Did the Tories really gain Hodge Hill in 2000, or is that a mistake?
It was a very different ward back then. The western boundary was the outer ring road and the southern boundary was the railway line. In the 2004 changes the ward lost around 3,500 mainly white voters to Stechford and Yardley North and around 1,000 mainly white voters to Shard End (area around The Glebe). In return it picked up around 5,000 pretty diverse voters from Washwood Heath (Ward End).
If I remember correctly, Hodge Hill was a super-majority white ward then and the Labour picked an Asian candidate.
The Labour candidate was Jahangir Alam so ethnicity probably played a part in the scale of his defeat. On the then boundaries it would still be an overwhelmingly white ward not entirely unlike many of the white working class wards that the Tories often win in the south of the city. The ward was a marginal, albeit with a Labour lean, throughout its existence in that incarnation with the Tories winning it in 1982, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1992 and 2000. Even in the mid 90s the Tories were still polling 30%+.