Are boundaries set to be the hot topic this autumn?
Early in September the Welsh boundary commissioners will kick of with what’s looks set to be the main topic for politicians, if not the voters, this autumn, the new seat boundaries.
The first draft proposals for the 2015 political map of the UK will come from Cardiff to be followed in the week of September 12th by those for England. Scottish MPs are going to have to wait a bit longer – the plans for their seats won’t be out until October.
For there can be nothing more unsettling for an MP, particularly those who have safe seats, to know that he/she might have to fight a tough battle with fellow MPs to get the selection if their political careers aren’t to come to an abrupt end on May 7th 2015.
By accident or design the main bulk of the proposals will have been published just before this year’s round of party conferences starts on September 17th so it’s going to be the hot topic of conversation amongst those attending.
The legislation, enacted in February, reduces the Commons from 650 to 600 seats, establishes the notion of equalised electorates, and has a new fast-track process for finalising what’s in or out of each constituency.
So almost no seat is going to be unchanged which of itself could undermine the incumbency effect.
The Lib Dems are the party that relies most on incumbency. In May 2010 LD Incumbents did 5.3% in terms of vote change compared with seats the party was defending where a new candidate was fighting. Those who’d been elected for the first time in 2005 did 7.8% better.
The Tory incumbency “lift” was much smaller. They saw vote changes that was 1.2% better than seats where a new candidate was defending. The Labour figure was a 2.2% boost.
As soon as the draft proposals come out then I’d hope that people like Anthony Wells who produce the seat calculators will produce new projections on what specific vote shares mean in terms of Commons seat.