Labour responds to Somerset boundary changes

Yesterday we reported on the latest recommendations for new constituencies made by the Boundary Commission for England. If implemented it will mean a significant change to the political map of Somerset. Currently the area of Somerset covered by The Leveller includes five constituencies, with 5 Conservative MPs.

As we mentioned previously, the creation of constituencies around Frome and Bridgwater offer opportunities. These are communities where a large part of the population tend to vote for left of centre parties. Labour will likely have high hopes of winning either or both.

This morning Labour candidate for Somerton and Frome (Sean Dromgoole) in the last two elections gave his thoughts. Sean told us: “These boundary reviews always bring about change. They often get messy at the edges as things are stretched and squeezed in. The proposals published this morning for Somerset however are amongst the most substantial since the Second World War. Because our population has been increasing, two extra constituencies are required, and fitting them in has involved some brutal reshuffling. Somerton and Frome, the constituency for which it has been my great privilege to campaign in the last two general elections, has been split in half. The two new halves have been augmented with parishes from the surrounding constituencies to bring the total populations within the guidelines.”

If this goes through, we will have a new Frome constituency which will now include Radstock and Midsomer Norton to the north and going as far as Bruton in the south. We will also have a second constituency, Glastonbury and Somerton, shaped so that Glastonbury and Street in the north have been added to Langport and Somerton in the west going as far as Wincanton in the east. The current Somerton and Frome has always been an unwieldy constituency, taking an hour and half to drive from one end to the other. Consolidation has been long overdue. The combination of Radstock and Frome could make for a much more interesting prospect from the Labour point of view.

“If we look further afield, we see a similar opportunity in the old constituency of Bridgwater and West Somerset, now broken up into Bridgwater and the bizarrely county boundary-crossing Tiverton and Minehead. Labour colleagues in Bridgwater must be rubbing their hands at the prospect of that fine socialist town having its own Labour MP again, as nature has always intended. Historically objections from sitting MPs have been influential, but each of our two Somerset “Slow Horses”, Warburton and Liddell-Grainger have been gifted eminently winnable seats in the transition, so it would seem self-defeating for them to object, however neither can be accused of predictability, so we await their response with interest.”

Labour’s final view on this will be consolidated nationally and it is already clear that the proposals in other areas leave much to be desired. This is a complex set of proposals that will require a considered and balanced response however my initial view, in Somerset, is that some longstanding iniquities have been addressed and some opportunities may have been created.”

Leave a Reply