Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Prediction - Boundary changes won't happen
Here's a prediction (which isn't exactly unique). The boundary changes proposed today won't happen.
The proposals were needed because of the decision in Parliament to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and to force all seats to be within a small margin of error of a uniform size. There are a few exceptions - the isolated Island seats and a sop to the Tories on the Isle of Wight - but the room for manoeuvre for the Boundary Commission has been very small.
And so they have come up with a set of proposals which please almost nobody and which lead to the game of winners and losers.
Labour oppose the concept of change because they believe that it is being done for political reasons. They're right in this - at the moment the average Labour seat is smaller than the average Conservative seat.
To date the majority of Lib Dems have gone along with the change as it is a Government Bill. But the prospect of losing around a quarter of their MPs, as well as the local issues such as a cross border Devonwall seat, mean that there are many Lib Dems who are no longer sure this is a good idea. Even some favourable notional results are enough to convince many of the desirability of change.
Even among the Conservatives, there are many sitting MPs who will be out of a job if these changes go ahead. They can't all get peerages to soften the blow and some of them are seeing their seats disintegrate into four or five new ones.
So whilst the Boundary Commission hold their hearings and consider tinkering at the edges, the reality is that the real decision is whether we have any changes at all. That vote will take place in early autumn in 2013 and my guess at the moment is on a no vote.