Has the Boundary Commission just thrown Labour a lifeline?

David Cameron was clear. He wanted to reduce the number of parliamentary seats from 650 seats to 600.

Estimates varied, but Labour was set to be the big loser (quelle surprise) – holding more seats with smaller populations in urban areas – and some estimates suggested the party would forfeit up to 30 MPs.

However, hope springs eternal and now the Boundary Commission for England has announced that it is starting afresh, keeping the number of seats at 650.

In fact, ten new seats are to be created in England – mainly in the south east – coming at the expense of the north and midlands and Wales.

The commission will publish draft proposals for new seats in the summer with rounds of consultation next year before final proposals are submitted to Parliament in July 2023.

Tim Bowden, Secretary to the Boundary Commission, confirmed there is ‘likely to be a large degree of change across the country.’

Logically, this will delay the selection of parliamentary candidates, leaving as little as 18 months before the next general election to put candidates in place.

However, an election in winter 2024 is unlikely, so if we assume a spring or autumn date, candidates will have only been in place for between nine and 14 months.

This plays to the advantage of incumbent MPs – especially those Red Wall Tories – who can expect to have a built a profile in at least part of any new seats.

Yet, it could have been a far worse outcome for Labour and makes the mammoth task of winning the next election just that little bit smaller.

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10 Responses to “Has the Boundary Commission just thrown Labour a lifeline?”

  1. Anne says:

    We have council changes in my locality- meaning we have less councillors on the CC.
    Not sure where the new constituencies are to be, but did read something about trying to make them responsible for a defined number of people.
    There was an article in The Sunday Times regarding a poll undertaken in December – this stated that if a General Election was undertaken tomorrow then the outcome would be that The Tory Party would loose it’s majority but also that Johnson would loose his seat – more time for him to spend with Carrie and Wilfred

  2. A.J. says:

    What does any of this matter? To their shame, Labour are completely implausible as a ‘government-in-waiting’. It isn’t even as if Starmer has really taken a lead over Covid – and he and his wretched MPs appear to have zero interest in civil liberties or the multitude of health problems that will burden the NHS for years to come. Little concern for economic life, a pathetic hope that the Jewish problem will simply disappear (together with Momentum, I suppose), a supposition that gesture and identity politics are enough to win over increasing numbers of potential electors.
    No, let Labour struggle. This government is even more stupid than that of John Major, but Starmer is no Blair.
    By the way, have a look at Andy Beckett’s article in ‘The Guardian’ concerning Labour and ‘Englishness’.

  3. A.J. says:

    One can’t help noticing that there have been renewed calls (here and there) for proportional representation. Well, there would be, wouldn’t there, after a convincing ‘Conservative’ election win? Oh, yes, indeed. I suppose it should be up to the voters, though, to announce their displeasure with FPTP, not the wishy-washy hacks of the left-wing newspapers. Amusing, though, to recall the way Blair ran rings round Lord Jenkins and Paddy Pantsdown: drinking Woy’s claret whilst promising much increased political influence; knowing that he could never get PR or any form of Labour’non-Labour piddling past Brown, Straw and Prescott. Naughty boy, that Tony. Clever, though. Outsmarted the Alliance (or whatever daft name it was going by at the time).
    So, the perceived ‘anti-Tory’ majority in the country may just have to carry on, in the coarse words of the mass media, ‘sucking it up’. AV died in the ditch. Any thoughts?

  4. A.J. says:

    In order to win a General Election – the only poll that matters – Labour will need to retrace its steps, go over old ground, revisit the past and try to gain some understanding of where it went wrong, why it continues to go wrong, and why the so-called ‘Conservative Party’ generally keeps on winning even when led by charlatans like Johnson and non-entities like Hancock. It might win, of course, if Johnson becomes too smug, decides to throw in the towel or invites Putin to become Home Secretary – but that would really mean the ‘Tories’ losing rather than hats and knickers thrown in the air for Starmer, accompanied by folk-dancing and Prosecco-guzzling in the streets of Islington.
    Pay close attention to the final third or so of John Campbell’s excellent biography of Roy Jenkins and you will find some of the answers. Pay close attention to Bernard Donoghue’s account of his time with Wilson and Callaghan and you will find more of the answers. Think back to the final weeks and months of New Labour under Gordon Brown and everything should become clear – even without resurrecting in your memories the period between 2016 and the defenestration of John Bercow.
    Some bod in ‘The Spectator’ reckons Starmer might win – but not (truly) the Labour Party. Whoops.
    Some blame Blair, some Brown, others Corbyn. Some even blame the likes of Tony Crosland and the Hampstead trendies.
    The left-of-centre vote remains divided: Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Green, Plaid. The right-of-centre (for what’s worth) is simply less divided. Hence it tends to win, no?

  5. A.J. says:

    Boundaries and wishful thinking aside, every time anyone on the Labour side, from Toynbee and Jones to Duffield and Adonis, throw caution to the wind and get busy in ‘The Guardian’ or on Twitter, another few hard-headed prospective voters insist on looking in the opposite direction. More, please, much more, on free Broadband and transphobia; more, much more, on ‘structural inequalities’; more, much more, on the concept of ‘Englishness’.
    I was talking to a young Pakistani in the NHS about the latter last year, trying to get across to her – and mightily puzzled she was – that a sense of ‘Englishness’ has been discouraged for years. She imagined were still a nation of tea-drinkers and wearers of dinner-jackets. Interesting, though, that she’d never heard of Enoch Powell (much less Robert Relf, who got himself into hot water for insisting on his ‘Englishness’).
    Of course, very few normal people take any notice of ‘The Guardian’. I find it useful, though, to have a grasp, however tentative, of what my cultural enemies are thinking.

  6. A.J. says:

    Kim McGuinness: another reason for fearing the sanity of anyone considering voting Labour. Plenty of commitment to ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ required nowadays – just not much coppering. Our own force – Derbyshire – has become a national laughing-stock. Just fined a couple of young women taking a stroll in the country £200 apiece (which I hope will be challenged in court). Mind you, they were drinking peppermint tea from Starbucks and that really should be a criminal offence.
    Like the EU, responsibility for overseeing crime has been neatly sewn up by the Left. Usually political failures or has-beens. “We understand you were twice rejected by the British electorate, Mr.Kinnock, how about coming over here to work for us? You can even bring the wife and kids”.

  7. A.J. says:

    So Eddie Izzard is ‘just fighting to have a fair chance in life’. Probably has to get his groceries from a foodbank. See what the Labour Party is up against? Rosie Duffield on the one side, this freak on the other.

    Prepare for a long spell of New Labour (sorry, ‘Tory’) government.

  8. A.J. says:

    Candlewick Green Labour Party passes vote of No Confidence in Starmer. Must frighten the life out of him. Not at all the right chap to win an election and promote socialist policies.

    Time some of these boys and girls drifted off back to their student union debating clubs, holding placards in the rain and cadging free drinks in the Nelson Mandela bar. My old CLP would have run them out of town on a rail.

  9. Tafia says:

    It was announced as 650 well over 6 months ago – in fact t was May who dropped the idea of reducing them to 600 back in 2018, against the recommendations of the review and Boris continued in that vein but you’d need to be at least half-awake to know that. And it still favours the Tories for exactly the same reasons. Labour has an in-built advantage due to the fact that Scotland and Wales are currently over-represented, and most of Labour’s English vote is in urban areas that have less voters.

    For starters both Scotland and Wales will see a reduction in the number of seats they currently have, and by levelling the constituencies so that they all contain around 70-80,000 is fair. And there is no argument about that. The fact it diosadvantages Labour because they are too concentrated in small urban seats and over represented in Wales, is actually not only Labour’s fault but they deliberately allowed it to happen.

    The legislation to do all this is already law. The Parliamentary Constituencies Bill 2019-21 was introduced on 19 May 2020. It had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 2 June 2020. The Bill received royal Assent on 14 December 2020.

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