Keeping on track towards polling day on 8 June

  • 19 May 2017
  • From the section England
New Street tram

One of the most striking new features of our changing urban landscape has to be the glistening tram tracks snaking their way through our towns and cities.

And as regional devolution gathers pace like one of those shocking pink Midlands Metros, we know there will be plenty more, criss-crossing our West Midlands conurbation.

Principal tram stops are becoming familiar community meeting places.

So I am tracking opinions, trackside at Wolverhampton's St George's terminus.

I want to know how many people really do feel that this election is principally about Brexit and strong leadership; the reasons given by Theresa May for calling it in the first place.

Read full article Keeping on track towards polling day on 8 June

Who'll call the tune in June if the Midlands swings?

  • 25 April 2017
  • From the section England
Dudley castle Image copyright Dudley Council
Image caption Dudley North: Where Labour could be vulnerable

"It ain't got a thing if it ain't got that swing."

That's what the old song says.

Read full article Who'll call the tune in June if the Midlands swings?

Knife-edge battle for West Midlands metro mayor?

West Midlands map Image copyright Getty Images

The first 'metro mayor' of the West Midlands will lead a population of nearly three million people across Coventry, Birmingham and the Black Country.

They will have powers over Economic Development, Education and Skills, Housing and Transport to be downloaded from Central Government and emphatically not uploaded from local authorities.

Read full article Knife-edge battle for West Midlands metro mayor?

Theresa May Triggers An Indefinite Article

  • 29 March 2017
  • From the section England
Theresa May signs the letter which will trigger Article 50, confirming the UK's departure from the EU. Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May signs the letter which will trigger Article 50, confirming the UK's departure from the EU.

Long, long ago in those distant days when I was an undergraduate student of politics, I read a seminal account of Britain's relationship with post-war Europe by the British economist Andrew Shonfield.

"Europe: Journey to An Unknown Destination" was first published in 1972, just one year before the UK joined what was then the Common Market. Shonfield set out why "The Six", as they were known, the founder nations, had embarked on what was to become known as "the European project", and attempted to explore the uncertainties of the journey that lay ahead.

Read full article Theresa May Triggers An Indefinite Article

Brexit, Elections and Revolts. But what about Labour?

  • 23 March 2017
  • From the section England
Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA
Image caption Are the Labour Party working together? Or are they fighting amongst themselves than against the opposition?

In normal times this would be a gift for a Labour opposition.

The Conservatives anxious about Europe yet again, just as Theresa May confirms she will trigger Article 50 next Wednesday, setting Britain on course for two years' of intensive and, for her party, divisive negotiations over the terms of the Britain's exit from the EU.

Read full article Brexit, Elections and Revolts. But what about Labour?

Politics of marriage proposals and divorce petitions

  • 14 March 2017
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images

Divorce talk seems to be catching

So Theresa May now has Parliament's permission to initiate the divorce proceedings that will end end Britain's 44-year marriage to what is now known as the European Union: a 'union" in name only, perhaps, given its fractured politics even before the Brexit vote.

A similar charge could be levelled at the so-called United Kingdom, now that Nicola Sturgeon is also petitioning for divorce.

Read full article Politics of marriage proposals and divorce petitions

A soggy Budget Day mixes metaphors and messages

  • 8 March 2017
  • From the section England
Village Green at Westminster
Image caption The Village Green at Westminster: Torrential rain before the Spring Budget

This was the soggy vision of Westminster's famous village green when I arrived for Philip Hammond's first and last Spring Budget before he switches to Autumn Budgets and Spring Statements.

I should have known the torrential rain would signal what was to follow.

Read full article A soggy Budget Day mixes metaphors and messages

What will it take to unblock "bed blocking"?

  • 1 March 2017
  • From the section England
Surgeon
Image caption The NHS in the West Midlands is about to undergo some radical surgery

Sheer weight of numbers does not always reveal a true picture: (lies, damned lies etc....).

But in the case of the health service, latest figures undoubtedly shine a penetrating, clinical, light on the rate at which budget deficits are currently being racked-up.

Read full article What will it take to unblock "bed blocking"?

UKIP are blown away in Stoke Central by-election

  • 24 February 2017
  • From the section England
Stanley Matthews statue
Image caption Are Stoke Central's voters influenced by NHS issues? Or Brexit?

It's had more unexpected twists and turns than many a roller-coaster ride.

So why shouldn't Stoke Central culminate in an epic weather event. The day of storm Doris blew to smithereens so many of Paul Nuttall's brave words: "Stoke Central is the Brexit Capital".

Read full article UKIP are blown away in Stoke Central by-election

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.

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