The Boundary Review

The forthcoming review of Parliamentary constituencies, set off by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, is going to be based on the electorate on the 1st December 2010 (that is the day the brand new electoral register from last autumn’s annual canvass came into effect). The Office of National Statistics this week published the Uk electorate for that day, so we can start making some firmer preductions about what is going to happen.

The electorate in the UK on the 1st Dec is 45,844,691. The legislation sets out a formula to decide how these seats are divided between the nations, so we can say with some confidence that England will get 502 seats (including the two guaranteed seats for the Isle of Wight). Scotland will get 52 seats (including the two guaranteed seats for the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland), Wales will get 30 seats and Northern Ireland will get 16, one more than had been expected from the 2009 electorate figures. Hence England will lose 31 seats, Scotland will lose 7, Wales will lose 10 and Northern Ireland will lose 2.

The new legislation sets out a strict limit on the size of the seats apart from the four guaranteed ones (and special rules for Northern Ireland and for very large geographical seats that will only affect the Scottish highlands). All seats need to be 5% above or below the quota of 76,641. This means seats in England, Scotland and Wales will need to have an electorate between 72,810 and 80,473 (Northern Ireland will have a slightly laxer limit).

We don’t know for sure how this will translate into seats for each county or region – it depends on how the boundary commission divide things up. If you just divide each English region by the quota you end up with 2 too many seats for example, so my guess is the Commission will use the same formula (Sante-Lague) as they did to divide up the seats between the nations to make sure they end up with 500. The strict 5% limit means that there will be many cases of seats having to cross county boundaries, but we don’t know which counties the boundary commission will chose to pair up. However, from what we do know, here are some early guesses.

South East (-1). The South East is the region with the most seats and the one that loses the fewest. It currently has 84 seats, including the Isle of Wight. Under the new legislation the Isle of Wight will automatically have two seats, gaining one. The rest of the South East will lose two seats, one from Kent and one from Hampshire. Other counties will keep their current number of seats. On paper there is no need for any seats crossing county boundaries, but this would make it very tricky for the Commission in getting seats within quota in East Sussex, so they may decide to pair it with West Sussex anyway.

London (-5). London currently has 73 seats, my prediction is that it will fall to 68 (by quota it would get 69, but the Sante-Lague formula would give it 68). There are, of course, countless different ways that London boroughs could be paired up in order to draw up boundaries, so it’s hard to predict with any confidence exactly where the seats will go.

South West (-2). The South West currently has 55 seats and will fall to 53. One of the main controversies during the passage of the bill was that the strict rules would produce a seat that straddled the boundary between Cornwall and Devon – this does appear to be the case. Cornwall is entitled to just under 5 and a half seats, so it would not be possible to give them 5 seats close enough to the quota. Instead they will have to be paired with Devon, the two counties getting 17 seats between them (down 1). Dorset and Wiltshire are also both unable to be divided into seats within quota, and will likely need to be paired. They will have 14 seats between them, down from 15 at the moment.

East of England (-2). Essex needs to lose one seat. Suffolk will be able to retain 7 seats. The other counties in the Eastern region will probably need to be joined together in some way to get seats within quota. It looks likely that Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire will be paired together and lose one seat.

West Midlands (-5). As we head northwards through England we will see more lost seats, as the demographic trend of population movement in the UK tends to be away from the Northern cities towards the South. Staffordshire divides nicely into the quota and will lose one seat. Between them Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester will lose one seat. Warwickshire is too big for the five seats it would get to be within 5% of quota, so will need to be paired. Together with the West Midlands metropolitan boroughs they will lose three seats.

East Midlands (-2). This is somewhat problematic – Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will both lose one seat. All the counties except Northamptonshire can be divided neatly into seats within quota, but Leicestershire will probably have to be paired with Northampton anyway. Between them they should also lose one seat..but that would give the East Midlands one seat too few. Over to you Boundary Commission.

North West (-7). The North West loses the most seats numerically in England. By quota it would be given 69, down 6, but if the the Boundary Commission use Sante-Lague to get England down to the right number of seats it would lose 7. Cumbria will lose one seat as will Cheshire. Merseyside will lose 2 seats – one from the Wirral and one from the rest of Merseyside. Thankfully the Wirral’s electorate is just small enough to divide neatly into three seats, so there is no longer the need for a seat crossing into Cheshire or a seat crossing the Mersey. On paper Lancashire doesn’t need to be paired, but it would lead to some difficult and small seats, so I think they may choose to have a seat crossing the boundary with the Greater Manchester boroughs – between them they would lose 3 seats.

Yorkshire and the Humber (-4). North, West and South Yorkshire and Humberside can all be split into within quota seats, with Humberside, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire each losing one seat. However, this would produce 51 seats, one more than the region should have. This could be solved with a seat crossing the boundary between South and West Yorkshire, when between them the two counties would lose 3 seats. Note that all eight of the current seats in North Yorkshire are within quota (the only English country where this is the case), so it’s possible they could all remain completely unchanged in the review.

North East (-3). The North East loses 3 out of 29 seats, the biggest proportional loss of any English region. There is likely to need to be extensive pairing of counties and Metropolitan boroughs here – very little divides neatly into seats within quota, so it’s difficult to predict exactly where the seats will go, other than Northumberland which is currently over-represented because of it’s sparse population will lose one of its four seat (or at least, most of it, given it will need to have a seat crossing a county boundary).

Scotland (-7). The Western Isles and Orkney & Shetland have their seats protected. The rest of Scotland will lose 7 of its 57 seats. The small Scottish counties lend themselves to many different pairings, so it’s to predict where the seats will go – Glasgow should lose one as should Edinburgh. The Highlands should lose one seat – which will almost certainly be Charles Kennedy’s – but there is the potential for the Scottish Commission to propose undersized seats in the Highlands if it is impossible to propose in-quota seats inside the limit on geographical area.

Wales (-10). Wales currently has the smallest seats, and therefore sees by far the most drastic reduction in its number of constituencies, losing a quarter of its existing 40 seats. Naturally all parts of Wales will be affected to some extent – interesting implications are a seat that links Anglesey to the mainland (almost certainly including Bangor with the island), seeing how the Boundary Commission deals with the Welsh valleys and which county it ends up pairing Powys with.

Many of you will be asking what the partisan effect of all this will be. It’s mostly too early to say – you can probably make some broad guesses about how some of the changes will impact on the parties (for example, the lost seat in Kent must be definition be a Conservative one, and it’s likely 2 of the lost North East seats will be Labour). However, you can only go so far with this – even if you can predict which seats are likely to be dismembered it will have a knock on effect on other seats. It’s also worth remembering that, with the exception of North Yorkshire, just because a county isn’t losing any seats doesn’t mean its seat won’t need to be re-arranged to come close enough to the quota, and that alone will lead to some seats notionally changing hands.

Note that there are some circumstances where the boundary commission can use data for 1st Feb 2011 instead, if there has been an election in the area, so there is still potential for these figures to change. The Scottish boundary commission has said they will make an announcement setting out how they will conduct the review on the 4th March, the Welsh Commission have said they will provide details in March, and I’d expect the other two Commissions to make similar statements. The expectation was that we’ll actually get some provisional recommendations in September, but we’ll know more next month. The final boundaries are due to be decided by October 2013.


189 Responses to “The Boundary Review”

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  1. sorry for my ignorance on this subject, but is this move politically motivated? Will it result in more seats for the conservatives?

  2. David – all boundary reviews result in more seats for the Conservatives because of the broad trends of demographic movement in the UK (well, in this case all parties will lose seats including the Conservatives, but the Conservatives will lose least).

    Essentially, northern cities tend to see their population fall… and tend to be Labour seats. The suburbs and rural areas in the south East tend to see their populations rise… and tend to be Conservative areas.

    Hence over time the boundaries become more and more biased towards Labour, which it reset at each boundary review when the Boundary Commissions make the seats equal again. This normally means a reduction of seats in Labour areas and an increase of seats in more Tory areas.

  3. Well, I think the real answer to the question is a straight “yes, it is politically motivated”. The Tories suffer mult-faceted disadvantages at elections. The one (and probably only) facet of this disadvantage they thought they could do something about was the disparity between the size of the electorates in Tory and Labour heartland seats. As AW says this is mostly due to “drag”, with the BC never able to keep up with events. But I think recent BC reviews have also been rather less kind to the Tories than they’d have liked. By changing the rules of the game, the Tories hope to reduce the disadvantage as much as possible. So yes the primary interest they have in the new rules is that they will increase the proportion of seats the Tories win for a given vote share.

  4. Anthony

    Thank you for all your efforts – very interesting!

  5. AW –

    That’s a really thorough piece of work, thank you.

    Didn’t one of the Lords ammendments that passed allow for appeals/public enquiries? Would these be allowable only after the official re-mapping is complete from 2013 onwards?

    I expect there are plenty of Cornish gearing up for the fight even now….!

  6. As all the seats in Kent are currently Conservative, if the number of seats in the area (I presume including Medway as Kent for these purposes – good) is reduced by one, obviously the lost seat will be Conservative. However, the boundaries may make a considerable difference as to Labour prospects. It is hard to see boundary revision helping Labour in East Kent; but depending on how Medway is carved up it could lead to fairly marginal Conservative seats in the Medway area, or possibly even one Labour seat in the centre of Medway surrounded by safer Conservative ones.

    This is a variant on the nationwide issue that if you cut a seat with areoun 150,000 electors (Chelmsofrd, Colchester, York) etc. acrosss the middle you have hitorically tended to get two marginals, whereas if you have a seat for the middle of the town city you tend to get a Labour (or in some cases LibDem seat) surrounded or even doughnutted by Conservative seats.

    It is to be hope that the boundary commission will avoid “doughnut” seats like York Outer. Leaving aside partisan issues, the “doughnut” seat usually has little community focus – indeed the natural place for offices and meetings tends to be in the seat surrounded by the “doughnut”.

  7. Part of the problem though is reported to chronic undercounting of people, particularly in urban areas. The number of people listed as living in the cities is said to be far lower than it actually is….

    Interestingly though, while I understand the desire to redraw boundaries, I don’t really see what the point of reducing the number of MPs in total is. I can’t see that 600 is any better than the current system.

  8. On the previous thread, John B Dick explained the regional nature of politics in Scotland, and exploring the question of the attitudes required of the LDs for survival.

    Unusually, FMQs were quite interesting yesterday – especially the question from Jamie Stone (LD MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross for those who don’t know him) about the Scottish Government’s effort to help those Scots trapped in Libya.

    It had all the air of a planted question – but these don’t normally come from the opposition!

    The PA report carries the detail

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hXu4WtIkg0us42TLevqpGort1nCA

    but it does raise the intriguing possibility that the Scots LDs may be repositioning themselves for an understanding with the SNP after the May elections – given Hague’s ham-fisted approach.

  9. Thanks Anthony for a really informative article as ever.
    I’m not sure whjere the urge to reduce the number of MP’s comes from. Presumably it is connected with the expenses “scandal”

    In some ways I think there should be more English seats as we do not have a devolved assembly. However as a Manchester resident I would feel unhappy about an English Parliament where the South holds sway.
    Under this Government I think, in terms of prosperity, the North/South divide can only widen.

  10. I have a feeling that this might do more for proportional representation – at least between the two largest parties – than AV will.

  11. Woodsman –

    Yes, there are public hearings, between 2 to 5 in each region, each taking up to 2 days. These will take place later on this year during the consultation period on the provisional boundaries (so presumably around November sort of time).

  12. Politically speaking, inititally in Scotland I think Labour will lose 5 seats & the Dems & Nats 1 each.

    But the push of Labour voters into Dem areas could end up costing the Dems 3 of those seats come the election.

    So Scotland could end up: Labour -2, Dems -4, Nats -1; based only on the math from the 2010 election.

    Changes in VI since would make my scenario more likely; of course there’s plenty of time for VI to change.
    8-)

  13. In Wales, I have 2 Tory, 5 Labour & 3 Nat seats likely to go.

    Post election push of voters? By my calculation, Tory will lose at least 1 seat to Labour. So -3 Tory, -4 Labour & -3 Nat would be the outcome, based on 2010 GE vote.
    8-)

  14. Thanks Anthony…

    To me it all seems to carry ghastly echoes of the re-drawing of counties and the creation of metropolitan boroughs back in the day.

    Logically, one can quite understand the reason behind equality of numbers of electors but when, by blurring counties together or creating “ring road” seats, it goes against the grain of history and community and everything an electorate understand as being “theirs” or “belonging to” then I think the exercise runs the risk of alienating voters even further from their representatives than they already are,

  15. Neil and Alisdair are right – there is no ‘logical’ reason why 600 MP’s would do a better job than 635. If I recall correctly the expenses scandal was the justification, but it is hard to see any of this as other than political.
    The major problem is that these exercises inevitably produce ‘constituencies’ which have no actual credibility on the ground. I live in South Yorkshire, in a newly-drawn constituency (for the 2010 election) which is a total nonsense. It contains parts of three distinct communities, but in each case the boundary cuts across the community. It doesn’t even have the major part-community in the name! Few local people can remember what it’s called, let alone where the boundaries are. And it may now be carved at again . . .
    South and West Yorkshire are different areas, with different major centres to which they look; this is very clear along the ‘border’ so any cross-border constituency will again be a nonsense. North Yorkshire (which Anthony suggests would be untouched) is a strongly Conservative area . . .

    Thanks Anthony for a thought-provoking piece of work.

  16. In Ireland, I have Belfast losing 2 seats. Initially -1 Nat & -1 Minority.

    Push of voters may put one Labour affiliated seat at risk so: Labour -1, Nat -1 is the math outcome.

  17. Very interesting analysis. Like others, I can’t really see the point of reducing MP numbers, unless it be to reduce the risk of back-bench rebellions. If this is so, it would be a bad thing whoever is in power.
    Anthony, your analysis implies that the Boundary Commission works on a regional basis in England. Is this true, or is it just something you have done to make analysis easier? I can think of several areas where it might be sensible for seats to cross regional, let alone county borders.

  18. Pete B – the Boundary Commission for England do not have to work on a regional basis and may well choose not to – we won’t know until they say.

    However, given they are supposed to take into account regional boundaries and the legislation on the public hearings seems to assume they will be working by region, my guess is that they will. There are indeed a couple of cases where it might be good to cross regional boundaries (Northamptonshire and North Lincolnshire spring to mind), but we’ll have to wait and see what they decide.

  19. London: I have Labour -3 & Tory -2

    As Labour & Tory seats are often in little ‘clusters’ in London, I doubt voter push will change anything much unless it ‘Mexican waves’ all the way to a marginal seat (& we had some very marginal seats in London at 2010 GE).
    8-)

  20. I expect I am just boring the @ss off people now; so I will leave it that for now.
    8-)

  21. @Anthony Wells

    You said “…East Midlands (-2). This is somewhat problematic – Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will both lose one seat. All the counties except Northamptonshire can be divided neatly into seats within quota, but Leicestershire will probably have to be paired with Northampton anyway. Between them they should also lose one seat..but that would give the East Midlands one seat too few. Over to you Boundary Commission…”

    Quick glance: Leicester as a standalone, Nottingham as a standalone, Northampton as a standalone, combine Rutland with the rest of Northamptonshire, combine the rest of Leicestershire with the rest of Nottinghamshire (a doughnut with two holes), subdivide as appropriate.

    You said “…Wales (-10)…seeing how the Boundary Commission deals with the Welsh valleys and which country (sic) it ends up pairing Powys with…”

    Quick glance: pair Powys with Monmouthshire, call it the “Welsh Marches”, we’ll have resurrected the Marcher Lords and the traditionalists can pleasure themselves silly. Newport will be paired with the Eastern Valleys, the Western Valleys will be a standalone, Bridgend/Neath/Swansea will be the Western M4 Corridor, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan will be standalones.

    Hope that helps, regards, Martyn

  22. @KeithP

    You said “…I have a feeling that this might do more for proportional representation – at least between the two largest parties – than AV will…”

    Leaving AV aside for the moment, the simple fact that the number of MPs decreases to 600 overwhelms any theoretical increase in PR resulting from this reapportionment. AV isn’t proportional but it is more proportional than FPTP (except for landslides, when it’s less), so you’ll need it to get back to the tiny level of proportionality you had beforehand.

    Regards, Martyn

  23. @Woodsman

    You wrote “…Logically, one can quite understand the reason behind equality of numbers of electors but when, by blurring counties together or creating “ring road” seats, it goes against the grain of history and community and everything an electorate understand as being “theirs” or “belonging to”…”

    I hate to say this, but I’m going to have to disagree with you there. Everybody in the UK thinks that “counties” have existed since time immemorial and it’s just this government that’s messing around with the borders, whereas the truth is county names and boundaries (and even the concept of “counties”) change 5-6 times a decade – they’re about as stable as the Weimar Republic.

    Regards, Martyn

  24. Is anyone aware of any studies on the extent of under registration? Is it right that this is more common in cities than in rural areas.

    A comparison of the census with the electoral register would do it, but – has anyone done so? Would seem like a very worthwhile study…

    Under multi-member constituencies boundaries are much less critical.

    So, small c- conservatives ,,, why not go with the grain of history and stick with the old county/met county boundaries and have elections by list PR? This would a) keep MPs attached a reasonably sized local area and make sure pretty well everyone’s vote actually counted – more than can be said for FPTP or AV.

  25. @Anthony Wells

    A sudden thought hits me: did you include the Isles of Scilly in your Cornwall calc? Would taking it out/adding it in resolve the Cornwall/Devon problem?

    Regards, Martyn

    [Martyn – unless the ONS left it off their figures for the seat they are in, then yes! (Even if they had, it wouldn’t be enough to give Cornwall the right electorate for 6 seats in their own right) – AW]

  26. The accepted wisdom in Northern Ireland has been that we would lose 3 seats. I’ve been saying only 2 for a while so its great to have a respected commentator as Anthony agree with me!
    This has knock on consequences in NI because unlike Scotland and Wales we SOLELY elect Assembly Members using Westminster constituencies i.e. not regional lists just multi member constituencies.
    The Assembly is free to change this but suspect the wont and the Assembly after the next will drop from 108 seats to 96 (16 x 6)

  27. Frederick has pointed out that even though Kent is currently wholly Conservative the review could lead to a notional Lab seat in the medway; I guess it could increase notional conservative majorities as well, we will have to wait and see.

    Same in the NEast (leaving Redcar aside as LD victory Corus driven) the reduction of seats could mean that 8 seats in the South of the region could end up being 7 and could either leave us with 7 notional Lab seats or 6 plus one notional con seat with a better majority (SSouth only 300 or so last time). It could even produce a second notional con seat as 2 lab majorities less than 10% in fact one is less than 5%.
    I am sure all the parties will be doing a ward by ward and then finding other ‘local’ reasons why the division which favours then best reflects the communities, history blah blah.
    If AV vote yes that will complicate their endeavors even more.

    Agree Donut seats awful regardless of party adavantage.

  28. Was it really neccessary to reduce the number of mps? Obviously, somebodies been manipulating the seat sizes in Labours favour previously (intentionally or not) and this needs to be sorted out for fairness, but I dont see the need for this reduction of seats.

    I wish the Isles would lose their protected status, why should their vote be worth 3 times mine. It would be closer to being fair if they had no vote at all than the current system.

  29. I really can’t see the arguments against equalising the size of seats, surely it makes sense for every MP to represent the same (as near as they can make it) number of people.

    Whether we *need* less MPs, is a different issue, but it seems sensible to make the seats the same size.

    Could make polling and predicting outcomes harder for the next GE though? (and that could be compounded if AV comes in!)

  30. @ Howard (another)

    A comparison of the census with the electoral register would do it, but – has anyone done so? Would seem like a very worthwhile study…

    _________________________________________

    The problem is the Census counts everyone present in the Country on the night of the 27th March, regardless of their right to vote.

    If Census result was used it would heavily distort any region with tourism etc. Also many students certain workers have their residence and choose to vote in one place whilst living during the week in another place.

  31. These boundary changes are of course politically motivated, but it will be up to Labour to organize itself & fight to mitigate the effects of them as it has done in the past. Even if this fails, Labour must avoid being overly depressed by them. If Labour enjoys anything like a clear lead over the Conservatives in terms of national share of the vote, it will lead to election victory notwithstanding the boundary changes.

  32. Anthony,

    Great posting. Very clear and useful to this Ealing Tory.

    You put the 2009 number for UK electorate in 2nd para.

    Phil

    [Cheers Phil – the rest of the numbers should be correct, I just left my workings on a different computer so had to get the electorate afresh! – AW]

  33. @ John Fletcher

    Good point about the census, but aren’t visitors marked as such?
    Although (doh!) full census returns don’t appear for 100 years…

    However there must surely be a way of using the basic constituency by constituency data to build up some kind of picture.

  34. @ Howard (A)

    but aren’t visitors marked as such?
    ————————————————————————–

    Yes, but there is no diferenciation between visitors with the right to vote and those with no right to vote.

    Anyway Census information is by law subject to huge security. It is held by the Office of National Statistics.

  35. @ Mark S

    ‘surely it makes sense for MP’s to represent the same number of people.’

    Trouble is it isnt number of people. It’s those over 18 who are on the electoral register. There is a difference.

  36. @Barnaby

    I agree. Labour needs to focus on getting people to register.
    It reminds me of the deep south in the USA in the 70’s when the Civil Rights movement worked to persuade Black people to register!

  37. John Fletcher

    If visitors are from another part of Britain, they are supposed to fill in a full form at their home address and just a nominal form where they are staying if they happen to be away on Census night. At least that’s what we did for visitors in the Isle of Man last time.

    As far as calculating the difference between the Census and the Electoral Roll this ought to be possible because data can be calculated at ward level and I think the census includes current nationality, which is what the right to vote depends on.

    There will still be some problems, most notably the four month gap between the relevant dates. More important of course the sort of people who don’t fill in the Registration Form won’t fill the Census either. Weren’t about a million young men missing in 2001?

  38. @Valerie

    Presumably those over 18, on the Register, entitled to vote in a general election ( so exclude EU citizens and members of the Lords), not in prison…

  39. Amber,

    Do continue please!

    My own hunch is that Anthony is being some between quite to very Conservative with a small c. It is fairly clear that this seat reduction is a boost to blue and a kick in the teeth for reds. I can hear the woofs and howls to that effect in Newcastle, Liverpool, Wolverhampton as I type…

    Now in my view it is right and proper that their be an equitable distribution on seats based on an average number of electors so far as is possible, so I have no problem with the proposed reforms. I like democracy, and this will enhance is [the equalisation of boundary sizes that is].

    I prefer to call a spade a spade, however, and so this in my view is seriously bad news for Labour.

    From an entirely objective point of view, only AV can claw back some of that disadvantage… with out AV Labour will find a future election, or future elections, tough going.

  40. On Belfast Amber,

    It is more likely one will go [south so yes a Nat..] East will stay with some revisions… we have nearly lost South Belfast in past redrawings so its writings have been on th wall for a while [I live there]

    In such a segregated place as NI it is impossible to call the other seat… south Belfast is the only properly mixed seat in NI..

  41. @Amber Star – Scotland/Wales/Ireland/London (pv):

    Tory -5, Lab -10, Dems -4, S/W/I Nats -1each.

    In your own time. ;)

  42. Howard (another) – the comparison with the Census was done in 2001 (it’s where the figure of 3.5 million people missing that’s often bandied around comes from). Unfortunately there are four problems with it:

    1) You can only do it every 10 years. Obviously.
    2) You can work out the number of people over 18 from the census, but you can’t necessarily work out if they are eligible to vote (e.g, if I recall correctly it doesn’t ask people’s citizenship).
    3) The census is normally done around March or April, while the electoral register is done in the Autumn. The electoral register starts off very accurate each December, and then becomes gradually less accurate as people move house without re-registering, die, emigrate and so on. By November it isn’t too hot. Hence comparing the census to the register is by definition comparing the census to a register that is 6 months or so out of date.
    4) The census isn’t perfect either! People who don’t return the annual electoral canvas are probably the sort of people least likely to complete the census either.

    As it happens the same day as they released these figures the ONS also released 2009 population estimates for each constituency, so we can compare the registered electorate in 2009 with how many adults over 18 the ONS think actually live there. The seats where adult population outstrips electortate by the highest amount are – by a mile – very affluent inner London seats like Kensington and Cities of London & Westminister – probably because there are large numbers of adults living there who are not eligible to vote. At the opposite end of the scale there are many seats where the electorate appears to be larger than the adult population. Either the ONS isn’t that hot at making population estimates, or innaccurate registers showing people who shouldn’t be there is also a problem.

    It’s probably both of course. Notably the Electoral Commission’s study into the completeness and accurracy of registers found a crude correlation between them – local authorities with high levels of incompleteness (i.e. there were people missing from their registers who should be there) also tended to have high levels of inaccuracy (i.e. their registers included lots of people that they shouldn’t have). This is to be expected, as one of the main causes of both is a transient population – if someone moves house without re-registering then the result is both an incomplete register at their new address and an inaccurate one at their old address.

  43. Eoin – it certainly will help the Conservatives and hurt Labour. Boundary reviews always do. What we can’t tell with much confidence is how much it will help and hurt.

  44. NorthWest, if Anthony i correct about it losing 7 seats:

    Wirral – Almost too close to call between Tory & Labour; Wirral South & Wirral West are 1 a-piece; I’m going to have it as a Tory -1 in the end. ;-) But I would say that, wouldn’t I.

    Merseyside, Labour -1 & it’ll stay Labour -1.
    Cumbria, Labour again -1; & it’ll stay -1.
    Cheshire, Labour -1; & stay Labour -1.
    Manchester, Lab -1, Dem -1; & that’s how it will likely stay, barring VI changes.
    Lancashire, Lab -1, Could end up Lab-1 or Tory -1 or Dem -1; very difficult to say at the moment.

  45. I’d be wiling to put my neck on the line and say that on notional results from 2010 this reduction was hurt

    Celts c.6 MPs
    Liberals c.8 MPs
    Labour c.27 MPs
    Conservatives c.9 MPs

  46. *pardon my grammar ‘will’ hurt

  47. Anthony,

    Surprised you don’t link to the source tables. I presume you took all the numbers above from the ONS tables here.

  48. So, in summary, what some on here seem to complain about is that the exercise will reduce red seats more than blue?
    The fact that reds seem to have a permanent bias in their favour, which is only rectified about every 10 years in arrears), through boundary re-alignment, doesn’t seem to be acknowledged by many reds (Eoin excepted).
    It sounds to me that this review is going to be the fairest & best balanced ever carried out.
    Will future reviews be carried out automatically, at more regular intervals?

  49. So what are the likely implications for the LDs? Do they get an easier settlement from these changes?

  50. @Barnaby Marder – “… it will be up to Labour to organize itself & fight to mitigate the effects of them [the boundary changes] as it has done in the past.”

    One consolation might be that in terms of registration and turnout, Conservatives and Lib Dems already optimise their vote share. The Ashcroft marginals operation and Cleggmania may prove to be a highwater mark.

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