A Midlands Powerhouse: But who wants a 'metro mayor'?

  • 26 May 2015
  • From the section England
Greater Birmingham sign
'Greater Birmingham' could stretch as far as Coventry and Wolverhampton

All this talk about the "Northern Powerhouse" seems to be concentrating minds wonderfully here in the West Midlands.

The combined authority proposed six months ago by four Black Country councils with Birmingham has now enlisted the influential support of Coventry's ruling Labour group.

Even Conservative-controlled Solihull, by far the most reluctant potential partner, is set to debate a recommendation that it should join in as well.

A Midlands Powerhouse in which Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and a potential High-Speed rail station were conspicuous by their absence would be something of a nonsense.

The prize being held out by the chancellor, George Osborne, is the unprecedented bumper bundle of political and spending powers worth billions of pounds, along the lines of those already being handed out to councils in and around Manchester.

Read full article A Midlands Powerhouse: But who wants a 'metro mayor'?

Why Nuneaton was the Basildon of 2015

  • 13 May 2015
  • From the section England
Marcus Jones
Conservative Marcus Jones increased his Nuneaton majority by nearly 3,000 and said voters in the Warwickshire town had 'spoken for Britain'

"Wow!"

Of all the countless syllables uttered during the political career of the one-time council leader and newly appointed Local Government Minister Marcus Jones, this will probably go down as the one that will always stand out.

Read full article Why Nuneaton was the Basildon of 2015

Drum beats in Midlands election battle

  • 1 May 2015
  • From the section England
Debate audience
The debate was held at The Drum arts centre on Wednesday

What do Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise have in common with Sajid Javid, Tristram Hunt, Nigel Farage and Lorely Burt?

And do please resist the temptation to tell me they were or are all clowns!

Read full article Drum beats in Midlands election battle

What happens if pensioners vote but young people don't

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section England
BBC Newsbeat debate
Young voters joined BBC Newsbeat's debate in Birmingham on Tuesday

The magnificent Great Hall of the University of Birmingham has established itself as one of Britain's great cathedrals dedicated to our political devotions.

In the past five years it has seen a 2010 televised prime ministerial debate, a husting event in the resultant Labour leadership campaign and a well-attended public meeting addressed by their lordships Heseltine and Adonis in support of their so far unavailing campaign for the city to elect its own executive mayor.

Read full article What happens if pensioners vote but young people don't

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.

Read full article Why this is a very local general election

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.

Read full article Some highs and lows from the Midlands campaign trail

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.

Read full article Election 2015: Midlands snapshots and predictions

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.

Read full article Election 2015: Targets, switches and swings