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

Scottish referendum will test regions south of border

27 August 2014
Money generic
Will "the canny Scots" vote with their wallets?

It has been in place for over 300 years but it turns out the Act of Union between England and Scotland is a much looser affair than many of us had thought.

For once, the legalistic title is unexpectedly accurate: it is an act of union jointly engaged-in by two willing partners.

But what happens when one of those partners no longer consents? That could well be the outcome of the Scottish Independence Referendum on 18 September.

At the risk of over-simplification, it goes a long way towards explaining why the greatest constitutional question to face the UK for many centuries will be decided by the say-so of Scotland alone, while we in the rest of the UK have no say at all.

It takes two to tango but just one to turn off the music.

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

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.

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A local take on the growth agenda

Whitehall
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.

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New local government chief Sparks debate on budget cuts

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".

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Patrick added analysis to:

West Midlands PCC Bob Jones dies aged 59

"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.

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Library campaigners throw the book at local councils

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.

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Coventry shows dangers of mixing sport and politics

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.

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Trojan Horse: What have we learnt?

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.

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

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.

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Midlands councils point towards the general election

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.

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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.

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