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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).

I'm not convinced by poll predicting defeat for Birmingham's mayor referendum

An interesting article in today's Guardian says that two thirds of voters don't want elected mayors. It states: "The prime minister started the week by urging Britain's big cities to 'join the race' by creating a mayoralty through referendums set for 3 May, but a new Guardian/ICM poll suggests that David Cameron could fall at the starting line in these local ballots."

The reference to the Prime Minister follows a speech he delivered in Bristol on Monday, when he said: "I passionately want those cities - from right here in Bristol to Birmingham . . . to give a resounding, emphatic 'yes' next week." The Prime Minister added: "If you want your local champion speaking to the heart of government, banging their fist on the table for Birmingham, or Bristol or Leeds - get out and vote yes."

But I'd take the ICM poll with a small pinch of salt. Looking at the details (see table 10), it appears that a grand total of 308 people in the Midlands - east and west - were asked their opinion about a mayor. It's true that 64 per cent said they didn't want one, but how many of those came from Shrewsbury, Leicester or Stourbridge, and how many came from Birmingham or Coventry - two cities where referendums are taking place - is unclear.

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Sion Simon: I oppose ban on sitting MPs becoming mayors (but they should pay for by-elections)

Labour mayoral hopeful Sion Simon has insisted that sitting MPs Liam Byrne and Gisela Stuart should be allowed to put themselves forward as rival potential candidates - but perhaps they should be asked to pay the costs of any by-election in their constituencies.

The full text of Mr Simon's comments, in an article written by him and published in today's Birmingham Post, is below.

Mr Simon is the former MP for Birmingham Erdington who stood down before the last election to concentrate on his campaign to become Birmingham's first directly-elected mayor. His first hurdle - if the city does vote yes to creating a mayor, in the referendum on May 3 - is to win the Labour nomination against rivals Liam Byrne and Gisela Stuart, who are the sitting MPs for Birmingham Hodge Hill and Birmingham Edgbaston respectively.

The battle appeared to be won when it emerged some senior Labour figures, reportedly including Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, were calling for sitting MPs to be banned from standing as mayors or police commissioners.

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Liam Byrne mayor bid backed by Mandelson, Darling, David Miliband and maybe Ed too

Liam Byrne has won the endorsement of some of Labour's most impressive national figures in his bid to become mayor of Birmingham - as well as fulsome praise from party leader Ed Miliband.

The line up of supporters includes former foreign secretary David Miliband, former chancellor Alistair Darling and Peter Mandelson.

Their backing may help to cement his claim that he has the knowledge and the authority to stand up on a national and international stage and fight for Birmingham, thanks to his experience in government. His last job before the general election was as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the second-in-command behind the Chancellor.

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JCB chair Anthony Bamford enjoys dinner at Number 10 following donations of £450,000

Downing Street has published details of the "private" dinners hosted by the Prime Minister for Conservative Party donors, and it emerges that one of the first people to receive an invitation to Downing Street was Staffordshire businessman Sir Anthony Bamford, chair of JCB.

Sir Anthony and wife Carole, Lady Bamford, were guests at a dinner at 10 Downing Street on July 14 2010, along with 13 other people. His individual donations and donations from JCB come to more than £400,000 in total.

JCB also donated £25,000 to the "no" campaign opposing the alternative vote, and £7,500 to David Davis in 2005, apparently to help fund his party leadership bid (Mr Davis stood unsuccessfully gainst Mr Cameron).

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Yes or no to a mayor? Invitiation to hear the Minister in charge and take part in a debate in Birmingham

Calls for Birmingham to be run by a directly-elected mayor will be debated when senior politicians gather in Birmingham this week.

Greg Clark, the Minister for Cities, will be one of the speakers at a debate on reforming the way Birmingham is governed.

Michael Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, will also be attending, as well as for Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis.

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Vince Cable still wants a mansion tax

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable will continue to push for more property taxes in future budgets, he has said.

Speaking to regional newspapers following the Chancellor's Budget statement, he said he backed the cut in the highest rate of income tax from 50p to 45p because a range of other measures, such as increasing stamp duty on properties worth more than £2 million, means the rich will still pay may more in total (a claim Labour disputes).

But one thing that wasn't in the Budget was a full blown mansion tax of the sort he has been calling for. This would be an annual levy on properties worth more than £2 million, while stamp duty is only paid when a property is bought.

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Dudley workers to be paid less than Birmingham, under George Osborne's local pay (not regional pay) plans

Should a worker in Dudley receive less for doing the same job than one in central Birmingham?

That's the question posed by the Government's plans to introduce local pay across the country.

And it is local pay that George Osborne wants to introduce - not regional.

This weekend's papers were full of speculation that the Chancellor is set to speed up plans to introduce local pay in Wednesday's Budget - only for some of today's papers to report that Lib Dems have convinced him to delay the proposal.

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Headache for Ed Miliband as Labour orders Gisela Stuart to quit the Commons if she becomes mayoral candidate

Birmingham's mayoral contest risks becoming a massive headache for Ed Miliband after Labour's National Executive Committee ruled that any MP selected as a mayoral candidate for the party must stand down from the House of Commons.

It means Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart could be ordered to quit as an MP, if she succeeds in her bid to become Labour's mayoral candidate.

That could mean a by-election in Edgbaston, a seat which Labour held with a majority of just 1,274 in 2010 - to the genuine astonishment of local Tories, who were confident of winning the former Conservative stronghold back.

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Lib Dem MP John Hemming uses spam filter to stop NHS protest emails

It's amazing what you can do with technology nowadays. Blogger Éoin Clarke, who runs an organisation called Labour Left, has set up an automated system allowing voters to send an e-mail to Liberal Democrat MPs protesting against the Government's NHS changes.

The gadget lets you send your protest with the minimum of effort, and even writes the text of the email for you.

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Digby Jones calls for yes to a mayor vote in YouTube plea

Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI, has issued a video plea urging residents to vote "yes" to an elected mayor for Birmingham.

Lord Jones of Birmingham, as he now is, said: "We need someone who doesn't want to climb up the greasy pole of tribalism of Conservative, Labour or Liberal."

He added: "Birmingham has given much to the world but the world has changed. We need someone free from tribal politics who will give a clear decisive message about Birmingham, who will be accountable for Birmingham and who only wants to talk about Birmingham. I urge you to vote yes in the elected mayor referendum on May 3."

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Cap business rates say MPs - another tax battle for the Chancellor

The Government faces a big public row over plans to axe child benefit for higher-rate tax payers, and a second battle over Lib Dem plans for a "mansion tax".

But there's another row which has been slightly less well-publicised, this time over plans to increase business rates by 5.6 per cent in April.

The increase is based on the retail price index for September last year. But some Tory and Lib Dem MPs argue that the 5.6 per cent figure was a "spike" in the RPI, and businesses should not suffer a major tax rise because inflation was high for a short period last year.

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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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