ConservativeHome has tonight (Thursday 30th March) exclusively revealed what is going on behind Scott Benton’s – the MP for Blackpool South – and two other MPs decision to move constituency for the next General Election – and explain why, according to one senior CCHQ source.
The move is described not to be a ‘chicken run’ – a maneuver by which an MP in a marginal constituency abandons their seat for a safer one. ConservativeHome say that the decision of the three MPs, including Scott Benton, to move has been based on them currently holding seats with small majorities that have been changed by the boundary review – and they have been granted permission to seek selection elsewhere.
Benton’s seat of Blackpool South is being replaced by another Blackpool South, but which now includes twelve wards of his current seat and four wards of Blackpool North and Cleveleys. According to Electoral Calculus, that is 75 per cent of his previous ones – and give it a 98 per cent chance of going to Labour.
The boundary review has seen a number of MPs affected by changes to their constituency boundaries, or the disappearance of their seats entirely – with Suella Braverman a high-profile example. But Conservative Headquarter’s (CCHQ) decision as to whether an MP has been displaced – and can therefore apply for a seat elsewhere – is up to a panel headed by Peter Booth, the Chairman of the National Convention, and upon which Greg Hands, the Party Chairman, does not sit. The panel also includes representatives of the 1922 Committee.
MPs who believe they have been displaced must make a presentation to the panel as to why they believe they should be allowed to apply elsewhere – including, if they so choose, maps of constituency boundaries, ward changes, and the like. If the panel agrees with their assessment, they will then be granted permission to apply elsewhere.
Hence why, according to a senior CCHQ source, “there is no chicken run”. As they told ConservativeHome, “if they have not been displaced, they cannot go elsewhere”. Any MP sitting on a tight majority who looks upon, say, Bromsgrove or Broxbourne covetously, but cannot convince the panel that they have been sufficiently shafted by boundary changes, will therefore be out of luck.
The problem this raises for CCHQ is that ‘displaced’ is in the eye of the beholder – or, more specifically, Booth and his panel. ConservativeHome can disclose that Benton and two other MPs have all been judged by the panel to have been ‘displaced’.
ConservativeHome say they will leave it up to readers (and Conservative MPs and activists) to decide whether they agree with the panel’s metric of ‘displacement’. One thing is for sure – other MPs facing disadvantageous boundary changes will certainly be interested.
A question that follows is whether under Party rules the displaced three will now automatically be entitled to make the shortlist of any new seat that they apply for in their region.
Cut and run Scott. Now’s your chance. It seems nobody wants you around here; not even your own Party.
Benton is an ignorant turd
I’m sure there will be some in bred Tory shire stupid enough to have him represent their narrow bigoted interests.
Very surprising that Blackpool would elect a Tory.
Labour must be truly woeful.