The Times this morning report that the government are to drop the 600 seat boundary review and start again with a 650 seat review. A few technical points on this:

  • The rules and timetable for the Boundary Commission are set out in statute, meaning that any changes will require primary legislation. Until the law is changed the current review will continue, based on 600 seats and a deadline of 2018. To go back to a target of 650 seats the government will need to pass new legislation changing the rules to 650 seats, and starting up a new review from scratch.
  • That legislation will be an opportunity to change other boundary rules. In the Times article there’s a quote from Labour saying they’d support the change back to 650 seats, but no doubt they’ll have some other recommendations too were the government to try and get cross-party support for the Bill. Even if the government aim to change only the 600 seat rule, there will be opportunity for the Bill to be amended in other ways as it passes through the Commons and Lords. Two things to really keep an eye on are how close to the quota the boundary review requires seats to be (currently 5%, but the Private Member’s Bill that Labour supported last year would have changed that to 10%) and how often they need to happen (currently 5 years, but the Labour Bill last year suggested ten years). Either change would make things a bit better for Labour – as a general rule, strict equality requirements and frequent reviews favour the Tories, more flexible equality requirements and less frequent reviews favour Labour.
  • Timing will be a little tight, especially if the Bill doesn’t get cross-party support and gets tied up in the Lords. On the current rules it takes three years to carry out a review, and that was achieved by cutting the process down as much as possible. If the government want a review conducted in time for 2022 they need to get that legislation going soon so the Boundary Commissions can scrap their current review and start again on a new one next year.
  • If the review happens it will still favour the Tories a bit, regardless of tweaks to the rules. The current constituency boundaries are based on the electorate in 2001, so updating it for sixteen years of demographic change is still going to move things about quite a lot. Taking the electorates from the 2017 general election, by my reckoning a boundary review on 650 seats would still produce 7 extra seats for the South East, 3 extra seats for the South West and 3 in the East (presumably mostly Tory), and seats being lost in the North East, North West, Scotland and especially Wales.

Meanwhile there are two voting intention polls to update on:

YouGov for the Times had voting intentions of CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(-2), UKIP 4%(+1). Fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday last week and changes are from a week before. Full tables are here. YouGov also released some interesting European polling on Brexit, asking other EU countries how they’d react if Britain did an about face and decided that we did, after all, want to remain in the European Union. This would be welcomed in Germany – 49% of Germans would rather we stayed, 25% that we left and the most common emotional reactions to Britain staying after all would be “Relieved” (23%) and “Pleased” (22%). Contrast this with France – 32% of French respondents would prefer that Britain stays, but 38% would rather we go. The most common French reaction to us changing our minds would be “Indifference” (23%) (tabs for the EU polling are here.)

Meanwhile Survation in the Mail on Sunday had an online poll in the Mail on Sunday with topline figures of CON 38%(nc), LAB 43%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 4%(-2). Fieldwork was Thursday and Friday last week, and changes are from Survation’s last online poll in July. For the record, there is a very minor method change in the Survation poll – UKIP are no longer prompted in the main question. Full tables are here.

628 Responses to “Boundary review and polling update”

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  1. Just wondering if Tory members still think Rees Mogg is their best bet for leader?

    He’s just come out against gay marriage and abortion – in any circumstances, including rape.

    Looks like Cons are wanting to head into the century before last.

  2. Good morning all from an overcast PSRL.

    Superficially looks like Labour’s current positioning on Brexit hasn’t done much harm.

    I am becoming increasingly convinced that if there was a 2nd ref then remain would win, largely due to demographic changes and the fact that younger voters of all socio-economic groups are more likely to vote remain. I don’t see much evidence of middle age remainers converting to leave to offset the number of leave voters who would have died since the last vote.

    Given the ferocity with which Brexiters attack any notion of a second ref makes me inclined to think that they realise they would probably lose.

  3. @alec

    Actually he was harking back to the the sixteenth century with a reference to Sir Thomas More’s argument for church and papal supremacy! He said marriage was a holy sacrament completely ignoring that marriage is now a civil institution to which various faith groups add their own interpretation.

  4. Alec be interesting to see if the same Conservatives who were very critical over the previous Lib Dem leader Tim Farron have the same concerns regarding JRM.

  5. @alec

    Another interesting question re Rees Mogg is how he reconciles his support for the supranational authority of the Papacy and his British isolationism regarding the EU.

  6. Interesting that Survation have remain slightly ahead on a re-run of the EU referendum [Tables 8-10]. That’s the 2nd recent poll to show that, albeit with a somewhat closer result than the latest Opinium poll.

  7. Jacob Rees Mogg is a reminder that Theresa May is not the worst of all potential PMs from the Tory benches.

    One problem is that the most propitious figure in the Tory party for the job – Ruth Davidson – is still far too inexperienced and not in the right parliament. And since she has her ambitions on being First Minister, rather than PM, that rules her out of contention for at least another 10 years.

    I also like Rory Stewart, but he might be seen as lacking “presence” and he’s also too inexperienced, although significantly more experienced than Davidson.

  8. @Laszlo (from previous thread)

    Generally agree with your point about the real question being about what type of country / society we want to be living in in 10 years time. The problem the electorate has is that neither of the two main political parties is providing a coherent answer to that question or how it can be achieved.

    @Danny (from the last threat)

    In terms of bi-polarisation, I am yet to be fully convinced that it will increase / harden, in part due to the fluidity one can observe in the current electorate. In addition, both the EUref and last election can be interpreted as the result of protest (the first by older voters the second by younger voters) rather than the polarisation of the electorate into two camps with radically different views.

    The apparent polarisation between young and old in terms of voting in England and Wales, can be seen to a significant degree to be driven by Corbyn’s appeal and Brexit, which are both transitory factors that may not affect VI post the next election. One cannot therefore assume that Labour will maintain its current level of support amongst the under 45’s past the next election.

    In addition, there is a significant number of Labour voters who in broad terms supported the pre-2016 status quo (pro-remain, socially liberal mc), who the LD’s will naturally target if Labour are seen as gong too far to the left.

  9. obvs meant ‘thread’ not ‘threat’

  10. @ COLIN – thank you for your reply on the previous thread. I agree and if Starmer/Thornberry can craft an amendment that tackles the legal complexity of reigning in the potential excesses of the Bill as it stands without frustrating the process then I think that is good and should pass. Grieve, Soubs, etc would go for that (but nothing more than that). I can see that a “promise” statement might not be enough.

    @ VARIOUS – the Brexit negotiations were always going to be difficult but a new FTA with EU should be easy as we’ll be photocopying the old one (from a position of 100% equivalence in its broadest possible sense) and then just tweaking it (not writing it from scratch from a position of difference on regulations and standards) – DD explained that y’day. Even if we temporarily walk away with no deal and existing trade in goods have tariffs (note our huge aggregate deficit with EU!) and we have to rely on equivalence for services our regulations and standards will stay very close to EU’s – at least it would be if this was the focus of LAB’s role as opposition. In some areas (eg pasteurized dairy products, UK’s standards are higher than EU but that debate has been lost to the monster of chlorinated chicken and shape of bananas!)

    @ SOMERJOHN – CON have promised a vote to accept/reject a final deal. Do you accept the present tense in your comment requires an acceptance that the current situation (or situation as at say Autumn 2018) is not the situation prior to June 2016 or are you still fighting the old war? Status quo is also incorrect as it’s the legally committed future state that would be voted on (it’s a choice about the future, not the present or the past). If the deal on the table is pay 100bn to be locked in CU until at least 2023 then I hope reject win the vote and the default alternative occurs.

    @ AL URQA, etc. – totally agree some U-turns backfire! Looking forward to seeing how LAB’s U-turn works out for them.

    @ VARIOUS – next CON leader. Two scenarios:
    i/ Brexit is a minimum of short-term OK (expectations are very low) then Colin has shown why DD would probably be next leader with no contest. The Brexit benefits are long-term and require Centre-Right govt to make a success of them but voters (especially those with a shorter understanding of time) overly focus on the short-term so one hurdle at a time!
    ii/ If Brexit is frustrated by LAB and it doesn’t end well then CON will lose the next election for sure. SMogg has the benefit of being baggage free and appealing to a dangerous fringe (not dissimilar to Corbyn). He could be a useful leader while in opposition – spinning the failure of Brexit on LAB’s success in frustrating the process.

    So DD leads into next election if CON can win. SMogg leads into next election if CON heading for opposition. I’m not a fan of SMogg but being leader whilst in opposition should give him time to back away from the silly stuff (comparison to Corbyn again??).
    The main difference between Corbyn and SMogg is that Corbyn might be genuine and attempt to deliver on his beliefs – I never hold that expectation of any modern CON leader!!

  11. View from the Boundaries

    Talk about “Henry VIII powers” is muddled. H8 increased the power of the state, but the break with Rome was enshrined in statutes, as was E1’s religious setlement, which gave Parliament a tremendous increase in status & power.
    “Oliver Cromwell powers” would be more apposite as he altered Parliament every 5 minutes & ruled essentially by military force. His regime did not survive him, while the regimes of the other 2 rulers who disdained Parliament or tried to remodel the constituencies also collapsed (C1, J2).
    @ Hireton
    “Another interesting question re Rees Mogg is how he reconciles his support for the supranational authority of the Papacy and his British isolationism regarding the EU.”
    He could always repeal the Acts of Succession & Supremacy [1533-34].

  12. Alec, I was astonished to see what JRM said, surely he has ruled himself out as a possible replacement for TM?

    I wasn’t suprised by his views on equal marriage but his views on termination after rape are horrible.

  13. @MarkW

    You might think his views are horrible, but if I were a soc1al l1beral I would argue that being anti-gay marriage (and by extension homophobic, given the rigour of his logic) is worse than termination after rape. His views may be abhorrent to many, but he is consistent. He also managed to qualify his absolute stance on termination as “afraid so”. Tbh, I’m surprised that this has upset his chances so much, as he was hardly masquerading as David Cameron with more aristocratic eccentricity… was he?

  14. @robbiealive

    Not forgetting the Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome.

  15. Anyone know the DUP view on the NI Boundary Commission having to conduct a new review?

    Anthony makes no comment about the effect of the proposed change for the 6 counties.

  16. @robbiealive

    Actually the phrase Henry VIII powers strictly refers to the Statute of Proclomations 1539 which gave royal proclamations the force of statute without parliamentary involvement.

  17. Anthony,

    Is it just me (probably) or is there something odd about the numbers for the “important Issues” question on Page 3. of the Times Poll.

    I can’t figure why the overall importance of an issue can be substantially lower than in every subsample for some of the issues.


  18. Coventryfefe, I think both of JRM’s statements will alienate younger voters. Not what the conservatives should be doing.

    This may be his way of putting himself out of the running, cos he aint daft.

  19. Glad to see the number of back-bench MPs to check the executive not being reduced.

  20. @jim jam

    Yes agreed. The reduction to 600 would have meant the number of Ministers, PPS’s , and whips would have been almost equivalent to the number of backbench MPs.

  21. On Rees Mogg,

    As a Jungle Jim (CatholicI I share his faith but not his views.

    firstly where we agree is that like is sacred and that marriage is a Sacrement.

    It is of course also civil institution as Hireton said, but one doesn’t negate the other. One is “Gods” law the other “Mans”.

    I personally see the legal document as a necessary piece of legislation while the church bit as far more binding and important. I put more emphasis in making a vow before god to complying with the Act.

    I fully expect that the majority and an ever increasing one are far more concerned with the legality of their Marriage than what if any Church it was in.

    However on the same principle although I don’t favour abortion and agree with the sanctity of life, just because it isn’t a choice I would make doesn’t mean it’s a choice I would deny others.

    I get uneasy in the UK or indeed US when people try to use Laws to apply what they think are Gods wishes.

    After all Christ never compelled anyone to do anything. he urged and persuaded but he steered away from and indeed warned of emphasising the letter of the Law over the heart.

    I’d like to see a big drop in the abortion rate, but through more people making the choice not to have them rather than outlawing them or punishing those that do.

    Partly because i think that’s Gods way while Red Mogg seems to favour Mans.


  22. Alec
    If you knew anything about him you could have predicted his views on both. He is a strict Catholic and therefore his views are entirely predictable. Gay marriage is something still opposed by many of religious faith and quite a few who are not. Agreed a minority view in the UK now , but I believe Gay marriage has only become acceptable to the majority quite recently. I am not sure if there is adequate polling evidence either way.

    For what it’s worth I for one certainly made no adverse comment about Tim Farron for his deeply held religious convictions during the last election. That he more or less kept faith with his deepest beliefs I found rather admirable.


    “This may be his way of putting himself out of the running, cos he aint daft.”
    Indeed he isn’t from what I have seen and read. I think your comment is almost certainly correct.

  23. @jim jam

    Sorry post operative painkillers making my mind more fuzzy than usual! That should have read almost equivalent to government backbench MPs.

    We seldom agree on anything but I think your last post on abortion and gay marriage was excellent. I have no religion and so it is helpful reading the views of somebody who does, and has the same one as Rees-Mogg. For what it’s worth your position on both abortion and gay marriage seem admirable to me.

  25. Hireton – obvious what you meant but we do have one or pedants who could have pounced on you.

  26. ” For what it’s worth your position on both abortion and gay marriage seem admirable to me.”

    Well that’s ruined my day!!!!!


  27. @ Hireton “Statute of Proclo[a]mations”

    Thanks for that. It was repealed in 1547.
    Proclamations were needed: in emergencies, famines, fires & whatnot. But you may agree that nothing got monrachs like C I & James II in so much trouble as their use. The latter’s empolyment of them to circumvent the anti-Catholic laws was the proximate cause of his downfall?

  28. @ Jimjam “Glad to see the number of back-bench MPs to check the executive not being reduced.”

    & we are always being told MPs represent their constituents: the no of MPs static since ’45, while pop has gone up by 50% [it’s all them immigrants] & as for the complexity of laws affecting individuals . . . The pretexts that it saves money & makes Parliament more workable are drivel.

  29. We have had devolution Robbie with MSPs and AMs so 650 seems OK to me but I think we are on the same page in essence.

  30. Robbie
    So re:smog is really the MP for the 17th century, not the 18th !

  31. “We have had devolution Robbie with MSPs and AMs so 650 seems OK to me but I think we are on the same page in essence.”

    Good point! Thanks.
    One might comment that 85% of the UK pop is in undevolved England, whose pop has increased by nearly 50% since ’45. But agreed 650 is enough.

    Must go now to compose Leavers’ & Remainers’ marching songs.

    While the site sees interminable bickerings between the two camps, in fact, underneath there is agreement that things are not going well. Inadequate negotiators, weak PM, divided opposition, hung Parliament — what a mess.

  32. @” i think that’s Gods way while Rees Mogg seems to favour Mans.”

    I would put that the other way around.

    It seems to me that if Rees Mogg & Peter CAirns interpret the God given Law of their particular religion as ” All life is Sacred”-then it is Rees Mogg who is applying that to all life .Peter CAirns applies it to some life -but not all-because he thinks that some people are entitled to ignore that Godly edict. This is very much a Man made exception.

    I am not burdened with the problems of Theological Teaching . I also think there is far too much abortion. 200,000 “lives” pa terminated-most of them by 18-24 year old women , and for reasons including risk to “mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.”. Around 40% were for women who had already had one abortion. This feels too much like abortion on demand as afterthought contraception to me.

    The statistic which upsets me most is the 700 Down’s Syndrome lives which are ended each year in UK.

    But unlike Rees Mogg I think that some foetuses are so badly impaired, and some pregnant women in distress which was imposed on them by force , that there are grounds for termination.

    Parliament is the place where our MPs attempt to resolve these awful social questions . So it is where Man’s Law is decided-with all the compromises that involves. It is no place for the strict implementation of God’s Law ( if for no other reason than that there are many versions of God’s Law) .

    So Rees Mogg cannot possibly be Prime Minister-so Conservative members would be mad to appoint him Party Leader.

  33. Surely there must be some elements in the remain leaning Tory cohort who think a period of opposition at this time might be helpful.

    With no obvious leader who can expand their appeal to take over from May, and the risk that the Brexit process will be perceived as an unmitigated disaster, with the Tories held responsible for it by a large section of the electorate, wouldn’t it be better to drop the Labour party in it?

    Obvs the Brexiteers want to stay in power come what may to ensure it happens, but those who are not inherently of that persuasion must be concerned about the parties longer term electoral fortunes.

  34. @ RJW
    “So re:smog is really the MP for the 17th century, not the 18th !”

    Well neither really! as I don’t see how a true Catholic could have taken the oath of allegiance & they were barred from 1672 to 1829. Peel, the the greatest Conservative, fashioned emancipation in 1829, which he loathed, as he possessed a sense of reforming realism somewhat lacking in many of his descendents.

  35. Colin

    “Parliament is the place where our MPs attempt to resolve these awful social questions . So it is where Man’s Law is decided-with all the compromises that involves. It is no place for the strict implementation of God’s Law ( if for no other reason than that there are many versions of God’s Law) .”

    Very eloquent and correct.

  36. I’d like to briefly flag that many arguments being put forward here are predicated on the slightly odd idea that life begins at conception, before requesting that we all steer clear of the abortion debate – it can’t end rationally.

  37. Robbiealive

    Wasn’t there an act that made church administered marriage compulsory (mainly for tax reasons) in the first half of the 1700s?


    Social history, when it stretches well beyond generational memories, is interesting – in 1550 less than 20% of the French cohabiting peasant households were confirmed in church as husband and wife. In the peasant revolts of the 14th century the monks who joined the movement found that the overwhelming majority of children were not baptised, so they were doing that, and also marrying couples.

  38. @ REDRICH – the hypothesis that CON wanted to lose the election (now that they want to lose power) is pretty old – I expect you ask it as a rhetorical question.

    The main issue is the multiple dimensions of how we operate as a democracy – you have to pick a party as a package weighing up your personal pros and cons for each of the key elements.

    Brexit was supposed to be non-partisan with only LD and UKIP really nailing their colours to a fixed view – CON (and to a lesser extent LAB) fought both sides. CON and LAB both intended to respect democracy and combined won 85% of the vote in the GE.

    The recent YouGov poll showed the priority list for current voters and Brexit is currently highest priority for all (but highest for CON) but NHS, etc get high scores as well. Also polls give indication on which party/leader voters trust to be best at each priority (May for Brexit, LAB for NHS, etc)

    The GE shuffled voters to put an even larger proportion of Remain into LAB VI and Leave into CON VI but for many voters in each party I’m sure Brexit is not there sole concern – polls show CON VI with some Remain voters, LAB VI with some Leave voters (even LD VI has some Leave voters although they might be Bregretters and the crossbreak is tiny).

    Without over generalising LAB have always been the party for a larger state presence, higher taxes and increased spending (the shift from Centre-Left to Far-Left has added back in renationalisation and reunionisation). CON have always been the party for smaller state presence, lower taxes and lower spending.
    Those tribal loyalties run high on established voters, less so on younger voters but at each election the new/swing voters are up for grabs when either people’s priority weightings change and/or people’s belief in who is the better leader/party to deliver their priorities changes (e.g. soft CON’s switched to Blair back in the day, Remainers thought they would have more success backing LAB/Corbyn rather than the more obvious choice of LD/Farron)

    Brexit is but one dimension. For many voters other factors weigh higher. Post mortem GE polls showed the main reason behind people’s vote with all the party crossbreaks, etc and showed Brexit as a much lower factor behind vote than the priority Brexit had from 2-3mths before the GE and current levels).

    As a generalisation:
    Far-left LAB want Brexit and want Corbyn as PM. Moderate LAB (Blairites) want to stop Brexit but want LAB to be in power.
    For CON, most want Brexit and want to hold onto power. I expect the few CON MPs that would rather not have Brexit put holding onto power above their Brexit view (e.g. Soubs)


    Good comment re government benches but it would impact on opposition benches in a similar way and even more so on smaller parties.

    Lab’s awkward squad brought Callaghan down* and with any luck, so could May’s.

    * As he acknowledged himself

  40. Kester Leek
    Amen to your last comment.

  41. @MARKW

    Many Tories are social conservatives, I don’t think it has done him harm with Tory voters, Look at the leaver versus remain on social conservative versus social liberal attitudes.

    There are many people whom voted leave whom would vote for him. lastly over half the Tory MP voted against marriage equality. We seem to forget

    The EU referendum is as much a proxy for many different views coming to the for it has defined a number of splits in the country, what is interetsing is that we are so equally divided

  42. @Lazslo “Wasn’t there an act that made church administered marriage compulsory (mainly for tax reasons) in the first half of the 1700s?”
    Don’t know much about marriage: you may be thinking of Hardwicke’s Act, ca. 1750 which was about regulation not tax.
    But you are right that lower-order marriages were v flexible, eg. common-law ones. [The latter were prevalent in Scotland.]

    The problem is? that we only know about elite marriages.
    Maybe novelists get at things better than historians: George Sand, not much read these days, wrote stories about French rural 19th cent marriages, showing the vigour of their own boisterous, peasant rituals, faux kidnapping of the bride & so forth.

  43. @Trevor Warne

    Personally I think they will collectively try and cling on to power for as long as possible.

    The PLP was relatively far more pro-Reamin than their Tory counterparts – approx. 95% pro-remain as to approx. 60% pro for the Tories. Not sure how many of the Tory remainers lost there seats or how many had been closet brexiters but due to loyalty to Cameron supported remain, but potentially up to 50% of Tory MP’s could possibly be described as brexit skeptic. But I doubt they feel strongly enough about it to be prepared to give up power, even in the short term.

  44. PTRP,

    Yes, JRM may be very popular with a group within the party, but I doubt his ideas will be more widely appreciated.

  45. @Barbazenzero

    ‘….and with any luck, so could May’s’

    If I remember correctly, realistically it would take an above average annual rate of by-elections and for the deal with the DUP to unravel for govt to fall.

    If some of the awkward squad sabotage the deal with the DUP they could precipitate it- but I don’t think they are currently inclined to do so.

  46. @MarkW

    Yes, JRM may be very popular with a group within the party, but I doubt his ideas will be more widely appreciated

    If I could pick the next Tory leader he is one I would go for ;-)

  47. Robbie Alive
    Your comments about common ground do not apply to every Leaver who posts here. I am happy with the UK’s negotiating strategy so far and very happy with David Davis as our lead negotiator.

  48. Redrich,

    Yes, lols.

    When the time comes for new Conservative leader I suspect a new face will emerge, well I would be hoping for that if I was a conservative supporter.

  49. @MarkW

    However, he could turn out to be a Tory version of JC – I can just see a generation of university students wearing JRM t-shirts.

    You are probably right – cant see the Tories being that stupid.


    I agree re the Cons but I do not believe that the DUP will allow May to agree to a hard border or an Irish Sea one unless their UDA chums have decided to approve direct rule from from London and trashing the Belfast Agreement.

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