General election 2019: In the Midlands this is historic

Image caption Gary Sambrook won the Northfield seat with a majority of 1,640

'We must win back the cities'

Even while she was celebrating her hat-trick of election victories 32 years ago, Margaret Thatcher sounded a warning to her party.

And in all the years that followed I have been able to tease our local Conservatives by pointing out that this self-professed "work-in-progress" remained unfulfilled.

Until now.

For the first time in 22 years, one of the nine constituencies bearing the name of Birmingham has a Conservative MP.

The newly-elected member for Northfield, Gary Sambrook told me: "We are the party of the working people now."

You can see why the Tories are calling themselves "the People's Government" when you examine the roll call of Tory gains, including both the West Bromwich seats, two out of three in Wolverhampton and very nearly the third, and all three in Stoke-on-Trent.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Tom Watson stood down as West Bromwich East MP and Labour deputy leader ahead of the election

I remember when Labour held all 60 seats on the city council during the 90s: This result would have seemed quite unthinkable then.

This will be seen as a vindication of the Conservatives' core strategy to reach out to voters in places which registered big proportions of Leave votes in the Referendum and which feel ignored by Labour's leadership.

Just moments before the declaration confirming his defeat in Stoke-on-Trent Central, the now former Labour MP Gareth Snell told us Labour's campaign had been "a disaster".

Without mentioning influential London MPs like Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott by name, he poured scorn on what he called "the siren voices" of those who had been more concerned about outflanking the Liberal Democrats' charm offensive to Remain supporters in the capital than they were with what was happening in places which felt, as the saying goes, "left behind".

He was the first to call for Jeremy Corbyn's resignation, followed later in the night, as the scale of Labour's defeat took shape, by the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, the shadow Europe minister Khalid Mahmood.

What happens next?

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Labour MP Jess Phillips said she was "heartbroken" by her party's performance

While the Conservatives plan for government with a bigger majority than they have enjoyed at any time since that 1987 election, Labour face a period of soul-searching and, probably leadership-searching too.

Speculation will inevitably focus around the Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, one of Mr Corbyn's most outspoken critics within the party.

While the results were being declared in the city's International Convention Centre, she told me she was "heartbroken".

Her party had failed the people. But this was not the time for her, as she put it, "to scalp Jeremy Corbyn". Watch this space!

After an election dominated by numbers, some more reliable than others, this is how the brutal parliamentary arithmetic adds up in our part of the country.

In a region of 63 constituencies, the Conservatives held 39 seats in the last Parliament and Labour, 24. Now it's 48 Conservatives and just 15 Labour.

This will be seen as a landmark general election in which the political map of so much of our region has been transformed.

One thing, though, remains the same.

The Midlands has long been much more of a two-party affair than any other region. The Liberal Democrats had no local MPs in the last Parliament, and they still haven't.

Sunday Politics Midlands

What a time for us to reflect on this political high drama in our final programme before Christmas. I hope you will join me at the slightly later time of 10.15 GMT on BBC One West Midlands this Sunday, 15 December 2019.