What do the boundary changes mean for each party?

As Vince Cable and Iain Duncan Smith face major changes, here is a breakdown of what the boundary pr

David Cameron faces a battle in Parliament after proposed boundary changes have gone much further than expected.

The boundary review has released its proposed changes to parliamentary constituencies in England to rationalise the size of the electorate in each (proposals for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are forthcoming). However, tight mathematical restraints (commissioners were charged with producing seats with electorates of 76,641, with only 5 per cent variation permitted) mean that the new seats pay little attention to county lines. For example, one seat would include voters from both Devon and Cornwall.

The proposals, aimed at reducing the overall number of MPs from 650 to 600 (within England from 533 to 502), will also pit members of the same party against each other. It is already being suggested that the changes might not go through before the next election, if at all -- although Downing Street spokespeople say that Cameron is determined to make the changes. Here is a summary of the impact the changes could have on each party, and which of their prominent MPs stand to suffer.


The Conservatives stand to gain the most from the changes, because it believes that Labour has an electoral advantage due to the smaller size of its constituencies. However, on initial reading, Tories fear that these changes hand them many more marginal seats. There is a change that this could work in their favour at the next election, but this is risky as it depends upon a swing to the Conservatives.

MPs facing changes:

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, faces major changes in the Chingford and Woodford Green seat. The seat will become Chingford and Edmonton, incorporating three strong Labour wards.

George Osborne's Tatton seat will be renamed Northwich, but the Chancellor is said to be relaxed, as his seat remains largely in tact.

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's Rushcliffe constituency in Nottinghamshire would cease to exist in its current form. Its voters would split between four proposed seats.

Nadine Dorries, the MP for Mid Bedfordshire seat who has made headlines for her abortion campaigning, will lose her seat.

Hugh Robertson, the Sports Minister, will lose his seat in Faversham and Mid Kent.

Liberal Democrats

Along with the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats also pledged to change boundaries in their manifesto. However, several high profile MPs face changes to their seats. If these changes are implemented before the next election, it will stretch their limited resources. However, they can take heart from the success of Sarah Teather, who held on in the new seat of Brent Central when her seat was merged with that of Labour MP, Dawn Butler.

MPs facing changes:

Large chunks of Vince Cable's Twickenham constituency will be joined with Richmond. This could set up a clash between the Business Secretary and Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park. Cable could alternatively stand in the new seat of Teddington and Hanworth, which encompasses much of his old seat.

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, faces a "significantly reconfigured" seat in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Tim Farron, the party president, will face a widely redrawn seat to be named Kendal and Penrith. This will pit him against the Tory MP Rory Stewart (currently MP for Penrith). Tories fear that Stewart might lose.


Labour has yet to give a formal response to the boundary review, but it is likely they will oppose the changes, having previously referred to it as gerrymandering. The party has previously highlighted the estimated 3.5 million people who are missing from electoral registers and therefore have not been taken into account. Many of them are in Labour voting areas.

MPs facing changes:

Labour faces a clash between two of its rising stars, Sadiq Khan (shadow justice secretary) and Chuka Umunna (shadow business minister). Their seats - Tooting and Streatham - are to be combined into one.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, will see his Morley and Outwood seat split almost exactly into two. He could be pitted against Hillary Benn, whose Leeds Central seat will be effectively abolished, with half of its voters absorbed into one of these two seats.

Former cabinet minster Tessa Jowell's Dulwich and West Norwood seat would disappear and be split into three.


Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.