The Torymander, Part 6: The West Country

Well, here we are; the last diary in the series. The West Country is culturally similar but subtly different from the rest of Southern England. It has a fairly conservative culture, but less militant than that of the home counties. It values relative moderation in its leaders, but has a fairly intense dislike of socialism outside of a few pockets of red. That means that the two largest parties in the region are the Tories and and the LibDems. By 2015, the LibDems had managed to capture a very good share of the seats in the region after decades of hard work. That all got wiped away in an instant as the Tories took every LibDem seat in the West Country.








Dorset is probably the most conservative part of the region, with big retirement and tourist sectors and very few non-white people. The population growth here is okay, but not blowing the doors off. Therefore, it loses most of a seat, taking its total from eight seats to seven so that Wiltshire doesn’t lose one (Bournemouth West is the seat that gets axed). All seven seats are Safe Conservative, as was the seat that was eliminated.





Wiltshire is hair less conservative than Dorset, but all seven constituencies here are also Safe Conservative. The LibDems used to compete for South Swindon, but no longer.





Gloucestershire actually had some competitive seats, but no longer. Stroud expands a bit and moves from Likely Conservative to Safe Conservative. Thornbury and Yate should theoretically be a target for recapture for the LibDems. However, its successor of Dursley, Thornbury and Yate is now Safe Conservative as well. All seven other seats keep that same rating.


Somerset and Bristol:



There’s a similar story in Somerset. The LibDems used to have several seats here, but lost them all in 2015. Bath would still be competitive, except that it added some rural territory and moved to Safe Conservative. All eight other seats are playing the same tune.

For a change of pace, Bristol is an island of red in a sea of blue. Bristol East and Bristol South are Safe Labour. Bristol North West is Safe Conservative. Bristol West is somewhat competitive between Labour and the Greens, so we’ll call it Likely Labour.


Devon and Cornwall:



And here we come to Devon. Fun fact: Devon is the home of the protagonist Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. As with Somerset and Gloucestershire, the LibDems used to perform well here. With their current poll numbers, though, they’re only really competing to take back Torbay, and that’s Likely Conservative. The two Plymouth seats, though Tory-held, are competitive. The Plymouth seats repeat the pattern the we’ve seen with other two-seat cities; the more conservative seat takes some leftist or swingy territory from the more leftist seat, while the more leftist seat takes in some very conservative surrounding territory. To accomplish that, Plymouth Moor View takes in more of Plymouth and moves from Tossup to Likely Conservative, becoming Plymouth North. Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport also moves from Lean Conservative to Likely Conservative and becomes Plymouth South (Labour is the second party in both seats). Exeter remains Safe Labour. The other six seats are Safe Conservative.

Cornwall is a land all it’s own. It’s part of the Celtic Fringe, and the locals recently managed to save their native language from dying out. Unlike Wales, though, it’s historically had a privileged position; before the Great Reform Bill, Cornwall had forty-four MPs because The Crown heavily valued the local tin mining industry. These days, Cornwall has six constituencies (in the new map one seat has part of Devon). Five of them were already Safe Conservative. St. Ives was Likely Conservative, but it had to expand and becomes Safe Conservative as well.


And there you have; That’s the last in the series, as I won’t be doing a full piece on Scotland (though I may include a few notes on it in the future). The final totals (sans Scotland) are: 290 Safe Conservative, 157 Safe Labour, 19 Likely Conservative, 17 Likely Labour, 2 Likely Liberal Democrat, 2 Likely Plaid Cymru, 12 Lean Conservative, 6 Lean Labour, 1 Lean Liberal Democrat, 1 Lean Plaid Cymru, 21 Tossup. You read that right, folks. The Tories could lose every Tossup and still have a comfortable majority of 321. Remember, these ratings assume a movement to the Tories of four points or less, which is pretty modest given their current poll numbers. The flip side of that is that a few of the Tossups don’t involve Team Blue and Labour has relatively few Likely seats that can be poached in a big Tory win. May should have a fairly comfortable majority, but she’d probably need the supposed breakthrough in Scotland to materialize in good seat gains to get a very large majority.

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  • GOPTarHeel February 3, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Love this. I can’t believe poor little Cornwall had 44 seats! There’s an BBC drama series that my wife loves set in the area.

    Anyway, this area seems very unlikely to swing back to the LibDems. Their MPs from this area, like David Laws, tended to be Orange Bookers (aka neo liberals) while the Farron faction is more like a slightly libertarian group of social democrats. This is also a heavy Leave area generally, yet doesn’t have much of a UKIP presence if I’m not mistaken.

    Thanks for all your hard work SOTS! Hopefully they don’t change the boundaries too much in the next review!

    R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

    • Son_of_the_South February 3, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Yeah. The LibDems have had a recovery of about two points. I’m sure that the recovery will be more concentrated in areas where they run strong candidates, but I doubt that they’d take back more than a few seats here without a much bigger swing. As for UKIP, they do come second in some West Country rural seats (especially in Dorset and Devon, if memory serves).

      As for changes, you’re right. I’d hate to have done all this work only to see a bunch of it scrapped! These are actual proposals, though, so I’m optimistic that they’ll mostly stick.

      24, R, TN-09
      Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

      • Jon February 3, 2017 at 11:48 pm

        It looks like the biggest changes from the proposed to second round last time prior to it having been stopped were:

        1. Which axis to split Isle of Wright along was rotated 90 degrees

        2. Northern Ireland map had major changes.

        3. A large number of rename the constituency from what was initially proposed (without any other changes)

        4. Various tweaks that reduced split voting areas; some of this included a rename of the contingency as well.

        Per Boundary Commission for England’s site, the 13 week comment period following that initial proposed version is now over and sometime this spring they’ll publish the next version

        45, M, MO-02

  • rdelbov February 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Great stuff

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