Sandwell General Election preview: All change in West Bromwich as stalwarts stand down

We preview the three Sandwell-only seats up for grabs at the 2019 General Election: West Bromwich East, West Bromwich West and Warley.

Adrian Bailey, John Spellar, and Tom Watson, celebrate their reelection back in 2005. Only John Spellar is contesting the 2019 election
Adrian Bailey, John Spellar, and Tom Watson, celebrate their reelection back in 2005. Only John Spellar is contesting the 2019 election

All three of the seats were won by Labour with comfortable majorities in 2017 but two out of three MPs have stood down, leaving a large West Bromwich-sized hole to be filled.

Tom Watson has left West Bromwich East after 18 years, while Adrian Bailey is not contesting the West Bromwich West seat he won in 2000.

And the Conservatives have sensed a chance to move into what is a traditional Labour stronghold, with the bookies even putting the Tories as favourites in West Bromwich West.

However in Warley, anything other than a Labour win seems implausible after John Spellar romped home with a majority of 16,483 two years ago.

Tom Watson surprised people in West Bromwich with his decision to stand down

West Bromwich East: First new MP since 2001

The Labour-held seat of West Bromwich East has already seen its fair share of drama in this election campaign.

Tom Watson set the ball rolling earlier this month, the Labour deputy leader’s announcement that he was stepping down after 18 years as the constituency MP sending shockwaves through the political establishment.

Mr Watson insists his decision was “personal not political”, but there is no escaping the rift that developed at the top of the party due to his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism and Brexit.

Who are the West Bromwich East election candidates?

  • Ibrahim Dogus, Labour*

  • Christian Lucas, Brexit

  • Nicola Richards, Conservative

  • Mark Redding, Green

  • George Galloway, Independent

  • Andy Graham, Liberal Democrat

  • Colin Rankine, Yeshua

What was the 2017 West Bromwich East election result?

  • Tom Watson, Labour - 22,664

  • Emma Crane, Conservative - 14,951

  • Karen Trench, Liberal Democrat - 625

  • John Macefield, Green - 533

  • Colin Rankine, Independent - 325

  • Spoilt papers - 138

  • Turnout - 61.45% (39,236 out of electorate of 63,846)

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

  • Labour 8/11, Conservatives 5/6, George Galloway 8/1, Liberal Democrats 50/1

Labour’s replacement to defend a 7,713 majority from 2017 is Ibrahim Dogus, who has been parachuted in from London after failing in bids for candidacy in two other seats.

Mr Dogus is the mayor of Lambeth and runs kebab restaurants in London.

Ibrahim Dogus, the mayor of Lambeth, was brought in by Labour to replace Tom Watson

He has already been embroiled in controversy after it emerged he was part in a tax evasion probe in 2011, in a case that resulting in him being forced by a court to hand over £11,500.

While West Bromwich East has always been held by Labour, avid Remainer Mr Dogus faces a triple assault from pro-Brexit candidates in a seat where 68 Per cent of people voted to Leave the EU.

Former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway raised a few eyebrows back in July when he announced he was standing as an independent.

George Galloway is standing as an independent pro-Brexit candidate in West Bromwich East

At that time, the committed Eurosceptic said he was intent on ousting Tom Watson, who he accused of hampering Mr Corbyn’s rise to power and attempting to stop Brexit.

Despite Mr Watson now being out of the picture Mr Galloway is continuing his campaign, saying he wants to “fight corruption” in Sandwell Council and stop Labour’s anti-Brexit candidate from winning.

More coverage of West Bromwich East:

A controversial figure who was sacked by TalkRadio for an allegedly “anti-Semitic” tweet, Mr Galloway has been a regular fixture in West Bromwich in recent months.

The Tories came close to winning West Bromwich East twice in the 1980s, losing by just 298 votes in 1982 – the last time Labour unveiled a radical hard-left manifesto similar to the one that Mr Corbyn has produced this year.

That will give heart to Conservative candidate Nicola Richards, a Dudley councillor and campaigner against anti-Semitism.

Nicola Richards, pictured left with Wendy Morton, is aiming to become a Tory MP aged 24

The 24-year-old, who campaigned for Leave in the EU referendum, believes her message of backing local people and delivering on Brexit is resonating with voters on the doorstep.

The mix of candidates will make this constituency an interesting battle, with national interest thanks to Mr Galloway.

Other candidates making up a field of seven are Christian Lucas of the Brexit Party, Mark Redding for the Greens, Liberal Democract Andy Graham, and Colin Rankine of Yeshua.

West Bromwich West: Betty Boothroyd's seat

Sandwell has become a focal point of the election, with the Tories believing they can win seats there for the first time in history.

There will certainly be a new MP in West Bromwich West, but the question is will the victorious candidate still be wearing the red rosette of Labour?

Adrian Bailey has stood down after 19 years representing West Bromwich West

It’s all up for grabs after Labour incumbent Adrian Bailey announced he would be stepping down after serving as MP for 19 years in the seat formerly held by Betty Boothroyd.

Who are the West Bromwich West election candidates?

  • James Cunningham, Labour*

  • Franco D'Aulerio, Brexit

  • Shaun Bailey, Conservative

  • Keir Williams, Green

  • Flo Clucas, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 West Bromwich West election result?

  • Adrian Bailey, Labour - 18,789

  • Andrew Hardie, Conservative - 14,329

  • Star Anderton, UKIP - 2,320

  • Flo Clucas, Liberal Democrat - 333

  • Robert Buckman, Green - 323

  • Spoilt papers - 90

  • Turnout - 54.8% (36,168 out of electorate of 65,967)

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

  • Conservatives 8/13, Labour 6/5, Lib Dems 33/1, Brexit Party 50/1, Greens 500/1

The constituency has been represented by only Mr Bailey and Ms Boothroyd for the last 45 years, making this an historic election for West Bromwich West and potentially the most important for a generation.

Mr Bailey, aged 73, said he believed the time was right to go after Boris Johnson called the December vote.

He said he felt it was right for “a younger person, more attuned and comfortable with political campaigning in a social media age” to take his place.

James Cunningham, second from right, is Labour's candidate for West Bromwich West

Hoping to keep the seat red is James Cunningham, who has been selected as the Labour candidate. But he does not come without baggage, and his selection has proved to be controversial to say the least.

Party members in the West Midlands called for Mr Cunningham to be removed as a candidate after a series of complaints were made about bullying.

Mr Cunningham, a Labour community organiser in Birmingham, is considered the favourite for the seat, but it is far from cut and dried.

More coverage of West Bromwich West:

Mr Bailey enjoyed a comfortable majority in 2017 in what has always been a Labour stronghold. His majority over the Conservative candidate was 4,500 which the Tories would suggest is not unbridgeable – particularly when you throw Brexit into the mix.

Two-thirds of voters in Sandwell backed Leave at the 2016 referendum and frustration over Brexit could potentially swing some traditional Labour voters towards Boris Johnson’s Tories.

Shaun Bailey, right, out on the campaign trail with Dudley South candidate Mike Wood

Shaun Bailey, a lawyer from Telford, is the Conservative candidate who will be hoping to profit, in what would be a big upset.

Also making things interesting is Franco D’Aulerio, who will be standing for the Brexit Party. Nigel Farage’s party could pose a problem for Labour by tapping into pro-Brexit sentiment in the area.

Meanwhile, Flo Clucas, a former deputy leader of Liverpool Council, is standing Lib Dems, and Keir Williams for the Greens.

Warley: A Labour stronghold

The Sandwell constituency of Warley is a Labour stronghold and that is not expected to change this time around.

John Spellar has held the seat for more than 25 years, including in its previous guise of Warley West.

Who are the Warley election candidates?

  • John Spellar, Labour*

  • Michael Cooper, Brexit

  • Chandra Kanneganti, Conservative

  • Kathryn Downs, Green

  • Bryan Manley-Green, Liberal Democrat

What was the 2017 Warley election result?

  • John Spellar, Labour - 27,004

  • Anthony Mangnall, Conservative - 10,521

  • Darryl Magher, UKIP - 1,349

  • Bryan Manley-Green, Liberal Democrats - 777

  • Mark Redding, Green Party - 555

  • Spoilt papers - 116

  • Turnout - 63.3% (40,321 out of an electorate of 63,739)

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

  • Labour 1/100, Conservatives 20/1, Liberal Democrats 25/1, Brexit Party 66/1, Green 66/1

Labour holds in Sandwell are pretty much as nailed on as the sun rising in the morning, but there will be something unusual for Mr Spellar at the 2019 election.

He is the only one of the three long-serving Sandwell Labour MPs returning to defend his seat after Tom Watson and Adrian Bailey called time on their Parliamentary careers.

Mr Spellar is widely respected among those to the right of the Labour Party and has been an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn.

John Spellar, picture in front of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital site in Smethwick

Facing the unenviable task of taking on Mr Spellar, who commands a massive 16,000 majority, for the Tories is Chandra Kanneganti, who will be hoping pro-Brexit sentiment in the area will translate into votes for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Some 66.7 per cent backed Brexit at the 2016 referendum.

Michael Cooper will be contesting the seat for the Brexit Party.

Bryan Manley-Green is standing for the Liberal Democrats and Kathryn Downs for the Greens.

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