Proposed changes to size of parliamentary constituency are published by the Boundary Commission today sparking speculation as to safety of Chris Huhne’s Eastleigh seat in a future election if the recommendations are adopted.
The Commission claim the Eastleigh constituency will be ‘significantly reconfigured’ under the proposals which aim to ensure all seats have the same size population- between 73,000 and 80,000- and to fulfil David Cameron’s pledge to cut the number of MP’s by around 50.
While seats will be disappearing in other parts of the country, the density of our local population means a new constituency to be called Hedge End and Hamble will be created out of eight of Eastleigh Borough wards – Hamble, Netley Abbey, Bursledon, Botley , all three Hedge End wards and West End South .
Eastleigh Constituency will regain four of the wards currently represented by Winchester’s conservative MP Steve Brine and will gain three wards from the Romsey constituency which are also part of Test Valley Borough Council.
In addition Eastleigh will gain Swaythling from Southampton Test – which means the giant Ford Transit plant will now be located in the constituency.
The size of the new constituency will stay the same at around 78,000 voters.
In the new Hamble constituency the Lib Dem represented HEWEB wards will be combined with five staunchly conservative wards from the Fareham constituency.
The tables below show the political support in the two proposed constituencies based on the total of votes cast for the main political parties in the local elections last time out.
Wards in proposed Eastleigh consituency with recent local election results
In the wards that will form the new Eastleigh seat the Lib Dems polled 24,409 votes (50%), the Conservatives 17,684 (37%) and Labour 6,160 (13%).
This compares with the 2010 election figures when Lib Dems won 24,966 (47%), Conservatives 21,102 (39%) and Labour 5,153 (9.6%).
The results would suggest that Lib Dem vote would hold up well although conservative voters tend not to turn out for local elections and a larger turnout in the general election could favour the Tory’s.
It should be remembered though that the Conservatives have an albatross dangling from the neck in the shape of UKIP – whose growing ranks of dissenting Tory’s could yet stymie their chances if the vote goes close.
It would seem the greatest danger to Chris Huhne’s seat will come from the public verdict on the performance of the Coalition and his well publicised personal difficulties – and not boundary changes.
Recent local election results from the wards in the new Hedge End & Hamble constituency suggest the General Election result could be close with the advantage to the Conservatives.
These proposals have yet to be voted through Parliament before they take effect but it won’t stop speculation as to who might stand in the new constituency and if any of the current sitting councillors will fancy a stab at the top job.
There can be no greater honour than to represent one’s own home town in Parliament – surely local boy made good, Council Leader Keith House would be tempted?
Perhaps next time Michael Crick will go easy on him?
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