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Erdington constituency will be Birmingham's general election battleground

Erdington is where the Conservatives and Labour will concentrate resources in the 2017 general election

Theresa May's advisor Nick Timothy. Photo taken from his Twitter profile.
Theresa May's advisor Nick Timothy.

Birmingham is set to be a major battleground in the June 8 general election .

Theresa May’s Conservatives have a very good chance of winning Birmingham Edgbaston and Birmingham Northfield - seats which they targeted in previous elections without success.

And some Labour figures in the West Midlands privately concede the party is unlikely to hold on to these constituencies.

Instead, Labour is set to concentrate its resources on a third seat which the Tories have a chance of winning, but which Labour also has a real chance of holding on to.

It would mean that Birmingham Erdington becomes the key election battleground in the city.

Labour won Northfield with a majority of 2,509 over the Conservatives in 2015, and won Edgbaston with a majority of 2,706.

But nationally, the Conservatives were less than seven points ahead of Labour in the 2015 general election. They won 36.9 per cent of the national vote, while Labour got 30.4 per cent.

This time around, it seems the gap between the two parties could be much wider. Some polls give the Conservatives a 21 per cent lead (a YouGov survey for the Times found 44 per cent of voters planned to vote Conservative and 23 per cent said they would vote Labour).

Gisela Stuart would be a loss to Labour if she stands down
Gisela Stuart would be a loss to Labour if she stands down

Of course, opinion polls can be wrong. But if they’re remotely correct, and assuming Birmingham more or less follows the same voting patterns as the rest of the country, Edgbaston and Northfield will turn blue.

Conservatives will also receive a boost in Edgbaston if the sitting Labour MP, Gisela Stuart, chooses to retire. She has made no announcement about her future at time of writing, but is thought to be standing down.

Mrs Stuart is a formidable campaigner from the social democratic tradition of the Labour Party, and has proven to be a vote winner in Edgbaston. Holding the seat without her may be an impossible challenge.

Labour’s majority in Birmingham Erdington was a relatively healthy 5,129 in 2015.

That makes it a seat the Conservatives could hope to win - but which Labour could also hope to hold, if it runs a good campaign.

It’s understood that both the Conservatives and the Labour Party see Erdington as the key battleground in the city.

Birmingham Mail Jack Dromey is the sitting MP for Birmingham Erdington
Jack Dromey is the sitting MP for Birmingham Erdington

And Erdington is also where Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s joint chief of staff, grew up.

He’s the Brummie son of a steelworker whose political hero is Joseph Chamberlain.

And his political philosophy has been dubbed “Erdington Conservatism”.

Writing in March 2016 for website Conservative Home, Mr Timothy said the Conservative Party should adopt a model “called Erdington modernisation, named after the working-class area of Birmingham.”

He wrote: “With this approach, of course we would still help the very poor and of course we would fight injustices based on gender, race and sexuality, but the party would adopt a relentless focus on governing in the interests of ordinary, working people.

“They are the people whose lives are most affected – for better and worse – by politics. They can’t choose to send their kids to a private school when the schools around them are terrible.

“They can’t opt out of the NHS if they find themselves in a dirty hospital or at the end of a long waiting list. They are the ones who find themselves out of work, on reduced hours, or with never-ending pay freezes when the economy goes wrong.”

Lipinski/PA Wire Former Downing Street joint chief of staff Nick Timothy.
Downing Street joint chief of staff Nick Timothy

Four months later, Theresa May was Prime Minister. And if you listen to her speeches, it’s clear she’s adopted “Erdington modernisation” as her political philosophy, although she’s never used the phrase herself.

In her speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham in 2016, she dedicated herself to “tackling unfairness and injustice, and shifting the balance of Britain decisively in favour of ordinary working class people”.

The people Mr Timothy described in his article, working hard and trying to find a decent school for their children, are the “just about managing” classes that Mrs May has put at the heart of her programme for government.

And it seems that they live in Erdington.

Conservatives have struggled in Birmingham for a long time. Only one city constituency, Sutton Coldfield, has had a Conservative MP since 1997.

But seats like Northfield, Hall Green, Yardley and Edgbaston have been represented by Conservatives in the not-too-distant past (albeit under different boundaries).

This could be the election that sees a real Conservative revival in Birmingham.

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