Could the whole lot be blown because of the seat reductions?
In just over six weeks time the first of the planned electoral maps for 2015 will be published – a development that’s likely to have a big impact on the next election result and be one of the major political rows from the conference season onwards.
This will be the first stage of the new process enacted in February which brings in equalised constituencies and fast-track reviews every five years. It’s thought that both these factors will make the system less biased to Labour. We all know how Labour held on with a 60+ majority in 2005 with a vote margin of just 3%. Five years later the Tories had a 7.3% vote lead but were 21 seats short.
But all this could be blown out of the water because of the third element in the changes – to reduce the total number of MPs from 650 to 600.
This inevitably means that there’ll be losers in all parties and politicians who see themselves out of a job are going to be less than enthusiastic.
The final decision on whether the new boundaries should be approved will be made by MPs in a commons vote in October 2013 and my current reckoning is that there’s only about a 50% chance of these going through.
If that falls then the next election will be fought with the 2010 constituencies.
My view is that the Tories were trying to do too much too fast and should have left the seat reduction plan to one side. As it is they now risk losing the very real benefit from the other reforms.