Here come the new seats (same as the old seats)

Details have emerged (care of Guido Fawkes – see, he ain’t all bad, even if he has blocked me on Twitter) of the boundaries review which follows the coalition’s decision to get rid of 50 mps.

There’s a midnight media embargo on it, but it’s midnight where I am, so here’s an early look at how it lines up in Lancashire.

In Blackpool, it’s a case of back to the future – Blackpool South and Blackpool North and Fleetwood will be pretty much as they were from 1997 to 2010.

Fylde gets Poulton-le-Fylde, which strengthens its Tory credentials even further, while Lancaster inhertits much of rural Wyre – again, just as it did before the last review, as well as a few Trough of Bowland towns, including Chipping and Ribchester, which have about as much in common with Lancaster as Fleetwood did. Morecambe and Lunesdale stays much as it ever did, with a bit more Lune Valley added in for good measure.

Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire stay much as they were before 2010.

In east Lancs, it all starts getting a bit more bizarre and unfamiliar. While Blackburn stays largely the same, Rossendale and Darwen is squeezed into Darwen and Haslingden, with Rochdale North and Rawtenstall taking the rest (and knocking a few grand off property values in the leafy Rossendale valley, no doubt).

Burnley is split down the middle, with half of it joining with Accrington and the other merging with Pendle. The fag end of Pendle becomes part of a Ribble Valley mega-seat, stretching from the Yorkshire border to the edge of Preston.

But even that doesn’t compare to the megaseat of Penrith and Kendal which stretches, in the commission’s own words, ‘From the outskirts of Carlisle to the Lancashire border.’

The consultation excercise will continue until 2013, after which you’ll see an epic bunfight between existing Tory MPs, not many of whom are ready for the knackers yard just yet, for the choicest morsels.


A local look

Right, some predictions for local eats – the ones I drive through on a daily basis or have an interest in;
Blackpool South – Labour HOLD, majority 2,000. Gordon Marsden may not be loved, may not be a great MP (expenses-saint status apart, of course), but the demographics continue to shift in his direction and the local Tory, Cllr Ron Bell, has found himself involved in a messy donations scandal. Well-liked Lib Dem Doreen Holt gets above 6,000 votes, BNP drops back from its 2005 total
Blackpool North & Cleveleys – Con GAIN, majority >1,000 for Paul Maynard, the hard-working young Tory candidate. Labour’s Penny Martin, brought in at the last moment, was potentially a good choice, but doesn’t seem to have gained much traction
Lancaster and Fleetwood – Con GAIN, majority 3,000 plus. Suspect the notional figures are dodgy here, Labour’s Clive Grunshaw is little known at the Lancaster end of the constituency, and the Lib Dems, Fleetwood (ex-Labour) independent Cllr Keith Riley and, particularly, the Greens’, who’ve run the best campaign by all accounts and have an excellent local candidate in whistleblowing councillor Gina Dowding, will cut heavily into his vote. Wouldn’t know the Tory, Eric Ollerenshaw, if I fell over him
Morecambe – Lab HOLD, majority 2,500 – back the independent-minded Geraldine Smith to do the business
Wyre and Preston North – Con HOLD, 15,000 + majority for Ben Wallace, almost certainly a minister in any new Tory administration
Fylde – Con HOLD – ridiculously youthful-looking new man Mark Menzies with a smilar majority to the popular, retiring Michael Jack – say 10,000
Westmorland and Lonsdale – Lib Dem HOLD the place is plastered with posters for the excellent Tim Farron, who’ll be returned with a Lib Dem majority of, perhaps, 5/6,000