Political Tom and Jerry Show set to run and run

  • 12 August 2015
  • From the section England
Image caption "Suddenly Labour's own Tom and Jerry are no joke"

Animal Instincts

Bringing together a cartoon cat and mouse act during the dog days of August may sound like midsummer madness. It certainly seemed that way when the idea first emerged that Labour's leadership contest might produce a rerun of Tom and Jerry.

The West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, veteran of many a bruising election campaign, quickly became the favourite for the deputy leadership.

But who would have predicted the phenomenon now known as Corbyn-mania? Suddenly Labour's own Tom and Jerry are no joke. YouGov now has Jeremy Corbyn so far ahead of his rivals that its president, Peter Kellner, tells us he is on course to win by a knock-out in the first round.

First round knock-out?

How things have changed in a little over three weeks since I asked the one-time Blairite Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East and shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden how he viewed the prospect of being led by a socialist.

With a dismissive shrug and a smile he told me that it would certainly not help Labour to be re-elected. But with equal certainty he told me a Corbyn victory was simply not going to happen. Some of his fellow West Midlands shadow ministerial colleagues are not smiling now.

Read full article Political Tom and Jerry Show set to run and run

Has Davies an 'eggs in one basket' airports plan?

  • 1 July 2015
  • From the section England
Birmingham Aiport
Image caption At 09:00 each morning, the two giants of American aviation, United and American Airlines, fly from Birmingham across the pond

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

That was the warning with which Birmingham Airport's managers campaigned, shoulder-to-shoulder with their Gatwick counterparts, for an extra runway for the Sussex airport plus, a system of other major airports around Britain.

Read full article Has Davies an 'eggs in one basket' airports plan?

Labour wannabes confront their demons in Nuneaton

  • 16 June 2015
  • From the section England
Nuneaton
Image caption Nuneaton: A 'gritty' town where Warwickshire meets Leicestershire, often only viewed from a Virgin Pendolino as it zips along the West Coast Mainline

The choice of Nuneaton as the venue for the first of Labour's hustings debates with their four candidates for the party leadership is a brave one.

The very name of the place must send a shiver down the collective spine of the party, just as Basildon did in 1992.

Read full article Labour wannabes confront their demons in Nuneaton

Midlands devolution debate: Urban vs Rural rift

  • 3 June 2015
  • From the section England
Chancellor George Osborne
Image caption Chancellor George Osborne was in Birmingham this week to discuss prospects of a Midlands mayor

Let's join the dots between some of the week's breaking news stories:

'Main wealth creator'

Link them all together and you have a powerful reassertion of the view that the great cities are the main drivers of Britain's 21st Century economy.

Read full article Midlands devolution debate: Urban vs Rural rift

A Midlands Powerhouse: But who wants a 'metro mayor'?

  • 26 May 2015
  • From the section England
Greater Birmingham sign
Image caption 'Greater Birmingham' could stretch as far as Coventry and Wolverhampton

All this talk about the "Northern Powerhouse" seems to be concentrating minds wonderfully here in the West Midlands.

The combined authority proposed six months ago by four Black Country councils with Birmingham has now enlisted the influential support of Coventry's ruling Labour group.

Read full article A Midlands Powerhouse: But who wants a 'metro mayor'?

Why Nuneaton was the Basildon of 2015

  • 13 May 2015
  • From the section England
Image caption Conservative Marcus Jones increased his Nuneaton majority by nearly 3,000 and said voters in the Warwickshire town had 'spoken for Britain'

"Wow!"

Of all the countless syllables uttered during the political career of the one-time council leader and newly appointed Local Government Minister Marcus Jones, this will probably go down as the one that will always stand out.

Read full article Why Nuneaton was the Basildon of 2015

Drum beats in Midlands election battle

  • 1 May 2015
  • From the section England
Image caption The debate was held at The Drum arts centre on Wednesday

What do Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise have in common with Sajid Javid, Tristram Hunt, Nigel Farage and Lorely Burt?

And do please resist the temptation to tell me they were or are all clowns!

Read full article Drum beats in Midlands election battle

What happens if pensioners vote but young people don't

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section England
BBC Newsbeat debate
Image caption Young voters joined BBC Newsbeat's debate in Birmingham on Tuesday

The magnificent Great Hall of the University of Birmingham has established itself as one of Britain's great cathedrals dedicated to our political devotions.

In the past five years it has seen a 2010 televised prime ministerial debate, a husting event in the resultant Labour leadership campaign and a well-attended public meeting addressed by their lordships Heseltine and Adonis in support of their so far unavailing campaign for the city to elect its own executive mayor.

Read full article What happens if pensioners vote but young people don't

Why this is a very local general election

  • 17 April 2015
  • From the section England
Presenter Robert McKenzie with the swingometer on election night, 1964.
Image caption Presenter Robert McKenzie with the swingometer on election night, 1964

Only people with long memories have clear recollections of simpler times when Professor Robert McKenzie's swingometer could tell the story of successive general elections.

Our part of the country has long been a two-party affair to a greater extent than anywhere else in the country, so a straightforward device pointing this way and then that was almost invariably quite good enough to do the job.

Read full article Why this is a very local general election

Some highs and lows from the Midlands campaign trail

  • 10 April 2015
  • From the section England
Nigel Farage
Image caption Cake and campaigning for UKIP's Nigel Farage in Dudley North on Tuesday

No question about the most memorable moment of my week. It came during a spectacularly sunny Tuesday in the Black Country

Nigel Farage had arrived paradoxically early in UKIP's target seat of Dudley North after fog had forced the curtailment of earlier planned visits in Staffordshire.

Read full article Some highs and lows from the Midlands campaign trail