Time to say farewell to East Midlands politics

  • 2 July 2015
  • From the section England
John Hess with a framed picture
Image caption After nearly 40 years with the BBC, John Hess is set for retirement

All good things have to come to an end eventually. But after 37 years with the BBC - half of that as political editor for the East Midlands - I've decided it's time to move on.

This will be my last blog but it has offered me an opportunity to look back and reflect.

The tiny village of Boothorpe, in North West Leicestershire, probably captures the biggest economic and political changes in the East Midlands that I've witnessed.

It started with a big hole in the ground and it is now one of the biggest landfill sites in the country.

I was here 18 years ago. The then local MP, Labour's David Taylor, had introduced his own parliamentary bill to toughen planning regulations for opencast mining. It was in response to residents' anger.

'Legal precedent'

Read full article Time to say farewell to East Midlands politics

Should we lose civil liberties for national security?

  • 20 June 2015
  • From the section England
Talha Asmal Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Islamic State posted pictures on Twitter of Talha Asmal preparing for the suicide attack on Baiji

It's a question that's perplexed many. Why would a teenage boy from the UK go to a foreign war zone and become a suicide bomber?

Talha Asmal, from West Yorkshire, was photographed posing for Islamic State before blowing himself up at an Iraqi oil refinery. At 17, he became the country's youngest suicide bomber.

Read full article Should we lose civil liberties for national security?

Labour's post-election bid to listen to 'lost voters'

  • 11 June 2015
  • From the section England
Image caption Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth said it was clear young homeowners were not voting Labour

Ask any political activist or Westminster watcher and they will admit it is the excitement of an election campaign that kick starts an adrenaline rush.

There's an element of that in the current race for the Labour Party leadership. However, the party's catastrophic general election defeat looms over this leadership contest.

Read full article Labour's post-election bid to listen to 'lost voters'

'Metro mayors' for East Mids? Chancellor's new ultimatum

  • 3 June 2015
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George Osborne said he wanted to see a "radical shift" in power from Whitehall

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has issued an ultimatum to East Midlands' politicians who want more powers from Whitehall: No mayor, no devolution.

He told a business audience in Derby the local devolution package is dependent on the appointment of a so-called "metro mayor" - an elected figurehead who would be directly answerable to the voters.

Read full article 'Metro mayors' for East Mids? Chancellor's new ultimatum

Could Liz Kendall reach out to Middle England voters?

  • 27 May 2015
  • From the section England
Liz Kendall MP
Image caption Leicester West MP Liz Kendall is one of the favourites to be the next Labour leader

So could Leicester be the Midlands powerhouse to propel Liz Kendall to lead her party?

Certainly, according to the bookies, the hot money is backing the Kendall Labour bid.

Read full article Could Liz Kendall reach out to Middle England voters?

Election 2015: Swings and roundabouts in the East Midlands?

  • 15 May 2015
  • From the section England
AFP/Getty Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Nicky Morgan kept her Loughborough seat and saw a 5% swing to the Tories

If election manifesto claims are all about smoke and mirrors, should we now add swings and roundabouts to the political metaphor?

There's an intriguing aspect to the general election results in the Midlands that puzzled me.

Read full article Election 2015: Swings and roundabouts in the East Midlands?

Packed halls, lively debate: Why hustings are a hit

Hustings in a chapel
Image caption A number of hustings have been held in churches and chapels across the East Midlands

David Cameron has been telling reporters that this election campaign is not about photo opportunities but more about the UK's long term economic revival.

However, that's at the heart of the media's frustration.

Read full article Packed halls, lively debate: Why hustings are a hit

Battleground Broxtowe: Could HS2 decide marginal seat?

Potential HS2 train design Image copyright HS2
Image caption The possibility of Toton being a HS2 hub station has divided candidates in Broxtowe

The East Midlands battleground seat of Broxtowe has a reputation for being the touch and go constituency.

In the last general election, the Conservatives' Anna Soubry took the Nottingham suburban seat from Labour with a majority of less than 400. But after five years of austerity, the outcome in this election is too difficult to call. That's why it is so sensitive.

Read full article Battleground Broxtowe: Could HS2 decide marginal seat?

Why Nicky Morgan faces a new battle to defend her seat

Image caption The Conservatives, Labour, UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and Greens have all declared their candidates for Loughborough

In the battle of the marginals, it always helps to get the bigger picture and a sense of historical perspective. So let me suggest a visit to Cotes Bridge on the outskirts of Loughborough.

During the English Civil War in the 1640s, there was a pitched battle here between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers.

Read full article Why Nicky Morgan faces a new battle to defend her seat

Standing down: Former East Midlands MPs sit out election campaign

  • 1 April 2015
  • From the section England
Removal company outside Westminster Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Removal companies were brought in to the Houses of Parliament as several MPs stood down

Away from the heat and battle of this election, three Conservative politicians in the East Midlands will view the campaign from the sidelines.

They're the MPs who've decided to call it a day and step down.

Read full article Standing down: Former East Midlands MPs sit out election campaign