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.

Need a clue?

It includes the work of, among others, Delacroix, Ruskin, Sickert and Freud.

None the wiser? Maybe not. But better-informed.....

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

Heathrow? Gatwick? Could Birmingham Airport be the answer?

  • 19 October 2016
  • From the section England
Heathrow Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heathrow? Gatwick? Both? Or will we get a new runway at Birmingham Airport to link-up with the planned HS2 station at Birmingham International.

"Either or", "Both" or "Both and"?

It has to go down as one of the most anguished decisions in recent British politics.

Read full article Heathrow? Gatwick? Could Birmingham Airport be the answer?

It's Erdington vs Islington on new map of politics

  • 11 October 2016
  • From the section England
Erdington Image copyright Google
Image caption Welcome to Erdington - home of 'fed up Britain' and the town which gave two-fingers to the EU

It's funny how often place names help to define our politics. Let's start with the biggest and most notorious of all:

'Iraq' - It came to represent not just the invasion and its aftermath, but also the Blair government's perceived style of 'sofa government', 'dodgy documents' and a 'contempt for Parliament'.

Read full article It's Erdington vs Islington on new map of politics

Midlands questions to the Prime Minister

  • 28 September 2016
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 'The newspapers shout a new style is growing, but it don't know if it's coming or going' sang Dame Shirley

In the words of that wonderful old song by Shirley Bassey:

"It's all just a little bit of history repeating....."

Read full article Midlands questions to the Prime Minister

Another week, another party leadership election result

  • 21 September 2016
  • From the section England
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Diane James told the Prime Minister: 'We're the opposition-in-waiting now."

"It's so hard to keep up with all these leadership elections, isn't it?"

Not exactly the most profound observation I've ever come up with, but it did seem the most appropriate way of filling the final couple of seconds before the 'hand back' to Andrew Neil at the end of the Midlands part of last weekend's Sunday Politics on BBC One.

Read full article Another week, another party leadership election result

High-profile candidates lining up for Midlands mayor

  • 14 September 2016
  • From the section England
Andy Street Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Becoming the Conservative candidate would mean Andy Street having to step down from one of the biggest jobs in British retailing to embark on a political campaign

Suddenly my email inbox was working overtime.

First came a brief, Delphic, statement from the Conservative Party.

Read full article High-profile candidates lining up for Midlands mayor