The boundary review

The English Boundary Commission gave its recommendations to MPs at noon today, with an embargo for midnight. Unsurprisingly they did not remain secret for long! I am busy crunching the numbers and will hopefully post something more substantial tonight with my first reactions. In the next few days I will hopefully be able to provide full notional figures for the provisional recommendations.

Some first observations are that the Boundary Commissions has gone to extreme lengths to avoid split wards. There are cases where the BC had a choice between splitting wards, or crossing local authority boundaries (or between splitting wards or coming up with strangely shaped or unnatural seats). Their earlier statements indicated that they would only split wards in extreme circumstances, but in practice they almost entirely avoided it (looking through the recommendations so far I haven’t found any). In some cases this has resulted in some rather odd seats (the oddest I have found so far is Mersey Banks, though there is also a seat in Lancashire taking wards from four different local authorities.

The other early observations are which MPs see their seats dissappear. A lot of early comment was around Vince Cable, whose seat is apparently merged with Zac Goldsmith in the new Richmond and Twickenham seat. A closer look suggests that most of his seat actually ends up in the new Teddington and Hanworth seat, which will notionally have a 11% Lib Dem majority… so Vince has a more vulnerable majority, but is not left seatless! George Osborne’s Tatton seat is no more… but forms the core of the new Northwich seat, which has a comfy 27% majority. Just because a seat’s name disappears or is merged with another, doesn’t mean they are left without a seat! Elsewhere of course, there are 50 MPs who really are losing their seats.

Meanwhile, out today there was also a new poll of the South West from Marketing Means – tables here.

89 Responses to “The boundary review”

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  1. Elsewhere of course, there are 50 MPs who really are losing their seats.
    Yes, & if they get shoved aside to make room for Cabinet members who’s seats have disappeared they’ll be apopleptic.

  2. AW- you did not comment on Clegg!

    Yes his seat name ‘only disappears’ but it is shared out into two seats that are distinctly less comfy for him…

    Interesting SW poll = both Labour and LD share up since last poll but calculates that Labour gain 2 seats, Tories 4 and Libs lose SEVEN….

  3. Hey Martyn, if you’re not fast – you’re last. ;-)

  4. 1st

    Regards, Martyn

  5. …ouch!

    Regards, Martyn

  6. @ Rob Sheffield

    Labour gain 2 seats, Tories 4 and Libs lose SEVEN….
    So the 7th seat goes Green?

  7. I wonder if this will make libdem mps more receptive to any possible revolt at conference, it might make the blue backbenchers more eager for a fight if there is a chance that it would lead to a new election on the old boundaries

  8. Rob – I haven’t looked at Sheffield yet, that’s why. The seats I’m picking out aren’t necessarily the most interesting, they are the one’s I’ve happened to find!

    Looking at the North West at the moment.

  9. weirdness on Merseyside. The new Maghull seat looks rock-solid Labour, Southport slightly better for the Tories, Labour lose a Wirral seat…

  10. The SW poll seems to show a slow but steady increase for LibDems. I would love to know what percent they polled prior to the Election. At least it’s not longer mid teens, that is has been for months.

  11. 50 MPs is only 8% ish of the total — probably be able to found out from people who are retiring anyway. Some MPs will have to be shunted across the country but it should definatley be possible for everyone who wants to stand to stand

  12. Joe

    ” Some MPs will have to be shunted across the country but it should definatley be possible for everyone who wants to stand to stand”

    Except this isn’t rearranging jobs for employees in local government reorganisation.

    How likely is it that a constituency in SE England will want to select an ex-MP from Wales, who couldn’t persuade a Welsh constituency to select them?

  13. Joe

    The trouble is that there were so many retired at the last election – helped by the expenses scandals – that there aren’t many left for next time around. A few Labour ex-Ministers will want to go but there won’t be anything like the usual voluntary exodus.

  14. The South West poll doesn’t really show any change – the sample size is too small for any of those changes to be anywhere near significant.

  15. Reposting this, as I was in mid-post when Anthony started a new one (it took me a while):

    Crunching some numbers (based on electorate of 2010 election).

    Of 59 seats up this way, 13 are with the 72810 – 80473 parameters. 2 are over, and the rest (44) are under the minimum required.

    The more interesting scenarios:

    Aberdeen North (64808) and South (64031), which are both Labour can only get more additions from Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine (66110) or Gordon (73420), which are both Lib Dem. Equally, Banff and Buchan (64300) is North of Gordon and is SNP.

    I can see masses of long faces in that one. :)


    Fife North East (62771 / Menzies Campbell / St Andrews / Lib Dem) can only get more from Glenrothes (67765 / Labour) or Ochil & South Perthshire (75115 / Labour).

    Glenrothes is heavy-duty Labour and if North East Fife take 12,000 or so seats from there, 60% of them will be Labour voters.

    Fife NE 2010 results:

    Lib 17,763
    Con 8,715
    Lab 6,869
    SNP 5,685
    UKIP 1,032

    Adding in the Glenrothes effect, a result might be:

    Lib 18,687
    Lab 14,345
    Con 9,579
    SNP 8,289
    UKIP 1,152

    If we factor in the Lib Dem polling and the SNP polling (SNP took Glenrothes on the MSP level) …we could be talking all sorts of wonderful things 2-way, 3-way or even 4-way marginal. :)

  16. @ Martyn

    Thanks for playing along. ;-)

  17. Those interested in London maps and stats may want to have a look at this (link given by Andrea on PB)

  18. Statgeek

    And factor in Ming Campbell’s age, that he could reasonably to go to the Lords, and that he might not fancy fighting a losable seat, then the LD incumbency factor disappears.

  19. I thought the NI boundary commission were releasing their recommendations today aswell?

  20. reading PB it all sounds horrible complicated and very messy, surly there must be a better system

  21. No YouGov tonight?

  22. Birmingham loses 1 seat by shedding a few wards to its neighbours. There is a big Tory gain, though. Currently we have 1 CON, 1 LD and 8 Lab. Notionally it will become 4 CON, 1 LD and 4 Lab. I’m guessing some people will be happier than others.

  23. Tonight’s YouGov (admit it you’d all forgotten about in the excitement):

    Con 37
    Lab 41
    Lib Dem 10

    Other Parties Voting Intention (11)
    UKIP 4
    SNP / PCY 3
    Green 2
    BNP 2

    Approval 31 – 54 = -23

    I thought the NI boundary commission were releasing their recommendations today aswell?

    They are. No leaks, however. I’ve been keeping an eye on Devenport’s Diary

    But nothing.

    However, there may be something after midnight, since his blog does accept comments. This in contradistinction to fearty Brian Taylor, his oppo in BBC Scotland.

    Since the summer, all of Taylor’s blog comments areas say

    Be the first to comment
    This entry is now closed for comments”

    Still, what would one expect from a Dundee United fan!

  25. The new Brighton and Hove seat looks like it has been created by putting all the Green wards together, which might put a bit a break on their hopes of expansion.

    In reality it probably means they made gains in a certain type of area and the BC has put those areas together because they adjacent, as similar areas tend to be. But when you have a ‘forced’ reorganisation people tend to see reasons for things when the true explanation is more innocuous.

    If Colin Green’s calculations are right I can see the same sort of accusations (including the dreaded G-word) being used there. The numbers game has produced some very odd-looking results and if it goes in favour of one Party, there are bound to be suspicions.

  26. Jim White

    Nothing on the BCNI’s site either or on Slugger yet. If there’s only eighteen of you, it’s presumably easier to keep secrets (assuming the SF’ers are even entitled to get a copy as unsworn-in)

  27. Those Sheffield seats are absolutely shocking – the commission seems to have focussed entirely on not splitting wards and have completely ignored community links.

    Places not far north east of the city centre are now linked with central Rotherham, while large council estates not far north of it are linked with the very rural areas south of Barnsley.

    Almost the entire western border of the city is in one long constituency with no real links, and they’ve still thrown in Penistone – you’d be hard pushed to drive from one end to the other without leaving the seat.

    And, most significantly, they’ve split the three core Lib Dem wards in Clegg’s seat between two seats, one of which stretches over to solidly Labour Arbourthorne. As I commented on the previously thread, I think this is the only possible way that Clegg could have ended up without a safe seat (although the Sheffield SW is still a likely Lib Dem hold, and they start narrow favourites in the bizarre western one).

  28. Have they really managed to make 4 Tory seats in Brum out of only 1 previous one? That’s rather amazing. And not in a good way from my point of view.

  29. Richard in Norway.

    not under the ludicrous shifting sands of FPTP, there isn’t…

  30. where are all the blues?

  31. Manchester Withington looses the 2 Didsbury wards to Wythenshawe and gains 2 wards from Manchester Gorton, that looks like enough to tip this notionally into the Labour column. The Didsbury wards gave the Lib Dems a local lead in 2010 of 10% and 18%, compared to a seat wide local lead in 2010 of 11%

  32. The threads linked to the link below reveal various postings with more detailed info on the review, by region.

    Alternatively, put your feet up for an hour and then read all about it in the papers.

  33. Meanwhile congratulations to Anthony on UKPR retaining its number 5 spot in the non-aligned section of the Total Politics Blog Awards.

    Main article with links to categories here:

    They’re doing a sort of striptease* with the results of a new category being revealed each day

    Anthony also came in at no 19 in non-aligned individual bloggers, which must be a surprise as I suspect he didn’t realise he was competing.

    * Or advent calendar if you must. We obviously move in different circles.

  34. In fact, the overall North West proposals are a nightmare for the Lib Dems. Westmorland and Lonsdale is split, with the biggest portion going into Kendal and Penrith and Windermere going to Copeland. Neither or these look strong bets for the Lib Dems given the other territory now included. Burnley is split into 2 with a Burnley North & Nelson (most of that seat was Pendle) and Burnley South & Accrington. Both of these seats would be tough for the Lib Dems. Manchester Withington could be notionally Labour. Southport takes parts of Formby, which probably helps the Tories. The best looking chances are probably Hazel Grove and Cheadle. However Hazel Grove will be riskier as it takes Poynton from Macclesfield (and looses some area to Stockport), so could be more vulnerable to the Tories.

  35. @Barnaby Mander
    “Have they really managed to make 4 Tory seats in Brum out of only 1 previous one? That’s rather amazing. And not in a good way from my point of view.”

    I don’t know. But if anywhere was going to suffer peculiar contortions from the decision not to split wards, it’s Birmingham, where the wards are huge i.e.bigger than anywhere else in the country. Still not big enough for the “exceptional circumstances” clause to kick in, though.

  36. Thanks Roger Mexico and OLDNAT.
    I suppose it makes little difference now- all will be revealed at midnight (hopefully!).

  37. WarOfDreams

    I’ll grant you, those Sheffield constituencies will look like mythical animals in their last agonies. But I wouldn’t get too hung up on “community links”. It doesn’t really mean much in Sheffield. The topology of valleys and hills and the abrupt changes of social/economic standings of areas which happen to be adjacent on maps means that Sheffield is and always has been a collection of villages and small towns grouped under the convenient umbrella of a city.

    The Crookes ward, a mix of C1 locals, and temporary student/academic influx is currently in Sheffield Hallam. So is Dore and Totley, the residential area of choice of locals made good. D&T is in a different valley and a different social milleu. Crookes overlooks the city centre, D&T is at the foot of open moorland. Crookes has no more or less in common with D&T than it does with the more distant Penistone.

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on it myself.

    But then, of course I wouldn’t, because I want Clegg out next time round…

  38. @David

    I suspect Cumbria will have to be redrawn as Westmorland and Copeland is ludicrous and Penrith and Kendal is also ridiculous to a lesser extent even if the Barrow and Carlisle seats are acceptable.

    Tim Farron could probably scrape home on the Penrith and Kendal boundaries but they are not going to happen.

    The lib dems are certainly in deep trouble in their other NW seats though due to probable retirals and tactical unwind.

  39. @Roger Mexico

    I know Anthony probably hates people continuing threads from previous pages but because I have left it late and did not want to look rude I would say to you concerning the the way the question was asked about British people on muslims is that I completely agree with your observations and I was merely concering with that. Although granted that not every pollsters are perfect and was probably none intentionally merely just sloppy or rushed at the last minute. I am just happy that we raised this important observation which always makes a very interesting and lively debate.

    On the issue of the boundary changes from what I read or what we should expect is that while Labour might lose the most in terms of seats in terms of proportionality the LibDems are going to have pay a heavy price and risk losing 12-14 seats. Doesn’t sound a lot when you compare Labour’s 20(odd) seats but when you think about it in terms of the vast amount of seats Labour enjoy now vs. the seats the LibDems have LibDems risk losing nearly 25% of their team.

    We have to remember that these seats changes were brokered over a deal that the LibDems get their AV referendum. Now feeling the aftermath of a bitter result which turned nasty mainly by the Tories (as well as Labour heavy weights) but to think that cabinet members were actively playing a part on the No2AV campaign I somehow feel that the LibDem grassroots will find supporting the boundary changes not a good idea knowing that the LibDems will risk being blood-bathed.

    I know some LibDems supporters on here will say now “but in our manifesto we wanted 450-550 MP’s”. That maybe so, however, that was on the assumption that they would in a position to say we want PR to be our new electoral system which would take out the issue of seat sizes altogether. If you ask me, all these boundary changes only makes the argument for PR and to a lesser degree AV a more convincing argument to support because arguments on representation, historical/cultural reason, gerrymandering, safe seats etc. would all be taken out.

    However, on a personal point (sorry I am making a partasian point), as someone who supports constituencies (ideally via AV or instant run-off) I don’t feel persauded when the coalition argue “too many MP’s” is the problem with our democracy. Surely, you could argue it’s “too little”. The reason we have safe seats is often we have mass electorate who supports one party while minorities are left ignored. By simply increasing MP’s will reduce MP’s lack of representation instead having to appeal to mass electorate of 75,000 instead of a much smaller electorate of 60,000. Also, this whole in the US, Canada and Australia have less MP’s and represent larger population is all okay until you find out that what is missing in the UK compared with the countries above is that they have a powerful devolved governments which the electorate can vote a much smaller representation. We have no such system unless you can count the Scottish Parliament.

  40. ‘Windermere and Copeland’ sorry.

    The London proposals also shaft the LDs so they will likely be reduced to just a couple of seats tyhere.

  41. Taking a while to do this – two regions sorted so far.

    Iain Duncan Smith’s seat is replaced by Chingford & Edmonton, which is notionally Conservative but pretty dicey (notional majority of 4%). A small part of his seat goes into the new Wanstead and Woodford seat though (the successor to Ilford South) which is a bit better (notional majority of 9% or so).

    For the area round Twickenham, as I said above, most of Vince’s seat goes into a new Teddington and Hanworth seat, which is notionally Lib Dem. The bit that goes into Richmond Park however means the new Richmond & Twickenham seat is also notionally Lib Dem. Of course, both these seats have comparatively slender majorities, so it doesn’t mean the Lib Dems will hold either.

  42. @Colin Green
    “Birmingham loses 1 seat by shedding a few wards to its neighbours. There is a big Tory gain, though. Currently we have 1 CON, 1 LD and 8 Lab. Notionally it will become 4 CON, 1 LD and 4 Lab. I’m guessing some people will be happier than others.”

    I’ve seen the same notional figures but they seem to be based only on 2010 local election shares. Done properly, local election shares should only guide a redistribution of actual 2010 GE votes so it’s hard to see them being quite so bad for Labour.

  43. LeftyLampton –

    I’ve lived in Sheffield for many years, so I’ve got a fair idea of the community links. You’re quite right that Crookes and Dore & Totley aren’t part of one community, but the three core Lib Dem wards – Ecclesall, Fulwood and Dore & Totley – fit very well together; they just need two or three other wards: Nether Edge and Broomhill would be a good fit, although possibly not quite enough voters (guesswork, haven’t calculated it). I hadn’t seriously considered the three being separated. But the real strangeness is putting half the city into cross-boundary wards, including putting Ecclesall and Fulwood in the same seat as part of distant Barnsley.

  44. I’ll look in tomorrow, but I am interested in the prognoses for Vince Cable’s future. Does someone have an inside fact as to why he would bother to stand again at his age?

  45. @Howard

    I think most people assume he will retire although he could try and fight that Teddington and Hanworth seat which has an LD majority of 11.5% but it’s very unlikely.

  46. Andy C

    I’d agree with all of that. The only thing I’d add is that I think the reduction in MPs proposed in the Lib Dem manifesto was supposed to be after regional devolution, which reinforces your point. There’s been quite a lot of discussion on here about how the reduction and comparison with other states is often with those with a federal set-up.

  47. WarOfDreams. I should have guessed. Apologies if I sounded patronising – that wasn’t the intention.

    I’ll still take issue with you though. You’re focussing solely on the core A/B wards. Why should they automatically be linked together? Why should Fulwood be tagged to Dore and not to, say Stannington? Fulwood is are geographically adjacent to both. And then, why not link Stannington to Stocksbridge? And then why not go the whole hog and link Stocksbridge to Penistone? They are both in the rural hinterlands.

    And going the other way, D&T has much closer geographical links to Beauchief and Greenhill than it does to Fulwood. But then B&G pretty much runs in to Norton and Heeleyand both of those run in to Arbourthorne. Seems like an entirely logical arrangement.

    The alternative, going out of one’s way to corall Ecclesall, D&T and Fulwood into one constituency is required only if the EBC have the writ to preserve historic right-leaning laagers.

  48. Have you ever tried travelling from Fulwood to Stannington? No real links at all (and yes, I know they are currently in the same seat, but that’s not a good thing, particularly with Hillsborough not in it).

    Stocksbridge is already in the same seat as Penistone, which is fair enough if it’s not also linked with south west Sheffield, but the only reason to link it with the south western seats would be to construct a constituency entirely within Sheffield.

    I don’t have a real problem with the south west seat, although Arbourthorne is not a great fit; its links are to the east, not with Gleadless Valley and the south west.

  49. So is this as good as a done deal now or might we see a real rebellion from Lib Dems who must feel proper screwed and even Tory backbenchers who fear for their safe seats?

  50. War of Dreams

    “Have you ever tried travelling from Fulwood to Stannington?”

    I do it regularly over Lodge Lane. It’s a fair bit quicker than going from Fulwood to Hunter’s Bar in the rush hour, although I’ll grant you, the actuaries would put a few bob on my life assurance premiums if they knew…

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