Just a quick line to point out that the Constituency guide part of the site has now been updated to reflect the general election results and the new MPs elected, including the target and defence lists for the parties (SNP and UKIP to follow). Before anyone points it out there’s still lots to do – including new swingometers and updating MPs profiles to reflect the reshuffles.

345 Responses to “Constituency Guide update”

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  1. The days, and circumstances in which Wilson lived are long gone

    Do voters rally round the flag of political ” moral crusades” any more? I doubt it-too much of the “Establishment” has crashed off it “moral” pedestal in recent years for the average voter to buy that stuff any more. That Emperor manifestly has no clothes-and we all know it.

    I doubt the average voter believes that politicians can pull levers marked ” our civilised values” & transform the world anymore

    Perhaps the young believe in crusades-but I think they will be attracted to pure protest parties-one or two narrowly focused issues that they can campaign on-without the nonsense of Manifestos full of policies for Government which will never exist.
    I think this is the mistake Greens make-if they dumped all that loony economic policy & just concentrated on Environmental Protection as a protest Movement , they could attract more support.
    The LDs may have to start again like this-just dumping the pretence of a Programme for Government, and espousing a key cause of common virtue.

    I smile when I read phrases like ” Liz Kendall will split the Labour Party and lose it many of its activists, the people who actually go out and do the work.”
    No doubt “activists” are important to political parties-but voters are what really count.

    Today, I think voters won’t vote for “crusades”-they have just a few basic criteria :-

    Will they be reasonably competent?
    Will it be good for my family & me.?
    Will it be “fair”?

  2. Colin,

    In 1981, the SDP were polling over 50%. In 1983 they won six seats. Part of the reason for that was that the party only had 58,000 members at its peak – about a tenth of what the Tories and Labour had at that time.

    Without members and activists to embed a party into a particular area and do ground work, you can’t get all that far. You can’t run a party from a television studio, much as that is important.

    All this supposes anyway that there isn’t a policy platform and leadership which could both impress voters and keep party activists reasonably happy. I’m sure there is.

  3. MR N

    I understand the dilemma-particularly seen through the eyes of an “activist”.

    But the vast majority of voters aren’t “activists”. Do you really think the ability to cram their letter boxes full of leaflets & pester them to death on the phone ( if thats what you mean by “embed in a particular area)
    is going to make them join a political “crusade”?

    Its a rhetorical question :-)

  4. Colin,

    Actually no. But activists aren’t just for door knocking and leaflet delivery (or they shouldn’t be). They’re the people who shovel snow outside school gates in winter, or pester the council to fill in potholes, or refit social housing.

    That’s no political crusade, but it’s material activism that makes a small but meaningful difference to people’s quality of life. That’s what I mean by embedding into an area.

    Any party – left, right or centre – needs local activism that directly affects people, not just electioneering. Now having activists doesn’t mean a party necessarily does that, but a party without activists cannot do that.

  5. TOH

    Now, now. I didn’t say that only the Left had “civilised values”, simply that many in the Labour Party seemed to lack ones such as pursuing the social good rather than power.

    People will, of course, disagree as to what values are “civilised”. The Greeks and Romans would include slavery amongst them – but I’ll wait to see if Kendall, Burnham et al are willing to embrace that too. :-)

  6. MR N
    …….which was the most successful campaign policy in the GE:-

    Miliband’s 4 million conversations


    Jim Messina’s marginals voter profiling , and Facebook targeting.


  7. Colin,

    Honest answer, we don’t know. Not having had accurate polling rather obscures the picture. It could be that Labour would have lost by more without their ground activism. Or they could have been closer by adopting Messina’s strategy.

    Thing about the six million (as it was in the end) conversations was that the content matters. A conversation in which we can tell a voter “We got a new classroom for your child’s primary school, and we want the council to have a bigger share of the budget so they can do more stuff like that” is much more effective than one in which we bang on about a Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society, or a Cost of Living Crisis, or a Long Term Economic Plan.

    That a party won an election is not on its own enough to ascribe success to any individual campaign technique or failure to any of the defeated opposition’s. Sadly it’s more complicated than that.

  8. Colin

    “Will they be reasonably competent?
    Will it be good for my family & me.?
    Will it be “fair”?”

    I think that’s about right. I suspect Lab lost last time primarily on the first test and had their lead on the third hamstrung by fear of Scottish bullying, and the whole issue of immigration (perception that the Scots and immigrants get all the gravy).

  9. MR N

    I am sure it is.

    I commend party activists like you , -in all parties.

    Clearly PPCs & Candidates can’t operate completely on their own.

    I just don’t buy the “crusade” thing-I doubt that it has widespread appeal with voters.



    In retrospect I think I should have written that as :-

    Will it be good for my family & me.-and/or-will it be “fair”?

    Because I do think voters can perceive a general “fairness” which will advantage others, even when it disadvantages them.

  11. Mr N

    That’s an interesting analysis.

    On community activists, can I suggest that you should perhaps look at things the other way round?

    Such people (thankfully) exist in all communities. If such folk feel that a particular party is more likely to meet the needs of their community, then not only are they more likely to work for it at election time, but exert their considerable influence in the community to go out and vote for that party.

    In other words, parties have to earn the support of communities primarily through gaining the backing of local community leaders. Losing their support means an extraordinarily hard struggle to get it back.

    In Scotland, at least, the rhetoric from many of the Establishment in LiS implies that there is now a vacuum in communities because LiS had failed to engage for many years.

    The reality is that the vacuum never existed. Community activists simply changed their view of the party most likely to meet their needs.

    It seems possible that in England Labour has the opportunity to re-engage, though whether the direction being currently explored by leadership candidates will achieve that may be open to question.

  12. Colin,

    As it happens I agree. The magic trick (which if pulled off just right can be enormously successful) is to have a moral purpose behind your policies which fires up your activists, which they can then sell as practical, logical and fair/appealing to large sections of the electorate.

    Some policies which have managed that in the past include:

    State pensions (Liberal)
    The NHS (Labour)
    Right to Buy (Conservative)
    Outlawing the closed shop (Conservative)
    Minimum wage (Labour)
    Free school dinners (Lib Dems)

    The middle bracket is policies which annoy your activists but appeal to some voters, i.e.:

    Same Sex Marriage (Conservatives)
    Staying in the EU (Conservatives)
    Anti-terror laws (Labour)
    Bedroom Tax (Lib Dems)
    Keeping Trident (Labour)

    The bottom bracket is policies which inspire your activists but which voters hate, awkward short term compromises or policies so boring or inept nobody could possibly like them:

    The Poll Tax (Conservatives)
    98% tax on ‘unearned income’ (Labour)
    The Barnett Formula (Labour)
    The Cones Hotline (Conservatives)
    The Milennium Dome (Both)

  13. OLDNAT

    @”In other words, parties have to earn the support of communities primarily through gaining the backing of local community leaders. ”

    For me-that sounds like an entirely alien concept. Further-one which has the unfortunate ring of cultures in which the individual’s place in society is dictated by a particular religious teaching.

  14. MR N

    Thanks-I like those lists-particularly the second one :-)

  15. Colin

    “Because I do think voters can perceive a general “fairness” which will advantage others, even when it disadvantages them.”

    I agree.

    However, presumably that often means thinking of such “others” as “others in my community” (however they choose to define that community).

    Guymonde’s comment suggests that many exclude “immigrants” and Scots from that concept. I’m not suggesting that those living in other places than Guymonde’s perception covers are any “better” or different from that – simply that the post-war consensus that allowed extensive centralisation of power in Westminster/Whitehall has fractured so much that it makes sense to revisit the constitutional assumptions that underlay the practices of the second half of the 20th century.

    I will look with interest at the Tory proposals on extending administrative devolution in England. I suspect that they may have registered that such moves may keep them on a winning track.

    After all, the wider dissemination of devolution/ autonomy / local control isn’t a “left/right” issue.

  16. Colin

    I suspect we are thinking about “communities” in totally different ways!

    The Christian ministers or the Bhuddist monks on Arran are all engaged in community activities, but they aren’t the sort of “leaders” you are thinking about.

    Of much greater importance are the people who lead community groups and successfully persuade islanders to work together to improve their community as well as agitating for the council to improve the infrastructure.

  17. OLDNAT

    @”However, presumably that often means thinking of such “others” as “others in my community” (however they choose to define that community).”

    Perhaps so-but not exclusively by any means. I think fairness to people in a particular social , financial or health category etc , whether they are in “my community” geographically or otherwise- or not would be easily perceived.

    I don’t really get the concentration on “community” in the political context.

    Thinking about my own “community” for example-who are it’s “leaders”? Actually I dont anyone in the village/parish is perceived as a “leader” at all.

    Chairman of the Parish Council?
    The local Bobby?
    The owner of the village shop?
    The vicar?
    Active local Volunteers?

    None of these would be seen as “leaders” I think-and certainly any pronouncement by any of them that Political Party X should be Approved Of , would be unthinkeable.

    These people would all count as significant contributors to Village life certainly-their views would always be of interest-but may from time to time be quite unwanted or unacceptable.

    But perhaps “community” means something entirely different where I live compared to where you live.

  18. Colin

    “But perhaps “community” means something entirely different where I live compared to where you live.”

    It certainly seems that neither where you live or I do, matches your previous description of a community as “cultures in which the individual’s place in society is dictated by a particular religious teaching”!

  19. OLDNAT

    Indeed so!

    That such “communities” exist-in any country, is I feel sure, as repelant to you as to me.

  20. I will stay a member of the Labour Party whoever is the leader as imo it and will remain the best vehicle for acihieving progressive change within the UK (SNP/PC can’t achieve in the UK).

    Mr N is absolutely right that 1994 was a very different landscape and the truth is that in Brown, Blair and Cook (Plus Beckett perhaps) Labour had politicians well placed to take advantage of the enervating Major Government.

    None of the current leadership candidates fits that bill which may or may not have as much to do with circumstances as their individual qualities.

    To me the left/right or so-called Blairite or not distinctions are not relevant but rather the candidate best able to facilitate a genuine and open dialog within the party about what is needed next

    The idea that Kendall would have the authority, should she win and wish, to make wholesale policy changes without due process is unrealistic. As such I am less worried about her from a policy standpoint that some others appear to me.

    Never been greatly impressed with Burnham whilst Cooper would have got my vote in 2010 has she stood.

    Probably Cooper, Kendall for me.

  21. JIM JAM

    I think a woman LP Leader would present DC with difficulties in “combat”.

    Cooper would allow him reference to the past & to her husband-so maybe that would level the playing field.

    But Kendall, with little or no baggage & a “common sense/what works & doesn’t” approach , without ideologies , could harry him relentlessly on all fronts. Of course she would have to be up to the task-but I think she might be.

  22. Good Afternoon All.
    COLIN and JIM JAM.
    The new Labour member for Ilford North has an interesting article in The House magazine today, explaining the GE experience he had, realising the GE was being lost by Labour, and why.
    He also says he is going for Liz Kendall.

    I think she will win the leadership.

    Labour Party rules state the deputy must be a man…I am not sure who that might be. Blair for me.

  23. @ Chris Lane1945

    “the deputy must be a man”

    HH? I looked at the rule book, it very carefully avoids the personal pronoun.

    Also, as was reminded a few days ago, HH’s proposal in 2011 of having leader and deputy from different genders did not go through.

  24. LASZLO.
    Thanks very much for this information, and is a relief.

    Caroline Flint then, if not Tony Blair.

  25. @ Colin

    My experience in this country is that any reference to YC’s husband, if she was the leader, and she presented anything related to policy, would spectacularly backfire.

    That is, treating her as a wife and not an individual.

  26. @Oldnat

    “Guymonde’s comment suggests that many exclude “immigrants” and Scots from that concept.”

    No, that’s not what I mean. But there is a perception that has been around for a while that immigrants get special treatment, particularly around housing – which is the overwhelming problem round here – but also around public services in general. The Scots bit is different and new – they get free universities and better public services because they’ve twisted the treasury’s arm to get more gravy than the English (and a Lab/SNP government would result in a tidal wave of gravy washing over Glasgow)

    I am not pointing up prejudice against immigrants or Scots: in general people are perfectly happy for them to be fairly treated but they want their (perceived) special treatment withdrawn.

  27. @ Guymonde

    Yes, it’s about perception rather than reality. According to Eurobarometer, the worst perceptions about immigrants (and the change against them) is (apart from my homeland and Slovakia) in Estonia, where there are a precious few immigrants. The best (although deteriorating) is in Sweden and Germany where they received a disproportionately high numbers.

    So the question is what to do with the perceptions? And it is not only about immigrants. According to Ipsos Mori (just recognised what a nice name they have), Brits thought a few years ago that 25% of the working age population was unemployed (and benefit cheats). Well, there is a war against the benefit receivers, but it won’t change the perceptions.

    I’m waiting for the government action against people wearing colourful necktie, because apparently there is a very strong negative perception against them.


    An interesting article in House Mag.


    “treating her as a wife and not an individual.” can be avoided whilst still taking advantage of his existence-guilt by association etc.

    But I agree that it is hard to get right without invoking your caveat.

  29. Laszlo,

    I worry now as a wearer of one or two colourful ties. I’ve got a bright red one, a bright purple one (for when I visit Clacton?) and an assortment of grey and black ones should I ever join top flight politics.

  30. Chris,

    I think than many LP members will remember Flint’s petulance at Gordon Brown – loyalty in public is important imo.

  31. @ Mr Nameless

    Washed colours are perceived as more upperish class according to a Mintel research about ten or fifteen years ago.

  32. COLIN
    No wonder we are on the same side. I absolutely agree about Liz Kendall. I know very little about the girl, but her “this has not worked,”
    comments show she is prepared to bring Labour into the 21st century.
    Its very easy to accuse people like me of wanting the Tory manifesto and leadership running Labour, but the left wing “what about the workers” clarion call has fallen on its bottom. The freshness of her appearance and message, is what Labour need.

  33. Sadly, people speaking about Anthony Blair in any kind of position of power in the Labour movement , shows they really have learned nothing.

  34. Guymonde

    Thanks for the clarification. I think we can probably all agree that perception is the key point

    Of course, perceptions are partly constructed for partisan political reasons.

    Your use of university fees is an interesting one. That students resident in England pay more in fees than students elsewhere in the UK (or Europe for that matter) is entirely down to people there electing a government that chose to charge more in fees than governments of different political persuasions elsewhere.

    The debate over the Barnett Formula would be far more relevant.

    To have any meaning, it needs to be recognised that –

    only “identifiable” expenditure is currently used in the calculation of spend in the different parts of the UK

    “non-identifiable” spend has an impact on the economy of the areas in which the facilities are located (MoD used to publish these figures but no longer does)

    the Treasury decides which parts of expenditure are deemed to be of whole-UK benefit and are “non-identifiable” (these include the London Crossrail project and the London sewer renewal)

    etc etc

    The best estimates for the Scottish situation is to be found in GERS, but a lot of the data has to be estimated, as the UK figures are inadequate even for the purposes of the changes proposed in the Scotland Bill.

    An intelligent debate (which I doubt that there will be) would need to identify mechanisms for the transfer of resources – preferably to capital not revenue budgets – from the richer “regions” (currently the top 3 are London, SE England and Scotland) to the poorer ones, in order to boost their economy and reduce their dependence on resource transfer.

    Such a debate needs to include how public expenditure is used within England, instead of encouraging the crude and ignorant posturing of those who scream “the Scots are stealing English taxpayers’ money”.

  35. @ Roland

    I really hope I consider individuals on their own merits in the classroom and in business and in my private life.

    Also, the UK (and the world) is changing (sometimes almost imperceptibly, sometimes radically), and it has nothing to do with PC. The bottom and the top are the same, but young people walk very differently in it, and it is their business, and their responsibilitIes.

  36. Mr N

    Let me know when you’re coming to Clacton and I’ll introduce you to our former MP, Ivan Henderson, so you can wear your red tie and to our present MP, so you can wear your purple tie.


    When the Tories lost so spectacularly in 1997, did you say that was the end of Conservatism and argue for a leader putting forward Labour policies?

  37. JIM JAM
    There is a hugely difficult issue in the work place concerning sexist put downs and sexist decision making which I believe Caroline Flint experienced, as did, apparently, the -then-PM of the UK’s private office staff.

    There is a story of Mr Bevin, in his Foreign Secretary days when he called one of his (female) office staff into his office and apologised to her in front of the USA ambassador, as he had been rude to her in front of this man earlier in the day.

  38. Our friend Eoin is less than happy that LiS members are being removed from the party because they decided to vote SNP (though Labour gets the name of the party wrong).

    It’s all within Labour Party rules, but is it wise?


  39. As cameron and osborne have shown and blair and brown and brown and darling didnt choice of shadow chancellor is way more important than deputy leader.

    So its Burnham/Reeves- looks solid

    Kendall/Umunna ? Might go wobbly but ego rather than policy driven

    Cooper//Balls nah ok Leslie ? Looks a bit samey and dull

    Creagh /doesnt matter

    Reckon Tommy W who seems determined to avoid nominating will walk the dep .

    Could he become the JP of the blairite leadership -well they both like a curry.

  40. Chris – Browns alleged tantrums at junior office staff is one thing but if true unacceptable.

    Flint’s claims to be ‘window dressing’ contradicted the evidence of the record of New Labour (Blair and Brown).

    Harriot Harmon, Yvette Cooper and others never made such accusations.
    For me it is anyone but Flint.

    [Snip] Cameron, despite his detractors has detoxified the Tory Party 85 %. If you ignore the totally wrong polls, except the one that counted, you will see [they] responded to [their] problems rather well.

  42. George Eaton in the New Statesman thinks there’s a terrible conspiracy at work to cheat Labour of the next election by basing the new constituencies on electorates rather than population.

    Unfortunately for George, he doesn’t seem to know that the Boundary Commission has always based its reviews on electorates rather than population.


  43. @Oldnat

    Those letters look to be crazy suicide notes from LiS.

  44. Quite right LiS kick em out -its one thing to do it ,another to boast about it on twitter.

    And lets face it the snp are well known for their wishy washy liberal internal discipline arent they?

    Labour in scotland has to rebuild as community based activists from the bottom just like the snp did,sinn fein did ,the lib dems did .

    Rotten apples they dont need.

  45. CMJ

    To be fair, we don’t know whether other people have been removed from the party for stating an intention to vote SNP – or whether LiS members encouraging supporters to vote tactically for Con or LD to beat the SNP have been expelled as well.


  46. Norbold asking Rolandgatinoise: “When the Tories lost so spectacularly in 1997, did you say that was the end of Conservatism and argue for a leader putting forward Labour policies?”

    I think that when a party suffers a major reverse at the polls it will inevitably examine why its opponent won. This usually leads to acceptance of key planks of that other party’s policies. For example, going into the ’97 election the Conservatives strongly opposed the minimum wage. Now they strongly defend it and many Tories, including me, feel that there is a case for moving towards the living wage as the minimum. Labour, during its eighteen years in opposition, came to accept privatization and the right to buy. They may not have been enthusiastic but come their ’97 victory, they did little to reverse these policies and social housing construction continued falling to even lower levels than under the Tories. I think that now everyone realizes that we do need more social housing but finding a way to provide it is proving elusive.

  47. Well, they expelled party members for less than that in Liverpool, and it took Labour about ten years to come back, and after another ten years they are in full control (and the majority of those who were thrown out of the party in 1991 (and still alive and are in Liverpool) vote for Labour).

    Hard to decide

    i guess Roland thinks I have a preference for sending these people to the Gulag ….

  48. I suspect compiling the UKIP defence list will take some time.

  49. @07052015

    I think you’re right about Burnham/Reeves, Kendall/Umunna and Cooper/Leslie as likely combos.

    I’m not sure any of those three are yet tremendous politicians. Both Reeves and Umunna were hyped on coming into the shadow cabinet but, IMHO, haven’t performed exceptionally well. Reeves has been too easily drawn into the type of criticism of Tory welfare policies that appeals to Labour backbenchers/activists but not the average voter and Umunna has struggled to demonstrate that there is substance behind his style and smoothness. Leslie, meanwhile, was little more than an on-message No. 2 to Balls but it will be interesting to see if he can break out now he’s covering the main job.

    Despite their weakness it is hard to see any other realistic candidates beyond those three. And it must be remembered that George Osborne was not particularly distinguished until he became Shadow Chancellor, or even after a couple of years in the job, but with time made himself into a big player. It took about eight years from his initial appointment as Shadow but he is now a net asset to the party I think.

  50. @J R Tomlin –


    Would you mind finding a reference to that ‘generation’ thing in the SNP manifesto? I have looked and looked and can’t find it. Strange that. ;)”

    Not strange at all – I doubt it’s in there.

    Its what we in England call a ‘joke’.

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