Dewi was pretty hot off the starting gun (he either gets up earlier than the rest of us, or stays up much later) with the boundary change news. Nicholas Whyte’s analysis on the BBC is also well worth reading. But so too are these cautionary words from the gentlemanly Michael White:
…cutting the number of MPs to save a theoretical £12m a year is likely to prove a trivial, possibly bad, reform where the laws of unintended consequences will have a field day.
“I can’t see Nick Clegg being able to go along with this,” predicts my Tory chum. “He may have to go to Cameron before parliament votes on these changes in 2013 and say: ‘Can we postpone all this. I’m in enough trouble with the opinion polls without boundary trouble too.’ Will Cameron agree to help him or tell him to get stuffed?”
Indeed. This deal was a co party to the the failed AV system. For the Lib Dems this reform (ie, cutting Commons seats, rather than the simple re-drawing of boundaries) is like turkeys voting for the biggest Christmas party ever.
Footnoted afterthought: Even if these reforms do come in, they only happen in 2015/16. The widespread assumption being applied in local analysis is that voting patterns will remain static between now and then.
Given the relative health of the local parties, it’s not an unreasonable assumption, but its one based on the presumption that there are no uncharted icebergs lurking the next four to five years for Northern Ireland’s political class.