Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Look @: ‘Central London’

This post covers the central area of London where the boundary commission have really struggled to get the wards to match up perfectly. The Cities of London and Westminster and the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham share 5 Parliamentary seats between them. To complicate matters further, the City of London has a unique electoral system whereby the majority of voters are appointed by business' trading in the authority boundary. The reason for this controversial system is that only 10,000 people reside in the City of London yet almost half a million people descend on the area every day. So we don't have any mid-term elections to look at for one seat.

As of the other authorities, the City of Westminster is a safe borough for the Conservatives. They won 48 of the 60 seats in the 2006 election, which represented no change in the distribution of councillors. The Tories also have a big majority on Kensington & Chelsea's council holding 45 of the 54 seats. They gained four seats in the last election, which doesn't bode well for Labour's chances at the General Election. Finally, Hammersmith & Fulham was controlled by Labour for 24 years before the Conservatives sensationally gained 18 seats in 2006. The Tories now run the borough with 33 of the 46 seats and they clearly have the political momentum in this area of London.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Westminster North

Karen Buck




CON Gain

Cities of London & Westminster

Mark Field




CON Hold


Sir Malcolm Rifkind




CON Hold


Andrew Slaughter




CON Gain

Chelsea & Fulham

Greg Hands




CON Hold


Karen Buck was the first, and only, MP for her Regents Park & Kensington North seat. The seat was created in 1997 and has now been abolished leaving Buck defending a significantly different and renamed seat, Westminster North, on a significantly reduced majority. Her notional majority is around a third of the actual majority she secured in 2005 and it looks like this will cost her in May. This looks like an easy pick up for the Conservatives but they have been doing their best to mess it up. They selected Joanne Cash as their candidate only for her to resign after a bust up with the local party president early this year. She was reinstated after CCHQ got involved and it's not surprising Cash came out on top. Her husband went to Eton with David Cameron, George Osborne is a close neighbour and Michael Grove attended her wedding. Cash isn't only likely to win, I wouldn't be surprised if she was given a portfolio in a new Conservative Government; Tory Gain.

The Cities of London & Westminster seat has been with the Conservatives since its creation in 1950. Mark Field has represented the constituency since 2001 and although he looks pretty safe that doesn't make him uninteresting. In 2006 it was alleged he had an affair with Tory A-List candidate Liz Truss, which is said to have led to his divorce. The story resurfaced last autumn when Truss was selected for the safe seat of South West Norfolk. The local Conservative activists in this area must dream of a candidate that can stay out of the limelight! The local Labour Party have also caused a stir by selecting the former Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, but he has little chance of winning; Tory Hold.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is another MP defending a severely altered seat at this election. His Kensington constituency consists of the Kensington North part of Karen Buck's Regents Park & Kensington North seat combined with the Kensington part of his old Kensington & Chelsea seat. In short, the whole Kensington area is all in one constituency and Rifkind is defending a reduced majority following the lost of the Chelsea wards. Rifkind has only held this London seat for one term having previously been the MP for Edinburgh Pentlands for 23 years. Labour are notionally in second and they have Sam Gurney as their candidate. But the Lib Dems pipped Labour to second place in Kensington & Chelsea in 2005 and unfortunately for them the boundary changes have left Robin Meltzer with a large notional gap to make up. I expect Rifkind will keep his seat quite comfortably; Tory Hold.

Hammersmith contains the Hammersmith part of the old Hammersmith & Fulham seat and the Shepard's Bush part of the old Ealing, Acton & Shepard's Bush seat. Greg Hands took the sensible option and followed his Fulham wards to the new Chelsea & Fulham seat leaving this technically with the Labour MP for Ealing, Acton & Shepard's Bush, Andrew Slaughter. Labour hold it notionally but it is very much within reach for the Conservatives. Slaughter is up against the ambitious Conservative Candidate Shaun Bailey, who looks set to rise fast in the party should he get elected. Given Labour's defeat in the 2006 local elections here, and the expected swing in London, Bailey is the front runner but this should be close. The safe bet is on the Conservatives but it's one to watch; Tory Gain.

The final reworked constituency in this area is Chelsea & Fulham and, as mentioned, Greg Hands with be the Conservative defending this large notional majority. Hands shouldn't really have a problem; Tory Hold.


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