Wednesday, 18 July 2012
The final Lib Dem totals... And they're not pretty
So, as part four in the series on Lib Dem losses under the old Parliamentary boundaries, we come to the East, Midlands and North of England. I'll stop all the detail after this, I promise, and get back to some more history, but why stop when you're on a roll? I also genuinely wanted to get to the end of the process and make a ballpark 'call' of possible Lib Dem numbers in the next House of Commons. Their prospects don't look good, as if you didn't know.
In the East of England, three of the party's four MPs - in Cambridge, Colchester and Norfolk North - look pretty entrenched, but Norwich South is going to be lost back to Labour, from whom it was won in 2010.
It's a more grisly picture in the Midlands. Birmingham Yardley and leafy surburban Solihull will probably go to Labour and the Conservatives respectively, wiping out the party's Parliamentary representation from (literally) Middle England.
In the North of England, Bradford East will be going back to Labour (Nick Clegg - above - is probably safe enough from a strong Conservative or Labour challenge in Sheffield Hallam). So will Burnley, Manchester Withington and Redcar in the North-East (which they lost last time due to the closure of the Corus plant in the town). The Conservatives will pick up Cheadle and Hazel Grove in suburban Manchester.
Okay. So where have we got to? That gives us Lib Dems losses in Eastern, Midland and Northern England amounting to nine seats.
Totting these up with the totals we reached in the last three posts, we get a net total of 35 Lib Dem losses. That would leave the party with 22 seats - down nearly two-thirds on their House of Commons numbers now. Which, incidentally, isn't far from the situation you would project by just using a crude or uniform 'swing'.
And the big winners? Well, if there were no changes from the 2010 balance between Blue and Red teams, that would be the Conservatives, picking up 20 seats from the carcass. Labour would not be far behind on 14, and the SNP would possibly gain another couple of seats.
It would mean a House of Commons made up of 326 Conservatives, faced by 272 Labour MPs, 22 Lib Dems, eight Scottish Nationalists and some others. Meaning an absolute Conservative majority of, er, one. Maybe another coalition, or at least a Confidence and Supply arrangement, in which the Lib Dems agree not to vote down a Conservative Budget. Just about the last thing the Lib Dems themselves would want after such a kicking - one administered in large part for joining up with the Tories in the first place.
It looks pretty grim for them, doesn't it?