Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lib Dems would gain five seats with new constituency boundaries

A rare piece of good news for the Liberal Democrats is to be found in a New Statesman article by Ben Walker.

He says that we are set to gain from the new constituency boundaries proposed by the Electoral Commission.

By his calculations, if the 2019 election had been fought on these boundaries the Lib Dems would have gained Sheffield Hallam from Labour and Esher and Walton, Finchley and Muswell Hill, South Cambridgeshire and Wimbledon from the Conservatives.

Other commentators have suggested that Tim Farron will have trouble finding a winnable seat in Cumbria, and there will be more subtle losses and gains across the country,

But it is worth noting Ben Walker's conclusion that "these boundary changes aren’t dramatically helpful for the Conservatives, nor disastrous for Labour".


David Evans said...


I don't see anything in the Statesman article other than another attempt to pretend that the whole boundary review process (from legislation to implementation) is anything other than a massive stitch up designed to further embed the Conservatives in power for a generation. The fiction that any of the identified potential gains would be winnable in a future general election is largely risible.

The analysis seems to be very shallow with no allowance made for the one off factor in our favour at the time, our clear anti Brexit stance - the one major issue where we had a clear position different from both the Conservatives and Labour. Brexit is now long gone and any "get us out of Boris' Brexit mess" will almost certainly be owned by Labour.

Elections are fought in the future, not in the past, and while learning lessons from the past is vital for progress to be achieved by our party (and so far have assiduously ignored by the party establishment), pretending that the future results in those constituencies are likely to be in any way similar to those in 2019 are simply wishful thinking. Longer trends need to be considered.

Esher and Walton, and Finchley and Muswell Hill, were massive one offs based on the spending of huge amounts of money in an anti-Brexit frenzy. Those seats had already gone on 15 December 2019..

The opportunity to win South Cambridgeshire for the Lib Dems sadly disappeared the moment Heidi Allen decided to walk away rather than fight with us (I wonder if Jo knew this when she went for a quick General Election with Nicola Sturgeon - my guess is that she never thought to ask). Good council results alone are nothing like enough to break through now.

Wimbledon was interesting result, but with the loss of the anti Brexit factor we will drift back next time. Whether the local party can build sustainable progress again in the longer term will be the key factor.

Sheffield Hallam is the only one that definitely has a long term pedigree to build on, but even there it is fighting on two fronts (a Labour MP and staff and a Conservative recovery). However, the loss of Brexit and the Jared O'Mara fiasco as major issues will tax their abilities significantly. Whether they can find another Richard Allan will be key to their hopes of winning the seat again.

The key factor totally missing from the report is its effect on our traditional 'second place marginals.'

I don't think the review will do anything but harm to most of them.

Phil Wainewright said...

David Evans doesn't appear to have read your blog post last month Lib Dems can knock holes in the Tories' Blue Wall in which you quite clearly state, "One of this blog's established roles is engendering irrational optimism in its Liberal Democrat readers."

Do keep up the good work.