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Conservative hat-trick forecast in Birmingham at General Election

Conservative hat-trick forecast in Birmingham at General Election

🕔29.Apr 2017

Iain Dale, the LBC broadcaster, blogger, publisher and former Conservative politician, is predicting that three Birmingham seats will switch from Labour to Conservative at the General Election on 8th June.

The reigns of Richard Burden and Jack Dromey, as well as Gisela Stuart, would appear to be days from ending. It also looks like the latest generation of two Birmingham political dynasties could find their way to the Commons green benches.

With Gisela Stuart stepping down in Edgbaston, it is widely anticipated that the seat will switch back to the Conservative Party. Ms Stuart’s gain was the beginning of the story of the 1997 landslide for Tony Blair’s New Labour, signalling the start of an incredible night/morning for the party which had been out of power for 18 years.

Labour Sandwell councillor Preet Gill will contest the seat and, it is reported, will be up against Caroline Squire for the Tories. Cllr Gill is originally from Edgbaston and now serves as Cabinet Member for Public Health and Protection in the neighbouring borough.

Ms Squire describes herself as a “Communications professional” on her Twitter profile, which is currently locked (at the time of writing). She is the great, great grand-daughter of some chap called….Joseph Chamberlain. This blog site, which carries the great man’s name, detects the hand of the Prime Minister’s Joint Chief of Staff, manifesto writer and Chamberlain aficionado Nick Timothy.

Labour had a majority of 2,706 in 2015 which looks highly susceptible given the political landscape two years on.

In 2015, the Conservatives made Birmingham Northfield one of its target seats with Rachel Maclean running a spirited fight. She is now co-chair of Andy Street’s Mayoral campaign. Chamberlain Files understands that Meg Powell-Chandler, a former Special Adviser to Business Secretary Greg Clark and now a Policy and Public Affairs Consultant at homeless charity Crisis, has been selected to contest the seat.

Richard Burden, who took Northfield in 1992 and is currently Labour’s Shadow Aviation Minister, describes himself as the “independent-minded and trusted MP for Northfield” on his website. His statement of appeal for support at the General Election does not mention Jeremy Corbyn. Nearly 62% voted to Leave the EU in the constituency.

Chamberlain Files understands that Jack Dromey would have us believe that he is not under threat in Birmingham Erdington. Mr Harriet Harman, a former senior trade union official, has been MP for the constituency since 2010, taking over from Siôn Simon who left Parliament to campaign for Mayor (yes, seven years ago…maybe just a few more days to go). He serves as Shadow Minister for Labour on Jeremy Corbyn’s Frontbench.

Mr Dromey will be up against the leader of the Conservative Group in Birmingham, Cllr Robert (Bobby) Alden. Cllr Alden said:

It is a huge honour to have been selected to stand in the Erdington and Kingstanding area. This area is my home. My family and I live near Erdington High Street so I know the issues we face locally, I use the same services as other residents. Having the chance to represent Erdington and Kingstanding would be a huge honour.

I am proud of our area and have spent 12 years fighting to help make it even better. If I am elected to Parliament this will enable me to take our campaign to Westminster. I will be Erdington’s MP in Westminster, unlike currently where we have Jeremy Corbyn’s London MP representing Erdington.

Cllr Robert Alden is recognised as a highly effective campaigner who knows and works his ward. He is the son of John and Deidre Alden, also both Conservative councillors. Before being elected to Birmingham city council, he worked at Aston Villa Football Club in the catering department.

Mr Dromey is defending a majority of just over 5,000 – the line under which many commentators believe sitting Labour MPs will be at severe risk. But with a Leave vote of 58.5% in the EU Referendum, 6,000 UKIP votes potentially available to a candidate from a now Brexit supporting Conservative Party and Cllr Alden’s recognition and campaigning record in the area, the former Labour Party Treasurer will be nervously awaiting the count.

It is not all bad news for Labour MPs in the city. Outspoken Yardley MP Jess Phillips seems to be safer, even though her Lib Dem predecessor and millionaire John Hemming is looking to regain the seat. Whilst the former Deputy Leader of Birmingham city council will seek to capitalise on his past record in the area, it seems unlikely that a constituency that voted by nearly 61% to Leave the EU will vote for a very pro-EU Single Market party.

Chamberlain Files understands that Labour is piling in significant resources to defend Jess Phillips and Jack Dromey, but it would seem that it has accepted that Edgbaston and Northfield will be lost in the snap Brexit election of 2017.

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