Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Bercow effect The new hole in the heart of central England politics 

So what are the on-the-ground effects of Mr Speaker Berkow removing Buckingham constituency from normal Parliamentary competition? By convention there will be no LibDem or Labour General Election candidates and of course no Tory ones also. What effect will this have on politics in that area and on neighbouring areas? Bercow could be Speaker for several general elections, given his youth, so this could be a generational influence in terms of local politics.

Will Parliamentary level activity atrophy here and if so will it affect parties in different ways? How will the local government fights be affected? What about recruitment and retention of activists? Will the various established parties be able to recruit flying squads to go to nearby target seats and if so on balance which parties are likely to benefit most? Should we respond in party terms if UKIP or the BNP or the Greens (for example) ignore the ‘convention’ and contest the seat with real resources?

In Party terms this area is right on the edge of South-Central region so we may need to evolve action plans co-ordinating support work in several LibDem regions.

Where it is: Buckingham constituency takes up the northern tip of Buckinghamshire County. The present constituency is the basically the whole of Aylesbury Vale District Council EXCEPT for the city wards in Aylesbury. The southernmost townships are at present Long Crendon and Haddenham and after the boundary changes noted below Princes Riseborough takes over southernmost spot.

There are some boundary changes upcoming for the next General Election. One will correct anomalies, putting the whole of Coldharbour Ward (Aylesbury) and the whole of Aston Clinton ward into Aylesbury Constituency: they are at present each spilt in two between Aylesbury and Buckingham. Quarendon ward will also shift to Aylesbury so will have a ‘proper’ MP again after the election. On the other hand Icknield ward and The Riseboroughs ward of Wycombe District transfer from Aylesbury to Buckingham and so lose their proper MP coverage.

Aylesbury Vale (a district the LibDems have controlled in the recent past) will therefore have a split political personality.

The new Constituencies neighbouring Buckingham (from north tip clockwise):

South Northamptonshire
Milton Keynes North
Milton Keynes South
South-West Bedfordshire
South-West Hertfordshire

And of course in easy reach are the Northampton and Oxford constituencies.

In the short term the two MK constituencies are in theory both marginal and will undoubtedly be Tory target seats come the election, so I suspect that in the next year the main effect of Buckingham not being contested properly will be an increase in outside Tory help here.

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