Reports of the death of deference have been greatly exaggerated apparently. Yesterday MPs got to see the proposed Boundary Commission changes at noon. The Electoral Commission only let the public see them at midnight.
The Boundary Commission’s embargo was destroyed by the Guido Fawkes blog publishing the whole thing at 3:04pm yesterday afternoon. Quite right. The Boundary Commission was very silly. Their job is not to bend at the knee to MPs. The people pay. The people should see first. Note to Boundary Commission: This is the 21st Century.
The result for Ealing looks very interesting, if you are a political nerd like me. The maps of the five proposed constituencies that touch Ealing are listed below:
If these changes stick Ealing residents will not feel much has changed I suspect even if 9 wards have a new MP.
The Ealing constituency is a gift to Angie Bray. Overnight she has a safer looking seat. To give you a feel the constituency would have 19 Tory councillors, 6 Labour and 2 LibDem if the current voting patterns were repeated in 2014.
The new Greenford and Northolt seat would be easily in Stephen Pound’s grasp if he wants it. He will be coming up to his 67th birthday in 2015. This will be another safe seat probably with 19 Labour councillors, 4 Tory and one independent if the current voting patterns were repeated in 2014.
The relatively youthful Andy Slaughter, he will be 54 in May 2015, looks like a shoo-in for the Hammersmith and Acton seat proposed. Again, on paper, this looks like a pretty safe Labour seat with 18 Labour councillors, 9 Conservative councillors and 3 LibDem councillors if the current voting patterns were repeated in 2014. It would be foolish though to underestimate the power and enthusiasm of the Hammersmith and Fulham Tories who will dominate the Blue team in this new seat. Slaughter may well be in for a rough ride.
Virendra Sharma would probably get the fabulously safe seat of Southall and Heston. At the next election Alan Keen, MP for Feltham and Heston, and half of the Vile Keens duo, will be 78. Sharma will be a relatively sprightly 68. To give you a feel for how safe this seat would be 27 out of 27 councillors would be Labour ones if the current voting patterns were repeated in 2014.
Perivale residents will perhaps feel more estranged from Ealing in their new home of Wembley and Perivale which is a new version of Barry Gadiner’s Brent North constituency. This looks like a potentially safe Labour seat where 16 out of 24 councillors would be Labour ones if the current voting patterns were repeated in 2014, leaving 4 Tory and 4 LibDem. It is worth noting that before 1997 Brent North was a Conservative seat held by Rhodes Boyson so there may be room for upsets but the demographics have been consistently moving against the Tories for years now in this area. Gardiner will only be 58 in 2015 so might have another term or two in him.
I can’t see any of the local MPs being particularly upset about these proposals however much Stephen Pound may huff and puff about how complex it is. He would much rather the whole thing didn’t happen and the Tories had to overcome a 10% hurdle to get into power. It will though introduce a lot of upset for the local parties which will have to reorganise themselves. Ealing will encompass one complete constituency and four partial ones. It will make political organisation much harder and I am sure that people in parts of the borough will feel really neglected. For instance Ealing Tories are very unlikely to devote much effort to the Southall wards. The Ealing CLP will feel like a very small band of brothers. I don’t see an ambitious young man like Labour’s Bassam Mahfouz standing in Ealing in 2015. Perivale will look north, not south across the A40. For those who feel disenfranchised by first past the post in Ealing that feeling will only deepen. Ealing Borough will remain no place to be a LibDem. I suspect that the changes will be a good thing in the long run. They should give political hacks like me the opportunity to explain the changes to people and to engage with new groups. We’ll see.