Who’d want to be in Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart’s shoes tonight? The provisional new boundaries have been announced. They were not supposed to be announced until midnight, with MPs being told 12 hours in advance, at noon. Naturally some of them couldn’t keep their mouths shut and by the middle of the afternoon it was all over the internet. So much for MPs being trusted to secrecy! I was at a big Council get together and it made for interesting chat at the tea break.
The old Edgbaston Parliamentary Constituency gets split up. Edgbaston Ward, and the name of the constituency, is – it is suggested – to be joined up with Sparkbrook, Moseley and Kings Heath and Selly Oaks wards. This would make a likely safe Labour constituency, but if Ms Stuart was to try and be the Labour candidate there, she might find herself in a scrap with Steve Mc Cabe MP, and Liam Byrne MP (who finds himself seatless as his Hodge Hill constituency disappears).
Or does Ms Stuart instead opt for the proposed new Harborne constituency? This would contain three quarters of her current constituentcy – Bartley Green, Quinton, and Harborne – added together with Weoley Ward (from Northfield) and Old Warley (from Sandwell Council). The fact that three quarters of her current constituency is in that seat might attract Ms Stuart – BUT the seat has a notional Conservative majority so would surely be less attractive to her than Edgbaston.
However if Ms Stuart finds herself in a dilemma tonight, spare a thought for Jack Dromey. (Not that I have one ounce of sympathy for him!) He took on a rock solid safe Labour seat in 2010 and saw the Labour majority crumble as former Labour voters deserted him in their droves. The proposed new Erdington seat loses Kingstanding Ward (which goes into Sutton) and gains Sutton New Hall (from Tory Sutton) and Castle Bromwich (from Tory Meriden) making that a notional Tory seat – leaving Jack looking at oblivion.
So far none of Birmingham’s Labour MPs has expressed a desire to run for Mayor of Birmingham (should the city vote to have an elected mayor). If any of them do in future, now that the proposed new boundaries have been announced, we shall all know they are very possibly motivated by the fact they won’t have a winnable seat to fight at the next General Election rather than any genuine desire to serve the city.