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02/06/2017

Will the battle for No.10 be decided in the West Midlands?

Written by Matthew Bacon

With the General Election only 6 days away we have taken a look at the West Midlands – a key, traditionally marginal region comprising a multitude of seats that can be influential in deciding which party runs the country.

The Conservatives are aiming to gain ground in the traditional Labour stronghold of Birmingham, while Labour will be aiming to retain all its West Midlands seats and gain ground in seats it failed to take in 2015.

In recent months, there has been a clear sign that the West Midlands region as a whole is trending towards the Conservatives with Andy Street achieving a significant victory in the Metro Mayor election.                                                     

Birmingham Edgbaston

Incumbent MP: Gisela Stuart (Lab) standing down.

                           Labour Candidate - Preet Gill

Majority: 2,706

Candidates: Preet Gill, Labour; Colin Green, Liberal Democrat; Alice Kiff, Green; Dick Rodgers, Common Good; Caroline Squire, Conservative.

Constituency Summary: Edgbaston is a two-horse race between Conservative Caroline Squire and Labour's Preet Gill. Leading Brexiteer Gisela Stuart had been the MP here since 1997 and enjoyed a substantial personal vote. Ms Gill will have to work hard to transfer that support to her benefit and faces the significant challenge of preventing the Conservatives from hoovering up much of the UKIP votes.

Planning issues: Mrs Squire has focused on the issue of local infrastructure and improving congestion, stating the Conservatives are planning to spend £2 million renovating Snow Hill Station whilst Mrs Gill has stated Labour will focus on building council houses.

Remarkable Prediction: Caroline Squire Elected. We’d expect Birmingham Edgbaston to narrowly turn Blue, with Gisela Stuart standing down and UKIP not providing a candidate. We expect Birmingham Edgbaston to vote the same way as it did in the Metro Mayor election and elect a Conservative MP for the first time since 1997.

Birmingham Northfield

Incumbent MP: Richard Burden MP (Lab)

Majority: 2,509

Candidates: Richard Burden, Labour; Roger Harmer, Liberal Democrat; Eleanor Masters, Green; Meg Powell-Chandler, Conservative.

Constituency Summary: The Conservatives are heavily targeting Birmingham Northfield and have a sizable UKIP vote to squeeze. However, in the 2016 local elections, Labour won the constituency by 4 percentage points making for an interesting contest.

Planning issues: Both Meg Powell Chandler (Con) and Richard Burden (Lab) have stated that the former MG Rover site at Longbridge would be a suitable location for Channel 4 to move to with Mr Burden writing to Metro Mayor Andy Street on the issue.

Remarkable Prediction: Meg Powell-Chandler elected. We expect Birmingham Northfield to turn Blue due to a lack of spilt in the right of centre vote.

Nuneaton

Incumbent MP: Marcus Jones MP (Con)

Majority: 4,882

Candidates: Richard Brighton-Knight, Liberal Democrat; Chris Brookes, Green; Craig Carpenter, UKIP; Phil Johnson, Labour; Marcus Jones; Conservative.

Constituency Summary: Regarded as a bell weather seat between Labour and the Conservatives, Nuneaton was the first marginal constituency to declare in 2015, with Marcus Jones unexpectedly increasing his majority. Nuneaton and Bedworth Council is currently under Labour control but did lose two seats to the Conservatives in 2016. Like Birmingham Northfield, the Conservatives will be looking to pick up some of the votes which went to UKIP in 2015.

Planning issues: As a Minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government Mr Jones has been outspoken against over regulating the private sector claiming that local authorities have a large amount of power already.

Remarkable Prediction: Marcus Jones elected. A comfortable Conservative hold.

Walsall North

Incumbent MP: David Winnick MP (Lab)

Majority: 1,937

Candidates: Liz Hazell, UKIP; Eddie Hughes, Conservative; Isabelle Parasram, Liberal Democrat; David Winnick, Labour.

Constituency Summary: Walsall North has been held by veteran Labour MP David Winnick since 1979, but is now having to defend a narrower majority compared to before. The Conservatives have selected Walsall Councillor Eddie Hughes to stand for them and are targeting the seat heavily. The bookmakers have the Conservatives 1/5 favourite to gain the constituency.

Planning Issues: Mr Winnick has been a long-term advocate of building additional council housing and has recently been focused on the Stonegate Housing Development, which was built on contaminated land at Short Heath, whilst Conservative candidate Mr Hughes is the Chairman of the Walsall Housing Group, a housing association.

Remarkable Prediction: Conservative Gain

If you are interested in finding out more about the impact of the General Election results in key constituencies in the Midlands, or the policy priorities of candidates or the newly elected MPs, please get in touch with George Beard or Will Morgan in Remarkable’s Western office, on bristol@remarkablegroup.co.uk or 0117 247 0155.

General election