradoxically early in UKIP's target seat of Dudley North after fog had forced the curtailment of earlier planned visits in Staffordshire.

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Election 2015: Midlands snapshots and predictions

  • 30 March 2015
  • From the section England
A cleaner polishes the handle of 10 Downing Street
Who will be the next occupant of 10 Downing Street?

No Parliament. No MPs. Just candidates.

Today's dissolution marks the formal start of a five-and-a-half week election campaign. That's long by the standards of recent elections, even though for most of us it seems to have been full-on for an age already.

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After 'northern powerhouse' - a Midlands 'energy catapult'

  • 18 March 2015
  • From the section England
George Osborne
Mr Osborne's Budget marks 50 days to go until the general election

Exactly 50 days to go to the election comes a Budget which we'd been told would be crucial to the outcome.

Why?

Read full article After 'northern powerhouse' - a Midlands 'energy catapult'

"You must be a busy man, Patrick" So everybody tells me

  • 6 March 2015
  • From the section England

I wish I had one of those proverbial 'hot dinners' for every time I've been stopped in the street and told how busy I must be.

It's true of course. And I am about to get busier still.

Read full article "You must be a busy man, Patrick" So everybody tells me

Election 2015: Targets, switches and swings

  • 23 February 2015
  • From the section England
Lord Ashcroft
Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft suggests talk of a Nigel Farage-inspired revolution at the election has been "seriously overblown"

"All we know is that we don't know"

That's how I put it when last I blogged on the question of how our famous Midlands marginals might affect this most unpredictable of general elections.

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How the Midlands is learning to live with the LEPs

  • 10 February 2015
  • From the section England
Chairman Andy Street
Andy Street, chairman of Birmingham and Solihull LEP, has emerged as a very significant player on the local stage

"A Bonfire of the Quangos"

That was one promise the government has certainly fulfilled.

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Politics can damage your health in needle elections

  • 20 January 2015
  • From the section England
University Hospital North Midlands
The Royal Stoke was one of several hospitals in England to declare a "major incident" earlier in the month

As the pre-election tension mounts, so do the stress levels of the election strategists, contemplating parts of the country like ours, famous for our marginal or "swing" seats, which can have such a significant bearing on the outcome.

The converse is equally true: Health can damage your politics.

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West Midlands devolution hitting a 'log jam'

  • 12 January 2015
  • From the section England
Greater Birmingham map
How the combined authority, whatever it will be called, could be formed

For supporters of local devolution, who have spent years campaigning for our politics to be decentralised, Christmas came early.

In November, the Labour leader of Sandwell Council Darren Cooper proclaimed he had negotiated a "historic agreement".

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Midlands marginal seats could swing 2015 election

  • 5 January 2015
  • From the section England
New Year's Eve celebrations over the Houses of Parliament
2015 could be a turbulent year for the main political parties

The onset of a new year in politics usually prompts a flurry of more or less confident predictions about what the coming 12 months have in store, especially when a general election is involved.

This time though, the consensus is that all we know is that we don't know.

Read full article Midlands marginal seats could swing 2015 election