Tories gain 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, TWENTY new MPs
This week we've focused a lot on the AV referendum and the dangers it poses to good government and to the Conservative Party's future. Paul wrote the most important piece here, I addressed the same subject in today's Times (£) and, within the last hour, Iain Martin has written a blood-curdling blog on the subject.
We've neglected to properly note the importance of the other half of The Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill; the delivery of a long-held hope of this website for fairly-sized seats.
There has been some suggestion that the equalisation of constituency size will give the Tories about 8 to 12 extra MPs. That number is certainly not to be sneezed at but CCHQ is convinced that, if the boundaries fall where they expect them to fall, the gain is likely to be up to twenty extra Conservative MPs. Labour understand this and that is why they fought so hard against the Bill in the House of Lords.
CCHQ also believes that there will be few Tory MPs fighting over selection battles in redrawn constituencies. There'll be just one such battle in the South East of England, for example. Labour MPs will be affected much more badly. This will have two effects: Less Labour MPs enjoying the advantage of incumbency and more red-on-red selection battles.
Meanwhile Jonathan has already reported David Cameron's launch of the party's No to AV campaign. The party has also unveiled a dedicated website here. The Prime Minister told colleagues in Downing Street this morning that he will personally lead the Tory effort to defeat AV. He said he is giving the campaign priority status and has told the Treasurer's Department at CCHQ to help ensure the independent campaign has the resources it needs. My source at CCHQ says that the No2AV campaign has two big jobs. First is to work with Labour voters and secondly to show how broken electoral promises become commonplace under AV - both jobs that Conservative ministers cannot easily perform.