Thursday, 29 September 2016

The 2018 review: which Conservative MPs could be ousted due to the 2018 Review's boundary changes?

With regards to the 2018 review of parliamentary constituencies, there has been a high amount of media focus of selection battles of Labour MPs that will result from abolition of or changes to existing constituencies. It can already be predicted for example that the safe Labour seats of Lewisham Deptford, Birmingham Hall Green (really Birmingham Hall Green & Sparkbrook), Bradford South, Islwyn, Newport East, Stoke-on-Trent Central, Workington and Wansbeck will almost certainly be abolished by being divided up among other constituencies; others will be changed substantially such that they are notionally Conservative, such as Barrow-on-Furness and Southampton Test.

However, some Conservative MPs will also have to face their own selection and election battles amidst the whole process just as other MPs will, and here are they:

Priti Patel (Witham): There is little if any chance of Priti's constituency being saved, given that its Maldon and Colchester wards need to be joined with nearby constituencies for quota purposes and to restore links broken when Essex gained an extra seat in 2010. The fact that Chelmsford's Conservative MP Sir Simon Burns is already retiring will likely not help her even though Chelmsford is not far at all from Witham.

David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate): His Enfield Southgate seat is likely to be abolished, and as North London is generally trending towards Labour in the long-term he will have difficulty winning over the proposed Finchley & Southgate even if he defeats Mike Freer (Finchley & Golders Green) for that nomination.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle): The towns of Nelson and Colne within Pendle (which until the addition of some villages formerly in Yorkshire in 1983 was called Nelson & Colne) will likely be divided between much of Ribble Valley (formerly known as Clitheroe) and a redrawn Burnley constituency, as this is less objectionable in boundary terms (if only slightly so) than splitting the town of Accrington which forms the majority of Hyndburn. If this goes ahead, Andrew will have to defeat Nigel Evans for the nomination of Ribble Valley's successor seat or try (and almost certainly fail) to win 'Burnley & Nelson' from Labour.

George Osborne (Tatton): Interestingly, Tatton itself was a new seat when it was created in 1983, formed from parts of Cheadle, Knutsford, and Macclesfield mainly due to structural local government changes which caused the northern part of the Knutsford constituency to be moved into Greater Manchester and the southern part of the Cheadle constituency to be moved out of Greater Manchester. George Osborne was once Chancellor of the Exchequer and his seat is likely to be broken up; the last Cheshire Conservative MP to lose his seat as a result of boundary changes was also involved in the Treasury department-his name was Jock Bruce-Gardyne, briefly Economic Secretary to the Treasury under Margaret Thatcher's first term as PM.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed): Berwick-upon-Tweed will likely be merged with Ashington or Morpeth, which will place it firmly in the list of Labour targets for the very first time in the history of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The initial proposal for 'Berwick & Ashington' is notionally Labour, and the available Liberal Democrat votes may hinder more than help Anne-Marie.

Helen Whately (Faversham & Mid Kent): Whether or not Kent is linked with East Sussex in the context of these boundary changes (which I seriously hope it will not be, given the poor links between these two counties), Faversham & Mid Kent is basically unsaveable as a constituency; Maidstone and Ashford will divide up the 'Mid Kent' part in all likelihood and Faversham will almost certainly be joined with Canterbury.

George Hollingberry (Meon Valley): Meon Valley is poorly connected and Hampshire has to lose one seat so Meon Valley, which was itself a new seat when created in 2010, will likely be split up. George Hollingberry, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the current Prime Minister, Theresa May (he was also her PPS back when she was Home Secretary) will likely lose out as a result.

Conor Burns (Bournemouth West): Even if the successor to the current Bournemouth West constituency still ends up being called Bournemouth West officially, it will not be the same at all. Conor will likely face a selection battle with Bournemouth East's Conservative MP, Tobias Ellwood, if he cannot move elsewhere as many other Conservative MPs have done (or failed to do) in the past.

Scott Mann (Cornwall North): The fact that the Liberal Democrats lost every single 'West Country' seat in 2015 (14 to the Conservatives and Bristol West to Labour) means that inevitably a few Conservative MPs would find themselves with nowhere to go following this review, and it seems here Scott will end up the most likely loser of this political musical chairs game, as his seat will be broken up completely.

Craig Williams (Cardiff North): His Cardiff North seat will not be split up but it will have to expand to include Labour/Liberal Democrat-inclined territory from Cardiff Central (which will be abolished) making Cardiff North notionally Labour. He was probably quite relieved when he defended Cardiff North successfully last year despite a majority of only 194 over Labour, the incumbent retiring after only one term, and an increase in the Labour vote share (Labour was losing support in Wales overall in 2015); he may not be so lucky next time.

Simon Hart (Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire): There is no real merit in trying to save Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, because Carmarthen town should be in a Carmarthenshire constituency anyway; the same logic applies for South Pembrokeshire. Given that Simon has no ministerial experience at all when his neighbour, Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire) has been in the Cabinet (first as Welsh Secretary and then briefly as Work & Pensions Secretary), he will likely be forced out of Parliament as a result of the abolition of this constituency.

Byron Davies (Gower): Even if Byron's Gower seat is not split in the end, Gower will have to expand to include Labour-inclined territory in the current Swansea West, making it notionally Labour by a wide margin (the Conservative majority in Gower in 2015 was only 27 votes!) Wales faces the largest seat reduction (11 seats).

Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire): Brecon & Radnorshire needs at least 22,000 more electors to meet the statutory minimum number of electors, and it can only move upwards towards Montgomeryshire, covering the northern part of Powys. This means Montgomeryshire has no chance of being saved and that Christopher Davies (no relation to Glyn) could push Glyn out in the ensuing selection battle.

James Davies (Vale of Clwyd): The initial proposal is to merge most of the Vale of Clwyd (in practice 'East Denbighshire') with what remains of Delyn ('West Flintshire') into a safe Labour seat called Flint & Rhuddlan. Even if nothing of the Vale of Clwyd gets merged with any part of Gwynedd, for example, James could still end up being ousted merely due to his seat being merged with much of a presently Labour seat.

Bill Wiggin (Herefordshire North): Herefordshire North has no realistic chance of being saved due to it being necessary to create two Herefordshire cross-county seats under the Boundary Review's parameters. It will almost certainly be split between 'Ludlow & Leominster' and 'Malvern & Ledbury'.

Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth & Southam): Like Meon Valley in the South East, this poorly connected constituency only came into existence as a result of seat entitlement increases for the 2010 general election, and therefore is a prime candidate for abolition in this review (and no, no part of it needs to be placed together with either town of Warwick & Leamington!) especially when all other Warwickshire constituencies are currently too small.

Lucy Allan (Telford): Telford will end up being notionally Labour after it has expanded, and Lucy has already acquired a relatively poor reputation in her first term as Conservative MP for Telford, which will not endear her to new voters her seat ends up acquiring after this Boundary Review is complete.

David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden): After George Osborne, David Davis will almost certainly be the next highest-profile Conservative casualty of this boundary review; this constituency's wards will go to Kingston-Upon-Hull West & Hessle and thus join a Labour seat and westwards to the largest remains of Brigg & Goole, which Andrew Percy has a stronger claim to.

Andrea Jenkyns (Morley & Outwood): Whatever becomes of Morley & Outwood, Morley will find itself in a notionally safe Labour seat, and so could Outwood. Andrea, who notably ousted Ed Balls last year, could herself end up being out of a job since its likely successor, Batley & Morley, will have a substantial Labour majority.

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