The Independent View: Good News for Lib Dems in Devon and Cornwall boundary changes?

After the polls, some perhaps more welcome news for the Liberal Democrats.

I’ve recently started running a series of articles on the website that set out how the boundary changes in 2015 could play out and what this would mean for the political parties.

On Tuesday, I looked at the impact of changes for Devon and Cornwall.  These two counties will be linked in the next review, creating a controversial trans-Tamar seat linking parts of both counties.  The two counties are set to lose one seat between them, falling from 18 to 17.

It looks as if the changes could be to the Liberal Democrats’ benefit.  I calculate that the likely impact of changes would increase their number of seats from these counties by one, taking the party from its current tally of MPs from five to six based on the results at the last general election.  The Conservatives would fall by two, from 11 to 9 on those same results whilst Labour would have retained both their seats there.

The reason is the need to recreate a Falmouth and Camborne seat, held by Julia Goldsworthy in the last parliament.

The Liberal Democrats would also look likely to hold the trans-Tamar North Cornwall and Torridge.

The changes to St Ives would have left it in Lib Dem hands and both North Devon and Torbay would keep their current boundaries.

The St Austell seat is likely to extend northwards to take in parts of the current North Cornwall seat and would have remained Lib Dem on those results.

More details can be found here.

The Independent View‘ is a slot on Lib Dem Voice which allows those from beyond the party to contribute to debates we believe are of interest to LDV’s readers. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in contributing.

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  • I hope we are not supporting a reduction in the number of MPs as it was linked to the AV referendum.
    Whatever the outcome in Cornwall, it will eman fewer Lib Dems elsewhere. Things are looking bad enough as it is !

  • Philip Young 9th May '11 - 6:20pm

    Odd that the parliamentary party has endorsed the plan to reduce the number of MPs – the cost saving overall is pretty minimal, and surely it must mean some, somewhere, are even more remote from their MP living in a larger constituency, area-wise?

  • May I point out that there is a lot of chicken counting being done here. Putting aside the crassness of the reduction in the number of constituencies, I wouldn’t be so sure that the reconstituted Falmouth and Cambourne seat would go to the Lib Dems – there is evidence from the opinion poll in the South West and from local byelections that the Labour vote in Cornwall is increasing. Imagine if the Cornwall Unitary Authority had had elections last Thursday – I think Labour would have made quite a few gains (not hard when they only have one seat on the council, and that after a recent byelection) and I would caution Liberal Democrats against presumption. All bets are now off electorally – Labour are finally a threat in Cornwall. I suspect Cornwall’s reaction to the coalition will be the same as some of the Northern cities where seats that Labour have never held fell to them.

  • @Mark Pack
    Wasn’t the reduction linked to a more proportional system ?

  • Kevin Colwill 9th May '11 - 11:12pm

    Torridge and West Devon is a Tory/ Lib Dem marginal that the Tory usually wins. North Cornwall ditto but the Lib Dem usually wins. If you stitch the two together, minus a bit here and there, I’d be inclined to call it for the Tories. And that’s without UKIP voters going back to the Tory fold or significant numbers of anti-coalition Lib Dem voters switching to other parties or staying home.

    The second assumption is a big one. These are constituencies where Labour comes fourth and is an electoral irrelevance. I think it’s safe to assume that a few Labour supporters have succumbed to bar chart politics and use their vote tactically. If the Lib Dems lose just a couple of thousand of those tactical votes the Tory will have a comfortable majority.

    But, hey, what do I know…I’ve just lived here all my life and my family has only few generations in the area. I’m sure the political bloggers know much better than me.

  • It is no longer possible for future projections to be made on the basis of past voting patterns. It is unlikely that whatever the changes the Liberal Democrats will hold the South West given the seats were usually won with ‘borrowed support’ from the left. I expect most seats to revert to their natural blue with ease.

  • Old Codger Chris 10th May '11 - 9:11am

    Jackie South’s piece simply highlights what we all know, namely that – under any voting system other than PR – it’s where you live that really matters at election time. At the last boundary review Lib Dems in my area enthusiastically supported a proposal that has seen a chunk of our town “transferred” from the local Tory MP to one whose base is a much smaller town many miles away – I doubt if even half the locals could find it on a map.

    I believe that Lib Dem policy included reducing the number of MPs to 500. A recipe for raising the proportion of payroll MPs and muzzling backbench independence.

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