Tories would have won outright if proposed boundaries were in place in 2010
Early analysis of amended constituency boundary proposals confirms findings that Tories would have won the last general election outright if the changes had been in force in 2010.
A report by Plymouth University election experts professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher for the Press Association, BBC, ITN and Sky News suggests David Cameron’s party would have squeaked home with a majority of two – four if the Speaker’s seat is included in its total – and a mandate to govern alone.
Tensions are likely to smoulder on between coalition parties, with Tories keen to get the changes through Parliament while Liberal Democrats insist they will vote against the package next October in a tit-for-tat over the failure of Lords reform.
The Boundary Commission for England today unveiled amendments to last year’s recommendations, INCLUDING CHANGES IN AND AROUND PLYMOUTH, part of a scheme to cut MPs’ ranks by 50 to 600 and achieve closer equality in constituency electorates.
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Prof Rallings and Prof Thrasher say these would see Labour strongholds dismantled in the North and Wales, with Tories faring better, reflecting population shifts from North to South and from cities to suburbs.
The Tory-dominated South East would lose one seat, against seven in the North West.
The professors say that, following revised recommendations for England and Scotland, Tories could be “defending” 301 seats in 2015 – five down on 2010; Labour just 225 – 33 down; and Lib Dems 49 – down eight. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas would lose her Brighton seat and Plaid Cymru would drop from three to two seats. The SNP’s total of six would be unaffected. The Speaker’s constituency brings the total to 600.
Welsh boundary commission revisions, due next week, are not expected to change the overall pattern. Northern Ireland, where no mainland parties have won seats for decades, would be left with 16 MPs – down two.
The professors add that the new boundaries “do not eliminate the disproportionate way in which the parties receive seats for the votes they get”.
“If the result in 2010 had been reversed – Labour had got 37% of the vote and the Tories 30% with all other parties staying the same – Labour would have won 318 seats on the new boundaries and Tories 199 – a Labour overall majority of 36 compared with a notional Tory one of two.
“Tories will still need to be some seven points ahead of Labour to win a majority next time. By contrast, Ed Miliband needs only to be four points ahead to secure his own overall majority.”