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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

Worcestershire takes new lead in devolution debate

  • 22 October 2014
  • From the section England
Birmingham Council House
Should decision making be taken away from Westminster and be given to Birmingham?

"What about us?"

A chorus of 'me toos' echoed across the land when David Cameron declared, in the wake of the Scottish Referendum result, that "we must re-empower our great cities".

Inevitably, attention focused on how the Birminghams, Manchesters and Newcastles might be granted new powers to compensate for yet more political muscle being devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This has intensified still further with the publication of the RSA City Growth Commission's study calling for 15 major cities including Birmingham to be given a greater say in tax and spending which, it says, could boost economic growth by £79bn by 2030.

Economist Jim O'Neil, who led the study, confidently expects the plans for big cities to generate more spending power for themselves and rely less on government grants will be the centrepiece of Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement on 3 December.

Read full article Worcestershire takes new lead in devolution debate

Police commissioners to be decommissioned say Labour

  • 14 October 2014
  • From the section England
Theresa May
The role of police and crime commissioner is one of Theresa May's flagship policies

"If it's broke, don't fix it!"

Labour says it would turn the well-worn catchphrase on its head because the role of police and crime commissioner (PCC), one of the flagship policies of Home Secretary Theresa May, is broken beyond repair.

Read full article Police commissioners to be decommissioned say Labour

Political chess is game of chance as end game nears

  • 1 October 2014
  • From the section England
Kings on a chess board
Politics is a game of moves and false moves, just like a game of chess

"It's like a game of chess," we used to say in days gone by.

Every move our politicians made could be analysed and interpreted, not only for its significance in the wider electoral tournament but also for the possible moves, or false moves, it might induce from opponents.

Read full article Political chess is game of chance as end game nears

Political pile-up on the road to Birmingham

  • 26 September 2014
  • From the section England
David Cameron
The Conservative conference starts in Birmingham on Sunday

It feels like a car crash.

These days keeping up with political traffic can give you whiplash.

Read full article Political pile-up on the road to Birmingham

Scotland's answer poses the English question

  • 19 September 2014
  • From the section England
Jubilant "No" campaigners
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK Thursday

"There are more questions than answers."

So said the old song and it certainly sums up the outcome of the Scottish Referendum.

Read full article Scotland's answer poses the English question

Scottish referendum will test regions south of border

  • 27 August 2014
  • From the section England
Money generic
Will "the canny Scots" vote with their wallets?

It has been in place for over 300 years but it turns out the Act of Union between England and Scotland is a much looser affair than many of us had thought.

For once, the legalistic title is unexpectedly accurate: it is an act of union jointly engaged-in by two willing partners.

Read full article Scottish referendum will test regions south of border

Will PCC poll be a by-election or a referendum?

  • 31 July 2014
  • From the section England
Voter apathy
Will people go to the polls to choose a new police and crime commissioner in August?

If you want to demonstrate just how low turnouts in public elections are capable of plummeting, you could do no better than to plan a poll to choose a police and crime commissioner (PCC) during the dog days of summer: Thursday 21 August to be precise.

Especially in the West Midlands where the numbers in the original PCC elections in November 2012 were the second lowest anywhere in England and Wales. Just 12%of the two million people eligible to vote in the police force area actually did so. In some areas only one person in 20 took the trouble.

Read full article Will PCC poll be a by-election or a referendum?

A local take on the growth agenda

  • 8 July 2014
  • From the section England
Whitehall
Should decisions about the West Midlands economy be made here or at Whitehall?

"This is the end of the Whitehall-knows-best culture": David Cameron

When the prime minister came to Halesowen College to unveil his government's growth fund, this was his answer to my question about the real significance of these latest deals.

Read full article A local take on the growth agenda

New local government chief Sparks debate on budget cuts

  • 1 July 2014
  • From the section England
Statue of Confucius in Beijing
Could Confucius steer the Local Government Association through troubled waters?

"May you live in interesting times" - Confucius?

Commonly known as the "Chinese curse" it is assumed the great man was using "interesting" as a euphemism for "chaotic" or even "disastrous".

Read full article New local government chief Sparks debate on budget cuts

Patrick added analysis to:

West Midlands PCC Bob Jones dies aged 59

"The untimely death at the age of 59 of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, has brought about the first departure from office of any of the commissioners who were elected in November 2012.

The government's big idea in triggering PCC elections was to replace the old police authorities (considered by ministers to be invisible and ineffective) with high-profile figures, who would be directly accountable to local communities.

Read full article West Midlands PCC Bob Jones dies aged 59

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.

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