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I am an experienced online journalist and political editor working for Trinity Mirror papers in the West Midlands and the North East, based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Westminster.

I understand how government, Parliament and political parties work. I am equally at home digging out stories from data, social media or interviews as I am covering major set-piece events or explaining how things work to readers.

I produce content which is shareable and promote my work on social media.

My experience with content management systems and knowledge of HTML allows me to include charts, embedded content from third parties and formatting in my work, to create content which encourages interaction and keeps readers on the page.

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (but please send press releases to my work email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as this is the email I monitor during working hours).

Is V for Vendetta a good role model for today's young radicals?

V for Vendetta isn't quite the role model for today's radicals that he's often taken to be.

Anyone who follows politics is likely to come across the iconic "V" mask before long.

People wear it to demos protesting against Government spending cuts or against high street shopping chains accused of failing to pay their fair share of tax.

It turns up on the internet, where activists adopt it as a logo or an image to represent them, sometimes known as an avatar.

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Remembering Brian Haw

Interviewing Brian Haw wasn't easy. The first time I tried, he happily answered my questions - but only over his megaphone, so that everyone in the House of Commons could hear what he had to say.

When he was willing talk normally, he was a softly-spoken and gentle figure who set out his argument in the most reasonable manner.

Although he clearly knew a lot about world events, he wasn't interested in discussing politics. He simply wanted Britain and its allies to "stop killing our kids", as he put it - the word "our" reflecting his belief that a child in Iraq or Afghanistan is as much our responsibility as a child in Perry Barr.

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Mark Pritchard's speech: they offered me a job, they threatened me

Shropshire MP Mark Pritchard (Con The Wrekin) has revealed that he was offered a job if he gave up his attempt to force the Government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

When that failed, they threatened him instead.

But he insisted he would not be "bullied", telling MPs: ""I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gives me a backbone, it gives me a thick skin."

Here's some film of his speech, complete with pantomime gasps from the MPs around him:

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Secrecy surrounds Black Country enterprise zone bid

A bizarre level of secrecy surrounds the Black Country's Enterprise Zone bid.

Although some details have emerged - the Government is actually being asked to approve the creation of five smallish zones across the Black Country, apparently - officially it's all being kept under wraps.

The secrecy is in stark contrast to the approach taken by other parts of the region, which have been quite happy to talk about the proposals. Birmingham's plans were published last month.

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India can teach us about multiculturalism, says MP

David Cameron's speech in February on radicalisation and Islamist extremism was controversial partly because of his criticism of multiculuralism.

He stated (in the only direct reference to multiculturalism): "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream.

"We've failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We've even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values."

The Prime Minister has now received backing from Wolverhampton MP Paul Uppal (Con Wolverhampton South West) who suggests the UK could learn a thing or two about national identity from India, which counts people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and religions among its population.

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Midlanders urged to fight posh southern lawyers in battle for high speed rail

The struggling North and Midlands take on the selfish South in a new video produced by the Campaign for High Speed Rail.

It follows the publication of class-warfare posters, which I've mentioned before. These feature a bowler-hatted southern toff trying to block plans for a new rail line which will create jobs in the rest of the country, with the catchline "Their lawns or our jobs?"

Posh man

The video continues in a similar theme, as it suggests opponents of high speed rail services from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester want the cash to be spent on roads instead - "mostly in the south".

The voiceover warns: "In the Chilterns, hedge fund farmers and taxpayer-funded councils have built up a million-pound war chest to spend on lawyers and PR types, to scupper these plans whatever it takes.

"Plans that will help businesses outside London compete in a global economy . . . that will spread the wealth more fairly."

Here's the film:

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High speed rail campaign takes on southern city gents

Jobs in the Midlands are more important than gardens in Buckinghamshire - that's the message of a new publicity campaign attacking wealthy southerners who want to stop a planned high speed rail line from London to Birmingham and the North from going ahead.

An advertising campaign will suggest residents in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire are threatening to block the line, to ensure they don't have to look at a train in the distance as they sit in their gardens - even though it could bring thousands of jobs to Birmingham and the North.

Edit - I now have a copy of one of the adverts, albeit one desined to go up in Manchester rather than Birmingham, which you can see here:

The aim is to foster a sense that the North and the Midlands are fighting back and sticking up for their own interests, after transport cash was poured into London and the south east in recent years.

London will enjoy the benefits of the £15 billion new Crossrail line, currently being built, and the £5.5 billion Thameslink programme.


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In her own words: Sandwell's Lib Dem Mayor explains why she is defecting to Labour

I've spoken to Joyce Underhill, the mayor of Sandwell who has announced she is leaving the Liberal Democrats after 23 years and defecting to Labour.

Coun Underhill, who represents the ward of Newton and has been a councillor for 22 years, said David Cameron's comments in the House of Commons yesterday over cuts to benefits for some recovering cancer patients were "the straw that broke the camel's back".

She said: "It was a complete lack of compassion regarding the financial situation of cancer patients.
"Although he had received evidence from Macmillan Cancer about the effect, he just completely dismissed it.

"My husband [fellow councillor Tony Underhill, who is also defecting] has prostate cancer.

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Sandwell's Lib Dem Mayor defects to Labour in protest at cancer patients benefit cut

The Liberal Democrat Mayor of Sandwell has quit the party - and crossed the floor to Labour, in protest at David Cameron's comments about benefits for cancer patients in the House of Commons yesterday.

Lib Dem Councillor Joyce Underhill (Newton) and her husband Councillor Tony Underhill (Newton) who has himself got cancer, have resigned from the Liberal Democrats and join the Labour Party.

Joyce Underhill said: "We have been increasingly disillusioned with the Lib Dems since Nick Clegg went into coalition with the Conservatives.

"We have seen how police cuts here in the West Midlands have been particularly severe and undermine safety.

"But we felt a line was crossed when David Cameron seemed to have no idea of the impact of his own policies on cancer sufferers when he was speaking in the House of Commons yesterday. I could not believe the Prime Minister was so dismissive of an issue of this much importance."

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Birmingham council's complaints about academies raise an important point say ministers

There was some surprise when the Conservative head of Birmingham education authority, the largest LEA in the country, branded elements of the Government's academy programme "immoral".

But a Government Minister has now admitted he may have a point.

Les Lawrence, Birmingham's Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, complained that schools were restructuring their workforce - in some cases making staff redundant - and forcing the council to pick up the bill, before making the switch to academy

As we reported earlier this month, he told a meeting of Birmingham Schools Forum: "This is immoral".

But Schools Minister Nick Gibb has revealed the Government has been talking to Coun Lawrence about the problem, and admitted he raises "an important point".

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About me

Jonathan Walker Political Editor of the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Sunday Mercury, Coventry Telegraph, Newcastle Journal, Newcastle Chronicle and Sunday Sun.

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