Boundary changes resulting from cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600 could exacerbate Labour divisions as well as boosting the Tories.
The Guardian are reporting that leading psephologist and former Tory MP Lord Hayward has looked at the forthcoming boundary review/reduction in the number of MPs,
Two hundred Labour seats – more than 85% of the party’s total – could be affected by the review of parliamentary boundaries due next month, according to a detailed analysis of the review’s likely impact.
Up to 30 Labour seats could disappear altogether, says Lord Hayward, an analyst widely regarded as an expert on the boundary review, while the rest will see their composition altered in some form.
Although the changes will also affect the Conservatives, Hayward, a Tory peer, said his analysis of demographics in the UK concluded that Labour is over-represented.
“The party that will suffer most is the Labour party because such a high proportion of their current seats are well below the required quota, particularly in Wales, the north-east and parts of the M62 corridor,” he said.
The changes, initiated by David Cameron, which will cut the number of MPs by 50 to 600, aims to ensure that each person’s vote is of similar value by equalising the number of registered voters in each constituency to within 5% of 74,769. A higher proportion of Tory seats are currently within the range, so only between 10 and 15 of the party’s seats are expected to disappear.
MPs of all parties face the prospect of battling it out with colleagues to retain a seat, but anxieties will be particularly acute within Labour, where anti-Corbyn MPs fear that the necessary reselection contests could be an opportunity to reshape the parliamentary party in Corbyn’s favour, if he retains the leadership. “This will have implications for large numbers of Labour MPs who may well have to compete against each other for reselection,” Hayward added.
I suspect this will be main reason Mrs May decides against an early election, notwithstanding the intricacies of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, an early election will deny her and the Tories a boost from the boundary review.
Although some might argue the cherry on the parfait will be the potential of many Labour MPs facing re-selection because of the boundary changes, it will be like the mandatory re-selections that many close to Jeremy Corbyn have been arguing for.
My own view if that does happen, it might force Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn to do something more radical if they are likely to be replaced to someone more politically in tune with Jeremy Corbyn, and that will split the Labour party further and wider than we’ve already seen.