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Dudley General Election preview: Tories favourites to fill Ian Austin sized hole

Dudley | General Election 2019 | Published: | Last Updated:

We preview the seats up for grab in the Dudley borough at the General Election, including Dudley North, Dudley South and Stourbridge.

Conservative MPs Mike Wood, left, and James Morris, right, are standing again in the Dudley borough

Dudley is set to be a key battleground at this election, with the Tories hoping to turn the whole borough blue.

The party currently hold three of the four seats in the borough and has a genuine chance of completing the quartet with victory in Dudley North.

If this election is anything like 2017, then one of the most exciting constituencies to follow will be Dudley North where Ian Austin won by 22 votes after two recounts.

He's since quit the Labour Party, quit as an MP and urged people to vote Conservative.

Stourbridge will also be getting a new MP after Margot James stood down, while Tories Mike Wood and James Morris will be hoping to extend their majorities in Dudley South and Halesowen and Rowley Regis respectively.

Jeremy Corbyn with Labour's Dudley South candidate Lucy Caldicott, left, and Dudley North candidate Melanie Dudley, right

Dudley North

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One of the most marginal seats in the country, Dudley North was right at the top the Tories ‘wants list’ when the general election was called.

And the events of the campaign so far will have only strengthened the belief in Conservative HQ that the constituency can turn blue for the first time since it was formed in 1997.

(PA Graphics)

Who are the Dudley North election candidates?

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  • Melanie Dudley, Labour*
  • Marco Longhi, Conservative
  • Mike Harrison, Green
  • Ian Flynn, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 Dudley North election result?

  • Ian Austin, Labour - 18,090
  • Les Jones, Conservative - 18,068
  • Bill Etheridge, UKIP 2,144
  • Ben France, Lib Dem - 368
  • Andrew Nixon, Green - 240
  • Turnout - 61 per cent

What are the odds? (From Betfair at time of writing)

  • Conservatives 1/16, Labour 7/1, Liberal Democrats 125/1, Green 200/1

Firstly, Ian Austin stood down and endorsed the Tories, urging people to vote for Boris Johnson as the only way to stop “dangerous” Jeremy Corbyn from becoming PM.

Then Brexit Party candidate Rupert Lowe withdrew his nomination papers at the last minute and also gave his support to the Conservatives, infuriating Nigel Farage in the process.

Ian Austin, left, stood down from Dudley North after criticising Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Austin, who quit Labour earlier this year citing Mr Corbyn’s “appalling” record on anti-Semitism, held the seat by just 22 votes in 2017, in a result that was finally declared at around 6.30am after two recounts.

This year Labour has selected Melanie Dudley, who beat off the challenge of three other candidates including a Bristol councillor who appeared to think Dudley was in Birmingham.

She was born in Kates Hill and lives in Sutton Coldfield. She was an assistant chief executive at Sandwell Council until 2016, when she left the post saying she had been a victim of of bullying.

Labour candidate Melanie Dudley used to work for Sandwell Council

Like a number of Labour candidates at the election, Ms Dudley insists that Brexit has not been a major topic of conversation on the doorstep, a claim that has raised a few eyebrows in a constituency where seven in 10 people voted to leave the EU.

Ms Dudley is adamant she will not be giving up the seat without a fight, and hosted a visit from Mr Corbyn last week when he visited Upper Gornal Pensioners Club following the launch of Labour’s manifesto in Birmingham.

For the Tories, Walsall councillor Marco Longhi has been selected. A Brexiteer who campaigned for Leave in the EU referendum, he believes his party’s “get Brexit done” message is resonating on the doorstep, with life-long Labour voters telling him they are backing the Tories this time around.

Marco Longhi is the bookmakers' favourite to win Dudley North for the Tories

The former Walsall mayor is embarking on his second bid for Parliament having lost out in Dudley South in 2005.

Both of the main parties’ candidates have been keen to push local issues on the campaign trail, including parking at Russells Hall Hospital, anti-social behaviour and school funding.

More coverage of Dudley North:

The other candidate for the seat is Mike Harrison for the Greens, and Lib Dem Ian Flynn, who is campaigning for an increase to police budgets.

The seat covers the northern part of the borough of Dudley, covering the town centre and areas including Priory, Upper and Lower Gornal, Sedgley and Woodsetton.

Stourbridge

Stourbridge will certainly be getting a new MP following the departure of Margot James.

She has decided not to contest the forthcoming election despite being welcomed back into the fold by Boris Johnson, having previously been booted out by the PM for rebelling over Brexit.

Former Tory minister Margot James has stood down as the MP for Stourbridge

The former minister withdrew from the race before a vote of local party members to decide who would contest the seat for the Conservatives.

Tellingly, she said Brexit now “so dominates politics that it has become the lens through which every Conservative candidate’s credentials are judged”.

Who are the Stourbridge election candidates?

  • Suzanne Webb, Conservative*
  • Andi Mohr, Green
  • Aaron Hudson, Independent
  • Pete Lowe, Labour
  • Chris Bramall, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 Stourbridge election result?

  • Margot James, Conservative - 25,706
  • Pete Lowe, Labour - 18,052
  • Glen Wilson, UKIP - 1,801
  • Chris Bramall Lib Dem - 1,083
  • Andi Mohr, Green - 493
  • Turnout: 67.22 per cent

What are the odds? (From Betfair at time of writing)

  • Conservatives 1/10, Labour 5/1, Liberal Democrats 66/1, Green 100/1

Hoping to replace Ms James as MP for Stourbridge is Tory candidate Suzanne Webb, a Birmingham councillor who describes herself as a “proud Brexiteer”, despite admitting she voted Remain.

Mrs Webb said she intends to be a “local champion” who campaigns on issues such as saving the green belt, travellers’ sites and the regeneration of Lye.

Suzanne Webb, centre, is the new Conservative candidate for Stourbridge

Former Dudley Council leader Pete Lowe is returning for his third tilt at the seat for Labour.

It has been a busy time for Councillor Lowe, who is also in the running to be Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor.

Union supporter Mr Lowe has been a vocal critic of the Tory Government’s austerity measures and cuts to local authority budgets.

Former Dudley Council leader Pete Lowe is running to be an MP for the third time

The Stourbridge seat was held by Labour during the Blair and Brown years but has been won fairly comfortably by the Tories over the last decade.

Ms James achieved a majority of more than 7,000 in 2017, when Mr Lowe took 38 per cent of the vote.

More Stourbridge coverage:

Former Brexit Party candidate Aaron Hudson is standing as an independent on a ‘clean break’ Brexit ticket after Nigel Farage decided not to stand candidates in Tory-held seats.

Chris Bramall is returning to stand for the Lib Dems while Andi Mohr is representing the Greens.

Dudley South

Who are the Dudley South election candidates?

  • Mike Wood, Conservative*
  • Cate Mohr, Green
  • Lucy Caldicott, Labour
  • Jonathan Bramall, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 Dudley South election result?

  • Mike Wood, Conservative - 21,588
  • Natasha Millward, Labour - 13,858
  • Mitchell Bolton, UKIP - 1,791
  • Jonathan Bramall, Liberal Democrat - 625
  • Jenny Maxwell, Green - 382
  • Turnout - 62 per cent

What are the odds? (From Betfair at time of writing)

  • Conservatives 1/100, Labour 14/1, Liberal Democrat 150/1, Green 200/1

The Conservatives have increased their dominance in Dudley South at each election since winning the seat in 2010.

Mike Wood currently holds the seat with a majority of 7,730, and the pro-Brexit candidate will be confident of extending his stay in Parliament in a pro-Brexit constituency.

Mike Wood, right, on the campaign trail with party chairman James Cleverley
Lucy Caldicott is standing for Labour in Dudley South

Labour’s candidate this time around is staunch Remainer Lucy Caldicott, who has been parachuted in from London where she is a councillor.

Other candidates include Jonathan Bramall for the Lib Dems, who lost his deposit when contesting the seat in 2017, and Cate Mohr for the Greens.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis

Who are the Halesowen and Rowley Regis election candidates?

  • James Morris, Conservative*
  • John Cross, Independent
  • Ian Fleming, Independent
  • Tim Weller, Independent
  • James Windridge, Green
  • Ian Cooper, Labour
  • Ryan Priest, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 Halesowen and Rowley Regis election result?

  • James Morris, Conservative - 23,012
  • Ian Cooper, Labour - 17,759
  • Stuart Henley, UKIP - 2,126
  • Jamie Scott, Liberal Democrat - 859
  • James Robertson, Green Party - 440
  • Tim Weller, Independent - 183
  • Turnout - 64.5 per cent

What are the odds? (From Betfair at time of writing)

  • Conservatives 1/33, Labour 9/1, Liberal Democrats 100/1, Green 150/1

Over in Halesowen and Rowley Regis, Tory James Morris is bidding for re-election again having first won the seat from Labour in 2010.

His current majority is 5,253 in a seat that straddles the borders of Dudley and Sandwell.

James Morris is hoping to hold his Halesowen and Rowley Regis seat

Ian Cooper is returning for a second crack at the seat for Labour.

The former Dudley councillor is calling for a second referendum on Brexit.

Other candidates are John Cross, who is standing on an independent pro-Brexit ticket after the Brexit Party pulled his candidacy.

He joins Lib Dem Ryan Priest, and Tim Weller, a campaigner on transport and environmental issues.

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