Names in frames for key by-election in Stoke Central

  • 31 January 2017
  • From the section England
Image caption Twenty years ago Labour had a 20,000 majority in Stoke Central. In 2015, it was down to just more than 5,000

Factor of 10

So now we know. Ten candidates will contest the most eagerly-awaited Midlands by-election for many years.

It will test whether or not Labour's official support for the Remain campaign has driven a wedge between the party and its core support.

Stoke Central, long considered the safest of safe Labour seats, will prove or disprove the theory that there is no longer any such thing, with all that entails for Jeremy Corbyn, overwhelmingly re-elected less than six months ago as party leader.

Twenty years ago, Labour had a 20,000 majority here. In 2015, it was down to just over 5,000. And that was pre-Corbyn and pre-Brexit.

Image copyright BBC Getty
Image caption Pictured left to right: Zulfiqar Ali (Lib Dem), Jack Brereton (Conservative), Paul Nuttall (UKIP) and Gareth Snell (Labour)

But UKIP and the Conservatives have plenty to fight for as well, to reinforce their credentials as the Brexit parties.

Read full article Names in frames for key by-election in Stoke Central

Farmers fear Brexit lands them in agricultural business

  • 25 January 2017
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Most farmers were enthusiastic Remainers

"We're Out!"

So declared David Dimbleby during those unforgettable early hours of 24 June last year, as the epic scale of what we were witnessing started to sink in.

From my outside broadcast position at the Birmingham count, I spelled it out in my best stentorian tones: "The English heartlands have voted overwhelmingly to Leave the European Union".

Read full article Farmers fear Brexit lands them in agricultural business

In the hunt: Stoke Central by-election for all parties

  • 16 January 2017
  • From the section England
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Will Tristram Hunt's departure lead the way for more MPs to jump from the Labour ship.

Farewell to the only Tristram in Stoke.

"He's not from round here". That was how many Potteries people greeted the news that Tristram Hunt had landed in Stoke-on-Trent Central with the aid of the proverbial parachute, during the run-up to the 2010 general election.

Read full article In the hunt: Stoke Central by-election for all parties

West Brom v Liverpool for union top job

  • 11 January 2017
  • From the section England
Len McCluskey and Gerard Coyne
Image caption Current Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey faces a challenge from Gerard Coyne, as well as Ian Allinson

Asked if Liverpool Football Club's next match was a matter of life and death, the late-lamented manager Bill Shankly replied: "No, it's much more important than that".

Now, a present-day son of that city is facing an epic showdown which may feel to him even more important than football. And it could turn out to be a proxy battle for the very future of the Labour Party itself.

Read full article West Brom v Liverpool for union top job

What price 'devo' if we don't punch our weight in Lords?

  • 6 December 2016
  • From the section England
House of Lords Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Our region's line-up in the Lords comprises nine Conservatives, 14 Labour peers, two Liberal Democrats, one UKIP and six non-partisan Crossbenchers.

Devolution revolution. It's certainly all the rage in the Commons these days.

There were repeated references to 'the Midlands Engine' during Prime Minister's Questions last week.

Read full article What price 'devo' if we don't punch our weight in Lords?

No more playing to the gallery for Midlands councils

  • 29 November 2016
  • From the section England
Walsall New Art Gallery
Image caption Walsall's New Art Gallery cost £21m to build and opened in 2000. It was one of the Millennium Projects along with Tate Modern and the British Museum Great Court

Who can tell me what exactly is the Garman Ryan Collection?

If you can't, you probably have that in common with roughly 99.999% recurring of the population.

Read full article No more playing to the gallery for Midlands councils

Chancellor Hammond aims to get the Midlands moving

  • 23 November 2016
  • From the section England
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Hammond promised more details of road improvements would be announced in the Midlands within the next few days

It's Philip Hammond's first Autumn Statement since his move from Foreign Secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But during his 50-minute speech he sounded more like the Transport Secretary he once was: that was indeed his first Cabinet job during the early years of the Coalition Government.

Read full article Chancellor Hammond aims to get the Midlands moving

Midlands Militant leaders apply to rejoin Labour Party

  • 15 November 2016
  • From the section England
Michael Foot and Tony Benn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Labour Party 'moderates' considered Michael Foot, left, 'an unelectable leader' who went into the 1983 election with a manifesto described as 'the longest suicide note in history'

For those of us with long memories, it rekindles vivid recollections of the internecine strife, red in tooth and claw, and above all, the sheer poison, which took the Labour Party to the brink of pressing the self-destruct button three decades ago.

All the combatants in those epic struggles throughout the early 1980s were convinced it was the battle which would define the destiny of their party.

Read full article Midlands Militant leaders apply to rejoin Labour Party

Midlands "Metro Mayor": what's the big idea?

  • 2 November 2016
  • From the section England
Birmingham Council House
Image caption Voters in Birmingham and Coventry have previously rejected the idea of a mayor.

There are now just six months to go until a new-style 'Metro Mayor' is elected to lead three million Midlanders in the region's 'core' conurbation stretching from Wolverhampton to Coventry and including Britain's second biggest city, Birmingham.

On the face of it there is more than a hint of irony about the Government's insistence in the name of local democracy on a leadership model that has been rejected by Coventry's voters and by Birmingham's, twice.

Read full article Midlands "Metro Mayor": what's the big idea?

The legacy of Enoch Powell makes drama out of a crisis

  • 25 October 2016
  • From the section England
Man walking past graffiti stating "Powell For PM" (prime minister), 1st May 1968 Image copyright EveningStandard/Getty
Image caption Enoch Powell's famous Rivers of Blood speech (although he did not say those words) was made at Birmingham's Midland Hotel. It led to reverberations around the country.

It became known as "The Rivers of Blood Speech."

It condemned Enoch Powell to the margins of British politics and its reverberations continue to this day.

Read full article The legacy of Enoch Powell makes drama out of a crisis