After the 2019 election, we suggested five ways that Boris Johnson could help to secure the Party’s electoral position as part of our Majority series. This was the first. Eight months on, how are they doing?
– – –
Securing The Majority? 1) Equalising boundaries
Before the Covid-19 crisis swept all before it, the Government had started to make progress on boundary reform. Specifically, it had announced its intention to scrap the legal requirement for it to cut the number of constituencies to 600.
This was first floated by David Cameron as a way to ‘cut the cost of politics’ in response to the expenses scandal, but was making the whole thing a very difficult sell to MPs, who didn’t want to end up caught in a game of musical chairs ahead of the next election. There is also an argument that MPs will have more to do once all the powers ceded to the European Union have been repatriated.
What impact this will have on the ’tilt’ of the new battlefield isn’t clear. As we noted previously, some projections suggested a stronger Tory win on the proposed new boundaries. But with so many seats in the ‘Blue Wall’ held by first-term incumbents, the churn created by a major review could wipe out the typical new-MP electoral dividend and undermine the defence in 2023 or 2024.
Conversely, some analysts have suggested that the new electoral geography created by the collapse of the ‘Red Wall’ reduces the partisan advantage for the Conservatives of equalising constituency sizes (which remains a manifesto commitment), as they now hold many of the under-sized seats which used to give Labour an advantage.
Either way, with a strong overall majority and a full parliamentary term ahead of them, the Government ought to have no excuse not to finally get this long-delayed review over the line. The relevant Bill receives its Lords committee stage on September 8.