Despite the Liberal Democrats saying they intend to vote against its implementation the boundary commissions are still legally obliged to continue with the boundary review process and tonight the English boundary commission release their revised proposals. Given the unlikelihood of them coming to pass they may end up being more of academic interest than anything else, but they are available for perusal on the BCE’s website here.

Unlike the Scottish Commission, whose revised proposals had mostly very minor changes, the English Commission have made some substantial changes from their original proposals. Some of the oddities in the provisional recommendations have been altered. For example, Sutton Coldfield is now in a single seat, Leigh now remains in Leigh, Salford and Eccles has been resurrected, the ludicrous Mersey Banks seat is confined to just one of the banks of the Mersey, Henley no longer has the inaccessible Radley ward added onto it (actually, it does!), the proposed Gloucester seat does now include Gloucester City centre.

The English Boundary Commission has accepted the use of split wards… but only in Gloucester (in order to get around the problem of Gloucester City centre). Most observers had expected the most likely split wards to be in Cheshire, where the cumbersome ward boundaries the Commission was sticking to have actually already been abolished. In the event the Commission stuck with them.

Looking at some other interesting changes, the strange pairing of Edmonton & Chingford in North-East London has been abandoned, although Iain Duncan Smith’s seat still gets carved up, and the new Chingford would still be a marginal. Instead of crossing the Lea Valley the new proposals join Bethnal Green with Shoreditch and Tottenham Hale with Edmonton.

In the South East Eastleigh returns, as does a Romsey seat. Brighton Pavilion is back, but is notionally Labour on the new boundaries, and Lewes is resurrected as Lewes and Uckfield, although the new seat would be notionally Conservative.

North Yorkshire, where all the existing seats are within quota and could have been left alone, is now left alone. David Davis’s seat is still abolished, being divided between Goole and Hull West. Grimsby is now split between two seats – Grimsby North and Barton and Grimsby South and Cleethorpes. Both would be notionally Conservative.

The name of Nadine Dorries’s Mid-Bedfordshire seat returns, but the seat doesn’t really – the proposed Mid-Bedfordshire and Harpenden seat is mostly made up of the old Hitchen and Harpenden. George Osborne’s Tatton hadn’t really gone anywhere either, but is once again called Tatton. Malcolm Rifkind’s Kensington seat is back. The new Hampton seat is actually mostly made up of Vince Cable’s Twickenham seat, and will have a solid notional Lib Dem majority, so he would have somewhere to go too. There are plenty of other substantial changes across the country.

The overall partisan effect of the revisions is to make the proposed boundaries slightly better for the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives than those originally proposed. The Liberal Democrats would have notionally won 4 more seats in 2010 than on the original proposals, the Conservatives 3 more seats, Labour 7 fewer. I will put up full notional figures in the next couple of days once I’ve been through and checked them all. Essentially though, depending on what the Welsh commission produce next week it looks likely that these boundaries would have delivered a Conservative majority at the 2010 election.

The boundaries now go out for another round of public consultation, after which the boundary commissions will make further changes or confirm them as their final recommendations. They are due to report by October 2013 at the latest, though given their progress so far they may well be done sooner. After that they submit their reports to the Secretary of the State (ironically enough, Nick Clegg in this instance) who must lay them before the House of Commons and then put a draft Order in Council before the House to implement them… at which point it looks likely that the Commons will vote them down, and the next election will be fought on the old boundaries.

The Liberal Democrats are adamant that they will vote against the boundaries. The Conservatives continue to say they believe that some sort of deal may be possible. We shall see. What we do know is that unless primary legislation is passed to prevent it, the Parliamentary vote on the boundaries is unavoidable.

UPDATE: I have put the notional figures online as a Google spreadsheet here. This is a first draft, so I can’t vouch for it being perfect yet – let me know if there is anything that looks downright wrong!

UPDATE2: Made a few corrections to the notionals for Basingstoke, North West Hampshire and Ludlow and Leominster. These are still draft figures, so if anyone else spots anything odd please let me know.

239 Responses to “Revised boundary recommendations for England”

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  1. Colin

    I fully accept that the position on multipliers is hazy. In which case, it is utterly incredible that the OBR doesn’t investigate the robustness of their conclusions against a range of multiplier values.

    By the way, the IMF report last week did NOT give a single, one size fits all multiplier figure. It gave a range of figures. The lowest was higher than the figure that the OBR is still sticking to.

  2. I feel a little sorry for Robert Chote, who, after building up a hard-won reputation at the IFS, has trashed it at the OBR.

    But the problem that the OBR has is not merely that they have been wrong – a lot of people have been wrong – but quite how wrong they have been, the way they have been wrong, their excuses for being quite so wrong, and how important it was that they were not this wrong.

    And, worst of all, there have been high-profile voices saying, with evidence and reasons, that they were wrong, and why. Those critics have been right all along.

    This brings us on to a serious, and building issue for the Tories, and their nightmare on a number of levels.

    That issue is that Ed Balls was, and remains, broadly correct and George Osborne wrong. Balls is, to say the least, not everyone’s cup of tea, and so it has been easy for the Government to paint him as a villain who can’t be trusted. But the longer the Treasury gets the economy wrong and Balls’ predictions remain true, the less that will wash with the public.

    I feel that Cameron’s best chance to win the election is to ditch Osborne. It would lance two boils – first, the fading Tory claim to economic competence – a problem that the Tories have struggled with since 1992. Second, it would put to bed any allegations that Cameron is weak or dithery when it comes to underperforming chums. It could change the game.

    I doubt Osborne is very keen to lay down his political life for his party, though.

  3. LEFTY

    THe OBR report -in the place I mentioned-says:-

    “Given many of these uncertainties, the
    interim OBR’s chosen multipliers continue to be broadly in the middle of a very wide range of views”

    I realise that you want multipliers to be as big as possible-so that your chosen approach supports the view that cutting public spending crashes an economy.

    …..have you ever looked at Sweden’s public finances & economy since their banking crisis in the early 1990s?

    Sadly GO cannot arrange , in retrospect to do what Sweden did & have it’s Banking crisis before everyone else had theirs-but I do look for signs that he might take to wearing a pony-tail & an earring. :-)

  4. tingedfringe

    On overly optimistic forecasts – I don’t understand why a government would seek overly optimistic forecasts (if that is what has happened).
    Overly optimistic forecasts are good headlines in the short-term, but you will always miss the forecasts so you’ll end up damaged.
    Surely it’s better to go with a slightly pessimistic model so that you can always run the narrative of, ‘We’re doing better than planned!’?

    Well in theory you ought to be right, but you’re ignoring the way the news cycle plays. The headlines go to the prediction not the reality. Speculation is cheap and easy; verification takes time, effort, knowledge, care and worst of all patience.

  5. @Chris Riley

    Balls did indeed call it right post 2010 – but then so did just about every economist who could be regarded as tending towards the left. So it’s very difficult to imagine any Shadow Chancellor taking a different macroeconomic stance to Balls over the past two years. But unfortunately it’s hard to imagine any who would have been so encumbered by past baggage. He also, IMO, seems to be acting as a brake rather than a catalyst to Labour developing a coherent alternative economic and fiscal approach of any substance.

    For various reasons, Balls remains a significant drag on Labour’s polling. To echo your comment about Osborne, I feel that Miliband’s chances of winning the election would be significantly enhanced by ditching Balls, and about now would be the optimal time.

  6. All this criticism of the OBR is absurd.

    To say they should have been able to forecast the oil price, world commodity prices and the outcome of the Eurozone crisis – all of which were the reasons for the forecasting errors – is beyond ridiculous.

    As for saying they are “covering up for cuts”, the figures show government spending has been SUPPORTING growth recently, so that is baseless too.

    One of the main reasons Conservative VI is holding up so well is that the underlying internal UK economy, despite these massive headwinds from abroad in the form of high oil prices and the Eurozone crisis, is continuing its slow healing process. Unemployment is falling, retail sales are rising (car sales are exceptionally healthy) and living standards have stopped falling.

    The problem for the Lib Dems is that they continue to suffer from the political narrative about cuts, which Conservative voters probably don’t really care about since they probably don’t really value public services as much. I think Lib Dem voters (at least those from 2010) like public spending in general and unless Nick Clegg can show that policies on areas like education, health and benefits have improved rather than worsened matters (a tough ask), then he will not be able to win back the Labour defectors. Prolonging the cuts “story” to the end of this parliament and beyond risks making the chances of a Lib Dem revival ever smaller to the point of insignificance.

  7. Colin.

    I own a lab-based engineering company. I make my living from drawing robust conclusions from often sketchy and uncertain data. I have a responsibility to my clients to not lead them into a sense of false security. I have a duty to point out what the effects of drawing different conclusions might be.

    I fully accept that there is uncertainty on the issue of multipliers. Ideologically, I suspect that they are large. The IMF’s report last week seems to strongly support that belief.

    None of that is in any way germane to the nub of the issue here. Which is that the OBR has done everyone a dis-service by not clearly quantifying what the effect would be of using different magnitude multipliers. They have had a stab at a figure that they say more or less sits in the middle of a range (although that is highly contentious in itself – you won’t find many respected economists today who really think that multipliers are much less than 0.5). And they have effectively left it at that. They have then drawn a conclusion that Austerity is not a prime cause of our current woes.

    That is simply not acceptable. It would be a very simple job for them to sketch out different cases with different multipliers. They could then explain that, in a range of possible scenarios there is a distinct possibility that flat GDP is more or less ENTIRELY down to Austerity.

    THAT is what a genuinely competent and independent body would be doing. Instead, they have produced a report that draws what appear to be firm, but entirely unsupportable conclusions and which ignores the spread of outcomes.

    If I did that in my work, people would lose their lives. You see why I am rather annoyed about this?

  8. LEFTY


    Well-have you seen the unemployment figures?

    What can it all mean ? :-)

  9. What is all this debate on IMF/OBR stats ?

    Without studying all the reports issued, I am suspecting that the reports provided a lot of information, which is now being selectively used for a political football game ? I am right ?

    I don’t understand the point about the deficit in 2007/08 being higher than previously thought. Why is this the case ? What is being included to make the figure higher than previous estimates ? Without a full examination of the data and making comparisons, I am not sure this is worth debating on the back of a few newspaper articles which are politically driven.

  10. LEFTY

    @”Ideologically, I suspect that they are large.”

    Well that is honest .

  11. Colin

    Congratulations. You didn’t disappoint. Ignore the general argument and make a facile point instead.

  12. The capital markets will decide if the OBR is credible; personally I think the IMF and credit agencies are rather discredited too (see US rates after downgrading)
    Phil re Balls, You are right about his baggage which is a shame as I think he is one of the few politicians on both sides who understand Economics and the real choices available.
    You may recall that during the LOO Election he actually says he would have borrowed more than the Darling Plan in the shortv term and DM said he would have stuck to and EM appointing AJ initially was seen as him endorsing the Darling approach not Balls. By the time Balls replaced AJ enough time had elapsed for previous positions to be irrelevant. Not all left wingers were therefore aligned with Balls..

    Robert C (not Chote I assume) agree re difference between 2010 con voter and LD voters how 2010 LD split is imo the biggest single determinant of the 2015 result.

  13. @SoCalLiberal

    I have the debate here to watch:


    so will get back to you later… David Brooks (NYTimes) on our Today programme gave the advantage to Obama. He takes the view that the Romney quick-surge was likely to happen at some point because there are enough people who are looking for an excuse to fire the President (and I think the Obama campaign were expecting that), but it was one time event, unlikely to be repeated. From what I have seen so far the President reassured waverers last night.

    CA 36 was always going be a long shot, but it doesn’t stop me daydreaming about Ruiz and Waxman sharing some water-cooler moments next year.

  14. @Colin

    “What can it all mean ? ”

    That we’re turning into a low wage, part-time, underemployed self-employed, hell in a handcart economy?

    Traditionally, unemployment has been a lag indicator, reflecting econonomic activity a couple of quarters beforehand. So, to turn the question around, what do *you* suppose it means when we have negative growth yet there is an associated drop in unemployment?

  15. BBC is leading with unemployment drop and will help the Government I expect.

    In the end of the two narratives will win…the economy is being “healed” or the economy is being “trashed”.

    By middle of next year we should know!

  16. I must be really bad at telling who won a debate. I saw nothing special in the first debate at all that everyone is saying Romney won (72% to 28%)

    Then last night, I thought Romney did actually land a few hits and more people think Obama won by a narrow margin.

    Maybe my connection is messed up and I watched the 2nd one first and the first one second

  17. Surely we can all agree (regardless of political view) that it is good to see unemployment falling again, now below 8% and that the biggest gain in employment is among the young.

  18. ROBIN

    @”So, to turn the question around, what do *you* suppose it means when we have negative growth yet there is an associated drop in unemployment?”

    Well I’m not an expert so do not know.

    My guess is that it essentially revolves around two factors :-

    a) UK plc has retained labour , reducing hours rather than headcount.

    b) The GDP figures will be revised at some point in the future-to show flat lining , rather than double dip.

    If a) has any validity it could make GDP take-off , when it occurs quite rapid & steep, given the gearing available in the workforce.

    I suppose the other side of the coin is that the drop in unemployment might not be as steep as the growth rate of GDP ,in the initial stages of a sustained improvement in the economy.

  19. I watched the presidential debate.

    Obama won this time – also on expectations as Romney definitely did worse than in the first debate, Romney came across as a bit flacky I am not sure what he stands for as Obama kept pointing out his changes of position. He came across as well meaning but not particularily believable (IMO). Romney has some good lines such as pointing out what Obama has not done but at the end I am not sure I believed Romney actually had a coherent plan.

    Romney completely mishandled a good opportunity on Libya. And, Romney seems not just leaning towards more physical wars (Syria, Iran) but also a trade war with China. – None of which give me a comfortable feeling.

    The polls gave it to Obama and also the undecided voter audience.

    The reaction to Romney in the first debate reminded me of Cleggmania – which faded by the election. After this debate I think will see the polls move back towards Obama.

  20. @Colin

    “a) UK plc has retained labour , reducing hours rather than headcount.”

    Yes, this seems very likely, and was certainly the case for e.g. the car manufacturing industry

    “b) The GDP figures will be revised at some point in the future-to show flat lining , rather than double dip.”

    Any future revisions are likely to be very small. And it’s usually the case that ~2.5% growth is needed just to keep unemployment level, so flatlining would normally still be bad news for unemployment.

    “If a) has any validity it could make GDP take-off , when it occurs quite rapid & steep, given the gearing available in the workforce.”

    If this is true then the OBR is even more wrong than usual. Their recent report says that there has been a permanent hit to UK capacity (it’s the only way they can avoid saying that the lack of growth is due to lack of demand).

    Actually, I suspect that one factor is that a lot of the lost jobs are in areas which predominantly employ(ed) women. If I understand correctly how the figures are compiled, they will only show up if their partner is also unemployed, and if they don’t have a child under 16.

  21. Robert

    I predicted oil prices and broad commodity prices, I must be a better analyst than OBR

  22. And I told all the people here how the euro troubles would work out, but I was wrong in the timing cos I expected things to go faster. Really there are no excuses for the OBR

  23. “Multipliers”

    I think the root cause of the problem was getting rid of rote learning of the times-tables.


    Saw some: Obama clearly better – BUT Romney scares me. Having said that I was objective enough to think the Pres was pretty bad in the first debate.

  24. Oh dear the PM looked very rattled when Ed lambasted him over the Chief Pleb, sorry Whip.

    The guy has to go and is a complete liability.

  25. @NickP

    “Public spending is the ONLY way left for creating demand.”

    And the public are focussing on reducing their debt, so it will take a while. That’s why the economy is flat-lining, and it’s a sensible attitude, given that interests rates are low, so more money can be thrown at dealing with the capital.

  26. “Labour’s Chris Bryant asks why Cameron did not release all the text messages he exchanged with Rebekah Brooks.

    Cameron says that earlier this year Bryant quoted material from the Leveson inquiry that had not been made public. Some of that information about Cameron was untrue. Bryant has not apologiised. Cameron says that, because he hasn’t, he won’t respond to this question.”

    So Cameron is unable to simply state that they have no relevance, and has to hide behind a very flimsy excuse for not answering (why was he not made to answer?). That suggests to me that there is something to hide in those texts. This one could be a slow burner, and if it gets any traction (which it may do when Leveson reports) it is going to be very damaging for DC.

  27. @ Robert C

    I don’t think the Eurozone crisis was beyond prediction at all. IMHO it was entirely predictable and should have been factored in. Additionally there seemed to be a lack of ‘what happens to demand when inflation exceeds pay rises/interest on savings’ being factored into demand and growth.

  28. Today’s YouGov (or yesterday’s, as you will) shews a steadying of the polling ship, so we are thankfully back to normal (polling I mean, not the economy).

  29. @JimJam

    Balls might well have meant what he said. But he was looking for votes from a Labour Party membership/MP/union electorate when he made that statement. Darling was looking for “votes” from the financial markets by trying to (successfully, in terms of UK government bond markets up to May 2010) retain confidence in the ability of the last government to eventually rein in the deficit. FWIW I’d wager that Darling expected in time to moderate the planned rate/pace of spending cuts and even if not would certainly have done so in reaction to a deteriorating world economic context changed post 2010.

    Also, what I do vaguely recall from the LOO election is that Balls floated the idea of applying the 50% rate at well below the then threshold, yet now he seems to be reluctant to give a cast iron guarantee over the restoration of the 50% rate put in place by Darling, for reasons which entirely escape me. So perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into any statements that Balls made then.

  30. R HUCKLE

    @”I don’t understand the point about the deficit in 2007/08 being higher than previously thought. ”

    Is this the point DC mentioned at PMQ today?

    Apparently IMF quantified that proportion of the 07/08 Deficit which was “Structural”.
    EB had said there was no “structural” deficit then.

  31. @Colin

    You seem to have developed a habit over the past two years for being the first to draw our attention here to every tiny green shoot in the midst of the flood, always with the so far unfulfilled inference that it’s the first sign of an impending return to dry land/growth. Perhaps I exaggerate, and forgive me if I do, but any exaggeration is unintentional because that’s how it feels.

    If you keep it up, you’ll eventually be proved right, unless the economy flatlines or worse right up to 2015. But in the meantime, how do you evaluate your forecasting record to date? To set a very low bar for comparison, is it better or worse than the OBR’s?

  32. speaking purely economically, what is the best thing that the Government can hope for?

    Obviously we see some growth in Q3 & Q4 this year and then steady growth next year, with the private sector both absorbing unemployment and increasing exports.

    At the end of 2013 things would look rosy. Then they can start poll watching and start planning an unplanned coalition breakup.

    What’s the worst that can happen and still challenge for most seats next time? The same sort of thing but growth kicking and remaining steady some time next year. The longer it goes, the less likely to get a poll boost in time for May 2015.

    But the IMF is now saying that if growth doesn’t appear, the cuts programme needs to be delayed. Why would they be saying that if the rest of the year is going to go well?

    Germany’s figures looking worse apparently. That’s austerity for you, all those target markets for their exports are not spending. Not good. Solution? More cuts in other countries? I don’t think that’s working.

    Osborne seems to want to just let the dice fall and see if his gamble pays off.

  33. PHIL

    @”You seem to have developed a habit over the past two years for being the first to draw our attention here to every tiny green shoot in the midst of the flood,”

    Could you give me an example of a “tiny green shoot” in this regard?

    You are surely not saying that the run of improved unemployment figures is not worthy of comment?
    The tv news networks seem not to share that view.

    @”If you keep it up, you’ll eventually be proved right,”

    Anyone who thinks the economy will improve at some point will , as you say, be proved right.

    Timing is everything though on the political front.

    @”how do you evaluate your forecasting record to date? ”

    I don’t remember ever forecasting numbers.

    I think the economy will grow through next year & the following year.

    By how much -I know not.

    Whether it will be enough to change the current VI-I don’t know that either.

    But I think that no growth from here to 2015 will produce reasonably predictable political outcomes.

    I feel sure you would agree.

  34. Phil

    The difficulty for Miliband in getting rid of Balls (which I suspect he’d like to do) is that, er, Balls is good at his job.

    Cameron has, if he wishes, plenty of ammunition should he choose to dismiss Osborne for underperforming. Miliband doesn’t.

    And I doubt Miliband’s leadership would thrive with Ed Balls nursing an ever bigger sense of injustice and at a loose end. He’s hardly likely to leave the country in a Gould-esque fit of high dudgeon. What would Miliband do about Yvette Cooper for a start? The politics of such a move make it a non-starter

  35. NickP can’t we cut the waste and invest at the same time? Why do both parties insist on an either/or approach.

    There’s a lot of government waste, and the system needs root and branch reform so that money goes only where it’s needed. So it’s good the Cons are doing that.

    But what they aren’t doing is investing as others have said in Education and jobs, the things that will get us growing again.

    Cut the waste by all means, but reinvest that money in the people who need it and what the country needs.

  36. @”But the IMF is now saying that if growth doesn’t appear, the cuts programme needs to be delayed. Why would they be saying that if the rest of the year is going to go well?”

    They are saying what they have consistently said-that growth undershoot, should not be responded to with increased fiscal tightening to compensate-that stabilisers should be allowed to operate & timetables stretched.

    They also say lots of other things-about EZ banking union & bank capitalisation; about competitiveness & structural reform……..

    THe Forward finishes as follows :-

    “Therefore a new architecture must aim at reducing the amplitude of the shocks in the first place—
    at putting in place a system of transfers to soften
    the effects of the shocks. That architecture must aim
    at moving the supervision, the resolution, and the
    recapitalization processes for banks to the euro area
    level. It must decrease the probability of default by
    sovereigns, and were default nevertheless to occur,
    it must decrease the effects on creditors and on the
    financial system. It is good to see these issues being
    seriously explored and to see some of these mechanisms being slowly put together. In the short term, however, more immediate measures are needed. Spain and Italy must follow through with adjustment plans that reestablish competitiveness and fiscal balance and maintain growth. To do so, they must be able to recapitalize their banks without adding to their sovereign debt. And they must be able to borrow at reasonable rates. Most of these pieces are falling into place, and if the complex puzzle can be rapidly completed, one can reasonably hope that the worst might be behind us.
    If uncertainty is indeed behind the current slowdown, and if the adoption and implementation of these measures decrease uncertainty, things may turn out better than our forecasts, not only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world. I, for once, would be happy if our baseline forecasts turn out to be inaccurate—in this case, too pessimistic.”

    Olivier Blanchard
    Economic Counsellor

    ……and so far as IMF forecasts are concerned-their forecast for UK GDP growth next year is higher than for Germany or France.

  37. @Colin

    Unemployment is surely a lagging economic indicator rather than a leading one, at least that used to be the accepted view and I”m not aware that that view has changed. If we’d already returned to significant growth, we’d have known about it well before the unemployment and employment statistics started to change after the event.

    Clearly there’s a consistent discontinuity between the trends in GDP and anaemic public finances in the one hand, and the employment and unemployment data on the other. Various reasons have been given for that – part time/temporary/underemployed self employment is one reason, retained employment at lower productivity is another. But the fact that that trend has been well established over several years now is even more reason not to jump on more of the same as heralding a return to growth. To be fair, you didn’t actually say that so I may have misinterpreted your meaning.

    FWIW, my own view is that, apart from the other explanations, some of the trends in the unemployment data may simply be reflecting the fact that increasingly onerous conditions attached to claiming JSA as it’s turned into workfare make it not worth the candle for some. Being on a JSA-linked placement rules out the option of furthering long term career prospects through an internship – which are common now but almost unheard of when I was young. And also for a few there’s less opportunity to fiddle the system through concealed employment if required to be somewhere else as a condition of claiming benefit.

  38. Workfare should be abolished, it really is slavery and nothing more.

    I had to do 2 months stacking shelves at Asda for free, 32 hours a week, for 8 weeks, and I did my job well, (you can’t exactly stack shelves badly) and on the last day of my placement the manager thanked me for coming and wished me luck in the future, no job or anything at the end of it.

    I worked 256 hours of unpaid Labour (that’s more than a lot of community sentences)

    Even if I had only been paid minimum wage £5 an hour for my age, then I should have received £1,280 but no Asda got all that Labour for free.

    If Labour promise to end workfare in 2015 they will be assured my vote!

  39. PHIL

    @”If we’d already returned to significant growth,”

    I haven’t seen anyone claim that.

    The best interpretation is flatlining -thus far.

    @” there’s a consistent discontinuity between the trends in GDP and anaemic public finances in the one hand, and the employment and unemployment data on the other. ”

    Between the first & last of those three , certainly.

    I don’t know what “anaemic public finances” means.

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