Archive for the 'Boundary Reviews' Category


To add to the febrile political mix – next week’s boundary changes cutting 50 MPs

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

One thing I think is for sure – there’ll be no move to remove the diminished TMay next week. MPs will be mostly focused on the position their own seats and the impact of revised boundary plans.

Although not implemented in 2015 the law reducing the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs is still in force and the Boundary Commission has been going through the process of redrawing the boundaries with the aim of bringing them up to date and implementing the reduction in the size of the Commons.

The plans drawn up for the 2015 election and not used have been outdated.

Inevitably there will be some winners – sitting MPs who’ll see their patch becoming even safer and some losers – those who could see their time in Parliament being terminated.

In these matters MPs tend to look first at their own individual situation rather than what’s best for their party or even the country.

A danger for Mrs.May is that it could create a group of disgruntled Tory MPs who might feel they have nothing to lose in helping to curtail her political career.

    An even bigger danger for the government is what is proposed for Northern Ireland. The earlier proposals had it that the DUP would end up with fewer MPs than Sinn Fein – something that might change their view of their support for the minority Tory government.

Wales is particularly hard hit by the changes losing a quarter of its 40 MPs.

The reduction in the number of MPs was enacted six years ago during the coalition but the original boundary changes were not implemented. The LDs blocked the move in retaliation for the backbench Tory rebellion on the progress of the House of Lords reform Bill that would have made it into an elected chamber.

It is possible that the final plans don’t get through the Commons or that the law is changed to keep the House at it current size.

Mike Smithson


As the DUP prepare to back CON on the Queen’s speech here’s the implied GE17 result under new boundaries

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Electoral Calculus

Will Team Arlene vote to make them Northern Ireland’s 2nd party

One of the issues likely to come up next year is the boundary review and the reduction of Commons seats from 650 to 600 MPs. Martibn Baxter of the Electoral Calculus has produced the above projection of the implied GE17 based on the latest proposals. I thought it timely to publish this given that the DUP will be voting with the Tories this evening ensuring the successful passage of the Queen’s Speech.

As can be seen Baxter’s implied result has the current top dogs in NI politics, the DUP slipping back to seven seats while Sinn Fein see an increase to nine.

Given the contentious nature of the boundary review which has to be approved by the Commons I wonder what the DUP will do.

Can’t see the DUP being very happy.

Mike Smithson


On top of LAB polling woes first analysis of the new boundaries suggests LAB will need vote lead of 13.5% to get a majority

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Bling 2

The Tories only need a 1.9% margin

YouGov’s Anthony Wells who runs UK Polling Report had produced his first analysis of the planned new boundary changes and the outcome is excellent for the Tories and terrible for Labour.

The analysis also has the LDs down to just four MPs.

I’m just on my way home from the Political Studies Association Awards in London and I’ll do more on this when I’ve had time to look at this in greater detail.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn and the boundary review: not the disaster for LAB that it is but an opportunity for the hard left

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


Joff Wild is puzzled by the half-hearted response of Corbyn’s team. It’s as if they don’t care

The only question from a Labour perspective about the result of the Parliamentary constituency review for England and Wales is just how bad it will be for the party. The most optimistic prognosis I saw was from Paul Waugh in the Huffington Post, who reported that under the new boundaries the Tories would lose 17 seats and Labour would lose 23. But probably more realistic is the assessment provided by Anthony Wells, who put losses at 28 for Labour, 10 for the Tories, four for the Liberal Democrats and one for the Greens. Either way, though, the Conservatives – elected on just under 37% of the vote last year – would have won an even larger overall majority on the new boundaries than they actually managed to.

As a supporter of PR for all my adult life – who believes that the Commons is not there to reflect the results of a series of one-off, winner takes all contests, but the votes of the electorate – the boundary review was always going to be depressing. As a Labour supporter, it fills me with despair. One estimate I saw yesterday was that with Scotland lost to the SNP, to win an overall majority of one at the next general election, the party would need to make 92 gains in England and Wales – something that would involve gaining Tory seats with notional five figure majorities.

Given this, you would expect a full-on assault from the Labour leadership on what has been announced and a detailed strategy to challenge the outcome. There is plenty of raw meat to play with: the review focused on registered voter numbers, not on overall populations; even then, two million additional people who registered to vote in the EU referendum have not been included; as a result of the review the Prime Minister gets the largest notional majority of any MP in the country, while the Leader of the Opposition’s seat is abolished; and, because of first past the post, it will be even easier for the Tories to win overall majorities on even lower percentages of the vote. Of course, there are cases to be built against all of these claims, but for a determined, motivated, well-led organisation there is a lot to get its teeth into and to galvanise concerted opposition. That brings me to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leadership knew that the review results were due to be announced on 13th September, it knew that the outcome was not going to be good for Labour and it knew that yesterday was a major opportunity to begin to frame the consultation period debate. The Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Chancellor and the rest of the Labour front bench could and should have been ready with a powerful message of defiance and a detailed plan to do everything possible to ensure that the final outcome is as positive for Labour as possible. But what we got was a brief statement from Jon Ashworth – who almost no ordinary voter has heard of – and individual reactions from some MPs.

For his part, Jeremy Corbyn pretty much confined himself to expressing disappointment and anger that his own constituency is set to go. Instead of outrage, a prominent Corbyn supporter and newly-elected member of the NEC went onto Radio 4 to say that the review is a chance to get rid of MPs who have not shown sufficient loyalty to the leader; Corbyn has made similar noises in the recent past, of course. In reality, Labour rules (unless changed) mean that mass deselection is highly unlikely; but the very strong impression given was that for many of those around Jeremy Corbyn, and by implication for the man himself, the boundary review is not a disaster for Labour, but a great opportunity to eliminate difficult customers and to consolidate control of what remains of the PLP after the next general election.

In my last Political Betting article I said that although Jeremy Corbyn is set to win the Labour leadership election comfortably, in the end his manifest inability to do the job and to unify will lead to his downfall. A lot of Labour members still giving him the benefit of the doubt, I said, will see how he performs over the coming couple of years and will reach the same conclusion that the majority of Labour’s pre-September 2015 membership already have: Corbyn is a disaster with an agenda that does not include leading Labour to victory at the next general election. That will become clear in the way he interacts with the PLP, in his handling of the Brexit debate, in his non-compliance with party policy on issues such as Trident, in his opposition to NATO and in his ongoing refusal to engage with the millions of voters who do not see the world in the way he does, not to mention his past support for the IRA, Hamas et al and his paid work for the Iranian theocracy. We can now add to that list his reaction to the boundary review.

Owen Jones – an influential though not uncritical supporter of Jeremy Corbyn – wrote an impassioned piece for the Guardian denouncing the boundary review. “Our ancestors fought for our democratic rights and freedoms. It would be an insult to this great British tradition if we now remained silent while a political party stitched up the rules in an attempt to keep itself in power forever,” he concluded. Jones, like hundreds of thousands of other Labour members, is about to discover that Jeremy Corbyn is much less bothered about this issue than he is. That will have consequences.

Joff Wild posts on Political Betting as SouthamObserver. Follow him on Twitter at @SpaJW


The boundary review is so favourable to CON because Cam/Osbo defied the Electoral Commission to fix it that way

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


The former Top Tory Two have left TMay a great legacy

There’ve been two major changes to the electoral system that the Tories have brought which have combined together to make the boundary review so favourable to them.

The first is the introduction of individual voter registration which has had the effect of seeing that millions of names on the electoral roll had initially been lost. The second is the introduction of equal sized constituencies.

The big question was when you set the initial voter count for your starting point for the boundary review. The Electoral Commission wanted that to have been the end of 2016 to allow the initial impact of individual voter registration to have sorted itself out.

Cameron/Osborne insisted that this should be December 2015 which means that voter numbers used for the boundary calculation are something like 2m short of what they are today. The seats most affected are those with large numbers of younger people who have been most hit by the registration rule changes.

This went through Parliament in October 2015. There was an attempt in the Lords to keep to the Electoral Commission timetable but that failed by 11 votes due to what appeared to be a whipping cock-up on the Labour side.

There were two votes. The first on the amendment was a defeat for the Tories. Then, inexplicably, on the amended motion some LAB peers appeared to have slipped away and the Tory move got through.

Now those behind the overall plan are gone and Mrs May is the beneficiary.

Mike Smithson


First projection of new boundaries suggests that at GE2015 the CON vote share of 36.9% would have given it a majority of 40

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

This compares with the 12 they actually achieved

Well done to UK Polling Report’s Anthony Wells for the speed he has got his boundary projection out.

Based on ward by ward his computation of the proposals Wells projects the above changes in the reduced size parliament. As can be seen LAB are the biggest losers and in relative terms the Tories are the big winners. The LDs would lose half their GE2015 seats and out would go the only GRN MP in Brighton.

The overall number of seats is being cut from 650 to 600.

The Tories are helped massively by the fact that the constituency electorate sizes are based on what they were last December when there were about 2 million fewer names on the electoral register.

Mike Smithson


The Boundary Review: Round-up

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


The Boundaries of Wales : 1950 – 2010

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Where the total seats are being slashed from 40 to 29

The boundary changes to be announced tonight (and to the MP’s from England and Wales today) will see the first reduction in the number of seats in Wales since the Great Reform Act of 1832 and see Wales be reduced from forty seats to just twenty nine (it’s lowest number since the Great Reform Act) and will the be fifth set of boundary changes since true democracy (one elector, one vote) was introduced in 1950

Wales 1950 – 1970
Welsh Constituencies 1950 - 1970

The boundaries that were introduced for the 1950 general election saw the number of seats in Wales remain unchanged at 36, but saw the abolition of the University of Wales seat and the sole remaining borough seat in Caernarfon (made up of the towns of Bangor, Caernarfon, Conwy, Pwllheli and the Nefyn) making each constituency elected by everyone in that constituency. Amongst the constituency changes, the Caernarfon county seat was split into two (Caernarfon and Conwy), Flint was split into a Flint East and Flint West and there were some cosmetic changes to the South Wales valley seats.

Wales 1974 – 1979
Welsh Constituencies 1974 - 1979

The 1974 boundary changes were more a tidying up operation compared to the 1950 changes. Newport met with up Pontypool (leaving an enclave of Monmouth sandwiched between Newport and Cardiff), the Rhonddas were merged into a single Rhondda and Neath lost some land to the Gower as did Llanelli.

Wales 1983 – 1992
Welsh Constituencies 1983 - 1992

The 1983 boundary changes were ruthless. The Denbigh seat was carved up into Clwyd South West, Conwy was shrunken to accommodate the new Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (hived out of the old Merioneth), Flint East was reunited with it’s partner the other side of Wrexham and the two became the new Wrexham and Alyn and Deeside. Cardiganshire dived into Pembrokeshire and became Ceredigion and Pembroke North. Newport was split into two allowing Monmouth to become whole again and the South Wales valleys were put into some semblance of order.

Wales 1997 – 2005
Wales Constituencies 1997 - 2005

For the 1997 boundary changes it was Clwyd and Dyfed that felt the Boundary Commissioner’s force. Clwyd South West and Clwyd North West were craved up again into Clwyd West, Vale of Clwyd and Clwyd South. In Dyfed Carmarthen was split into two (East and Dinefwr, West and Pembrokeshire South) as was Pembrokeshire (Preseli) with Ceredigion returning to it’s pre 1983 shape.

Wales 2010 – present
Wales Constituencies 2010 - present

And in 2010, it was Gwynedd’s turn as the arrangement of Ynys Môn, Conwy, Meirionnydd and Caernarfon was scrapped and replaced by Ynys Môn, Aberconwy (diving deep into Meirionnydd), Arfon (the area around Bangor) and Dwyfor Meirionnydd (which combined Caernarfon with the remainder of Meirionnydd).

So seeing how much Wales has changed upwards since 1950, what will the Boundary Commissioners do now? Well, one thing is for sure. Eleven seats have to go and according to the electorate date published at the start of this process, of the top twenty five smallest electorates in the United Kingdom twenty of them are in Wales (Arfon, number 3, 37,915, Carmarthen East, number 24, 54,357). The map of Wales from 2020 onwards will be completely unrecognisable to anyone bar those time travellers from 1832!

Once the Boundary Commissioners have made their initial recommendations for England and Wales , I will publish a link to a my Google Drive which will contain a spreadsheet that will list every ward in England and Wales, their electorate and what constituency they are in at the moment. I am hoping that in a mass effort of crowdsourcing, members will fill in what constituencies the wards are proposed to be in and make a note of how many electors from each old seat are in which new seat and the proportion of the old seat (for instance 27,000 electors from Birmingham, Edgbaston (% of Birmingham, Edgbaston) and 16,000 electors from Birmingham, Yardley (% of Birmingham, Yardley) can be found in the new constituency of Birmingham, Handsworth) so that by the time Scotland announces on October 8th, it should be possible to create a whole new map of Britain by the end of October

Harry Hayfield