So, all the boundary proposals have been released for all 4 nations within the United Kingdom and so it’s important to do an overview review of all of the boundaries and look at the dynamic of power.
England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
You can find Max Woods’s overview of the adjustments to the Northern Ireland boundaries in his article here.
Scotland has seen the seats go from 59 seats, down to 57 seats, which is not as drastic of a reduction as Wales, however obviously England is the only of the three that has seen an increase of seats.
Controversially, one seat that has been removed is Moray, which is the seat of the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross. This, somewhat like Preseli Pembrokeshire, is interesting as it removes a senior member of the regional party but may have more drastic consequences on the relationship between the Scottish and national Conservatives. It will also mean that either Mr. Ross has to choose between finding a new seat, or strictly focussing on the Scottish Parliament, of which he is a member.
Unlike Wales and England, the ward-by-ward data has not been released in a way which allows me to confidently order it by seat, and so there is no spreadsheet. Instead, here’s a list of the new seats and their electorates.
|Airdrie and Shotts||72,775|
|Angus and Strathmore||74,051|
|Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock||72,057|
|Banff and Buchan||72,837|
|Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk||73,779|
|Coatbridge and Bellshill||72,332|
|Dumfries and Galloway||74,916|
|Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale||73,593|
|Dundee East and Arbroath||75,706|
|Dundee West and Gowrie||76,771|
|East Kilbride and Strathaven||75,161|
|East Lothian Coast||73,939|
|Edinburgh North and Leith||76,543|
|Edinburgh South West||73,315|
|Forth Valley South||76,431|
|Glasgow South West||71,584|
|Glenrothes and Loch Leven||74,155|
|Gordon and Moray South||73,121|
|Hamilton and Clyde Valley||74,577|
|Highland East and Elgin||72,038|
|Inverclyde and Bridge of Weir||70,476|
|Kilmarnock and Loudoun||74,801|
|Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath||74,637|
|Linlithgow and Bathgate||73,710|
|Mid Forth Valley||74,126|
|Motherwell and Clydesdale North||70,138|
|Na h-Eileanan an Iar||21,177|
|North Ayrshire and Arran||73,588|
|North East Fife||70,452|
|Orkney and Shetland||34,824|
|Perth and Tay||74,589|
|West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine||73,634|
In terms of seat share, according to Electoral Calculus, only the Liberal Democrats lose seats, with -2, leaving them with two seats. Other than that, Labour remained in one, Conservatives in six, and the SNP in 48.
This is the seat count on the boundaries from Electoral Calculus:
Electoral Calculus projects that the Conservatives are the big winners, with a net of +13. This would give them a majority of 106. Moreover, Labour would go down by eight seats; if this was in the last election, that would result in them going below 200 seats for the first time since 1935. The Liberal Democrats go down by three seats, which would give greater insult to injury to Jo Swinson had these seats been used during 2019, and gives the Liberal Democrats an even greater hill to climb to regain their 2000 successes. Plaid Cymru are the only other party to be directly affected by the changes by going down two seats, which would massively impact their support, as it halved their seat share.
Here is a list of the proposed changes by region:
This shows that there will be an increase of power in the south, which will likely disempower many northern voices that already feel that they are not being listened to by all major political parties. Moreover, the drastic decrease in Wales’s seats may empower more Plaid Cymru support if the feeling of disenfranchisement from Westminster is the prevailing feeling towards these seat boundaries.
The southern aspect though has more important implications, as seats such as Wycombe in the current seat boundaries have become marginal. This is a seat that has voted Conservative since 1951, and even in 1997 came back Conservative and so this suggests that there could be a swing going away from the Conservatives in the south. This is backed up by the Chesham and Amersham by-election victory, and Liberal Democrats, and other opposition parties, gaining ground in the south. This is not something new; Canterbury, which had gone Conservative since 1918, went Labour in 2017 and remained Labour with an increased majority in 2019.
Therefore, though the Conservative Party will win the most amount of seats in the south, if Labour are able to keep momentum up in the south, and reclaim their heartlands, then it could be enough to either get into government themselves, or stop a Conservative majority, like they did in 2017, which caused chaos in Parliament.
The new metrics also suggest more tough times for the Liberal Democrats after they go back to the same amount of seats as the depression of 2015. However, they also could likely gain in the south. Though Chesham and Amersham is likely to not be matched in any capacity in a general election, momentum could build with the Liberal Democrats, with very positive local by-election as well as much better than expected local election results in the local elections this year, momentum could build. This could build upon the result in 2019, where they gained in vote share in many remain seats across England. Therefore, there could be signs of greater progress in places such as Cambridgeshire, as a whole.
When it comes to nationalist parties, these changes have mostly unaffected the SNP, and likely has not and will not shift their aim to take more seats in Scotland. Many seats in the region were marginal in 2017 and will continue to be going into the next election, Therefore, changes will likely result out of the electorate being dissatisfied rather than specifically the changes in boundaries. Plaid Cymru, though, are in a tough position as they lose two seats, but importantly, the amount of seats in their areas of strength is worrying for their progress, as Wales is currently looking to be less nationalistically inclined as Scotland.
Finally, the Conservatives will be happy with these more favourable seats, as there is a growing amount in the south, their traditional heartlands. However, post-Brexit, in many instances, there have been southern areas moving further away from them, which may mean they could rue this increase if they are unable to maintain, or increase, the support they garnered in the 2019 election.