RSS feed
Patrick Burns, Political editor, Midlands

Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

This is my take on politics in the Midlands - a region of five and a half million people with a diverse, exciting political landscape

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.

At the risk of being accused of a flagrant attempt to boost my tally of "hits", I suggest you read this in conjunction with that post, published in January.

In the nearly two months since then, what, if anything, has happened to dispel the fog of uncertainty?

For all the sound and fury of their pre-campaign campaigning, barely distinguishable from the real thing, neither of the two biggest parties has established a clear advantage over the other.

Read full article Election 2015: Targets, switches and swings

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.

Read full article How the Midlands is learning to live with the LEPs

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.

Read full article Politics can damage your health in needle elections

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".

Read full article West Midlands devolution hitting a 'log jam'

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

West Midlands councils braced for funding cuts

  • 18 December 2014
  • From the section England
View of Library of Birmingham from the amphitheatre
More than half of the 188 staff at the new library's staff are to be cut, and opening hours halved

Next year's £117m savings proposed by Birmingham City Council mean 1,100 more job losses.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council set out plans to save £31m with the loss of 500 jobs on the very day the chancellor's Autumn Statement confirmed we are not even halfway through the so-called 'Austerity Cuts'.

Read full article West Midlands councils braced for funding cuts

Why Coventry has a crucial say in devolution debate

  • 10 December 2014
  • From the section England
Map of UK jigsaw

Q. "What do you get if you draw a line from Gloucester north east to Grimsby?"

A. "The real dividing line between north and south," says Professor David Bailey, from Aston University in Birmingham.

Read full article Why Coventry has a crucial say in devolution debate

Osborne's open door ups the ante for Midlands devo deal

  • 3 December 2014
  • From the section England
George Osborne
Mr Osborne said in a recent interview with the Birmingham Post that there was no one-size-fits-all model

"We have delivered in Manchester and my door is open to other cities who want to follow their cross-party lead."

George Osborne's overture to major cities who have yet to benefit from the sort of largesse he showered on the "Northern Powerhouse" during his Autumn Statement clearly ramps-up the pressure on council leaders in places like Coventry and Solihull.

Read full article Osborne's open door ups the ante for Midlands devo deal

University leader speaks out on "good immigration"

  • 28 November 2014
  • From the section England
Students
The University of Birmingham's chancellor has called for an increase in the number of international students

Immigration seems to be the big issue driving our politics - from every doorstep on every street, to Westminster, Brussels and beyond, right up to the general election and who knows for how long after that.

And this week's net migration figures will only add fuel to the argument.

Read full article University leader speaks out on "good immigration"

Midlands set to become an even bigger 'Powerhouse'

  • 12 November 2014
  • From the section England
Sir Albert Bore
Can Sir Albert Bore convince the government that Birmingham should be given a larger role in rebalancing the economy?

"Come and join us!"

There was more than an echo of the old Corries song when I talked to the leader of Britain's biggest local authority for Midlands Today.

Read full article Midlands set to become an even bigger 'Powerhouse'

More Correspondents

  • John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

    Political musings from the East Midlands to Westminster


  • Paul Barltrop, Political editor, West of England Paul Barltrop Political editor, West of England

    Thoughts and analysis on politics in the West of England


  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick


About Patrick

First experience of Parliament as a young BBC journalist was a session of PMQ's when Harold Wilson was being interrogated by Margaret Thatcher.

Reported on The Troubles in Northern Ireland for four years including the worst-ever IRA attack on the army at Warrenpoint.

First became a Lobby journalist at Westminster as part of a team of correspondents which included such legendary figures as John Cole and John Sergeant.

He has been on the "inside track" at Westminster from the "high water" mark of the Thatcher period, through the Blair/Brown era to the unfolding drama of the Cameron/Clegg coalition.

Patrick grew up in Birmingham and went to university in Manchester. He has lived in Birmingham for 25 years.

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.