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.