East of the M60’s musings on the proposed boundary changes
So, whether we voted in favour of electoral reform or not, we have learnt that the House of Commons would have shafted some MPs any way. Even the 2010 Liberal Democrat Manifesto stated that, with a proposal to abolish 150 seats, albeit with a reformed voting system. Instead, Britons voted against a change from First Past the Post, protesting against its perceived complexity and fearing any loss of seats. Therefore, what we are about to receive is a loss of 50 MPs and an ageing (though seemingly idiotproof) non-proportional voting system. Most of which they said would be in Labour and Liberal Democrat strongholds.
This week, a new report has been published by Lewis Baston from Democratic Audit, which in our region would see fundamental changes to our constituencies. Among the proposals considered are:
- The abolition of the Denton and Reddish, Cheadle and Hazel Grove constituencies;
- Redrawn constituencies in Tameside;
- An expanded Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency;
- Unchanged Heywood and Middleton and Rochdale constituencies.
The Denton and Reddish seat at present crosses the Tameside and Stockport boundaries with Denton its epicentre. As a consequence, Dukinfield seems to out on a limb. Instead, the Stockport North constituency would be resurrected. Therefore, Denton North East and Denton South wards would form part of a new Hyde and Denton constituencies. Denton West (which covers Dane Bank) will join the Stockport North seat.
Dukinfield, part of the Denton and Reddish seat since 1997, will join the new Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne seat, along with Dukinfield/Stalybridge, Mossley and all of Ashton-under-Lyne’s wards. Failsworth, part of the Ashton-under-Lyne seat, will join a redrawn Oldham West and Royton seat. Oldham East and Saddleworth will take in the Medlock Vale ward, which covers Fitton Hill and Bardsley.
Whereas the Rochdale borough has seen no boundary changes, Stockport has taken more of a hit. The Stockport North constituency was revived, whereas Hazel Grove and Cheadle (both Liberal Democrat seats) will be abolished. In its place is a new Poynton and Bramhall seat. Hazel Grove, Cheadle Hulme North and Stepping Hill will join another revived seat, Stockport South. Marple will join the new Poynton and Bramhall seat along with Bollington from the Macclesfield constituency.
Predictions for 2015?
I can imagine the proposed Poynton and Bramhall seat being a Tory stronghold. Given the current state of the Liberal Democrats, I can see some people whom hitherto voted Lib Dem either turning to the Tories or one of the fringe parties. Stockport North and Stockport South could become safe and marginal Labour seats.
Hyde and Denton, and Stalybridge and Ashton could both be safe Labour seats, likewise the Rochdale seats and Oldham West and Royton. At present, Oldham East and Saddleworth is a Labour marginal. If the Boundary Commission’s plan mirrors the recommendations by Democratic Audit, the new Oldham East and Saddleworth seat could a relatively safe Labour one (with the addition of Medlock Vale ward).
If Democratic Audit’s suggestions near reality, the area east of the M60 motorway will see a net loss of one MP. In Tameside, there would be reduced representation with the borough’s third MP only covering one ward (at odds with current practice where Tameside’s three MPs’ wards are evenly split). Dane Bank would be on more of a limb, compared with its fellow Stopfordian wards. However, Dukinfield may benefit more from a new Stalybridge and Ashton seat.
We await the Boundary Commission’s findings this autumn with trepidation.
S.V., 07 June 2011.