Patrick Burns, Political editor, Midlands

Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

This is my take on politics in the Midlands - a region of five and a half million people with a diverse, exciting political landscape

Will PCC poll be a by-election or a referendum?

31 July 2014
Voter apathy
Will people go to the polls to choose a new police and crime commissioner in August?

If you want to demonstrate just how low turnouts in public elections are capable of plummeting, you could do no better than to plan a poll to choose a police and crime commissioner (PCC) during the dog days of summer: Thursday 21 August to be precise.

Especially in the West Midlands where the numbers in the original PCC elections in November 2012 were the second lowest anywhere in England and Wales. Just 12%of the two million people eligible to vote in the police force area actually did so. In some areas only one person in 20 took the trouble.

Following the untimely death in July of the region's first PCC, former Wolverhampton Labour Councillor Bob Jones, this is bound to be seen not just as a by-election to replace him but also as a referendum on the role itself.

He certainly disapproved of the job despite his obvious determination to make the best of it. And, following a party commission of inquiry, an incoming Labour government would be expected to scrap PCCs altogether.

Bob Jones
Bob Jones, who died in July, was the West Midlands PCC despite disapproving of the government-created role.

But the original "Big Idea" set out by ministers when they first proposed PCCs was to establish a high-profile heavy-hitter in each force area as a focal point to make policing more directly accountable to the public.

David Jamieson, Les Jones, Keith Rowe, Ayoub Khan
David Jamieson, Labour; Les Jones, Conservative; Keith Rowe, UKIP; Ayoub Khan, Liberal Democrats

Read full article

A local take on the growth agenda

8 July 2014
Should decisions about the West Midlands economy be made here or at Whitehall?

"This is the end of the Whitehall-knows-best culture": David Cameron

When the prime minister came to Halesowen College to unveil his government's growth fund, this was his answer to my question about the real significance of these latest deals.

Read full article

New local government chief Sparks debate on budget cuts

1 July 2014
Statue of Confucius in Beijing
Could Confucius steer the Local Government Association through troubled waters?

"May you live in interesting times" - Confucius?

Commonly known as the "Chinese curse" it is assumed the great man was using "interesting" as a euphemism for "chaotic" or even "disastrous".

Read full article

Patrick added analysis to:

West Midlands PCC Bob Jones dies aged 59

1 July 2014

"The untimely death at the age of 59 of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, has brought about the first departure from office of any of the commissioners who were elected in November 2012.

The government's big idea in triggering PCC elections was to replace the old police authorities (considered by ministers to be invisible and ineffective) with high-profile figures, who would be directly accountable to local communities.

Read full article

Library campaigners throw the book at local councils

25 June 2014
Dordon Library
Dordon Library has been kept open thanks to volunteers

They have triggered intense storms of protest and even, in the case of Gloucestershire, been declared unlawful in the High Court.

The Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee reported some had been implemented with insufficient regard for the needs of local communities.

Read full article

Coventry shows dangers of mixing sport and politics

17 June 2014
Supporters at a match in February this year
Why oh why? Supporters at a match in February this year

For proof if ever you needed it of just how toxic mixing sport with politics can be, come to Coventry.

As World Cup fever grips the land, anyone arriving in the city could be forgiven for thinking it's the most football crazy place on Earth.

Read full article

Trojan Horse: What have we learnt?

11 June 2014
Schools involved in the latest Ofsted reports
Some members of the Islamic community believe the 'Trojan Horse' allegations are a hoax....

"What on earth is going on in Birmingham?" asked one of my BBC Westminster colleagues on my first visit to SW1 after the Whit Recess.

I suggested Birmingham, one of the most diverse and youngest cities in Europe, "the Britain of tomorrow", may simply be experiencing the leading edge of an issue which is not unique to this city and could well be played out elsewhere.

Read full article

How will UKIP's sums add up in the Midlands?

3 June 2014
UKIP candidates
UKIP saw considerable success in the West Midlands after winning 428,010 votes

As Parliament returns after a Whit Recess consumed by pre, post and future-election fever, what are we in the Midlands to make of UKIP's showing in polls which produced no changes of party control whatsoever in any of our 18 local authorities?

Having promised "a political earthquake", Nigel Farage finds the surface landscape of local government in this region remains undisturbed.

Read full article

Midlands councils point towards the general election

16 May 2014
A ballot box
It's all taking place on 22 May

Why, when and where?

Q: Why aren't we having our local elections as usual on the first Thursday in May?

A: It's hoped that by synchronising them with the European Elections, money will be saved and turnouts raised.

Read full article

Seventh Heaven for West Midlands Euro election hopefuls

1 May 2014
European Parliament, Strasbourg

The World's Favourite Number?

And the winner is... cue the drum roll please... the number seven.

Read full article

More Correspondents

  • John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

    Political musings from the East Midlands to Westminster

  • Paul Barltrop, Political editor, West of England Paul Barltrop Political editor, West of England

    Thoughts and analysis on politics in the West of England

  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick

About Patrick

First experience of Parliament as a young BBC journalist was a session of PMQ's when Harold Wilson was being interrogated by Margaret Thatcher.

Reported on The Troubles in Northern Ireland for four years including the worst-ever IRA attack on the army at Warrenpoint.

First became a Lobby journalist at Westminster as part of a team of correspondents which included such legendary figures as John Cole and John Sergeant.

He has been on the "inside track" at Westminster from the "high water" mark of the Thatcher period, through the Blair/Brown era to the unfolding drama of the Cameron/Clegg coalition.

Patrick grew up in Birmingham and went to university in Manchester. He has lived in Birmingham for 25 years.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.