Will we start to get an idea in September?
On September 12th or 13th the boundary commissioners for England will produce their first proposals on how the electoral map should be re-drawn for the 2015 general election. The Scottish proposals are due out in October and the Welsh ones now look set to be published at about the same time.
These will be critical documents and will allow Martin Baxter of Electoral Calculus, Anthony Wells of YouGov UKPollingReport and others to produce their first projections on what different vote shares mean in terms of seats.
Based on current boundaries Strathclyde University’s Prof. John Curtice has suggested that the blues would need a margin of 11.2% for an overall majority. In May 2010 the party came in 7.3% ahead and was twenty seats short.
What almost goes without saying is that the bar for a Conservative majority will drop and that for a Labour one will rise – the question is by how much?
What will make Labour’s task harder than the uniform swing projections is that it will need to win back almost all that was lost last yea- seats that even with the changes will be held in the main by Tory incumbents who entered parliament last year. The experience of recent elections is that first time incumbent MPs in seats that were won at the previous election do a fair bit better than the national and regional swings should suggest.
In 2010 Lib Dem incumbents did far better than when a new candidate was seeking to hold on for the party.
My guess, is that the Tory vote lead requirement will drop to about 8% with the Labour one moving to, perhaps, 4%.