THE leak of a report containing those long-awaited proposed boundary changes has led to the headline-grabbing story that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North seat, a fortress of a parliamentary constituency, will be abolished. Among other alterations, the Boundary Commission’s report due out tomorrow is said to include plans to transfer two of Corbyn’s constituency wards – a couple of Labour safies around Tufnell Park – to Sir Keir Starmer’s territory in neighbouring Holborn and St Pancras. For Keir’s part, he is down to lose Highgate from his patch as well as wards south of the Euston Road, but in general Labour heads who have seen the report say the former director of public prosecutions’ position will be safer than ever.
Where will Highgate go? Apparently, it is pegged to go back to where it used to be with a re-attachment to Hampstead. The bad news for MP Tulip Siddiq, elected for the first time last May, is that she is set to lose red-dominated parts of Kilburn but gain Tory-held wards in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Her majority was only 1,138 last time, so she was always due to be a Conservative target at the next general election – but the new map is unlikely to make her defence any easier. Labour figures are already worrying the seat will actually prove ‘unwinnable’ if the changes are approved, with sources claiming that, like Corbyn, Tulip would feel like one of “the big losers in changes clearly designed to help the Tories win more seats”.
A call to Tulip’s office, however, does not find her familiarly sunny-side up aides throwing in the towel. As they analyse the report, they are pointing to the recent London election results for a pick-me-up, and ward-by-ward analysis which shows more people voted for Sadiq Khan than Zac Goldsmith in the mayoral vote in some of the wards she is gaining. With the Liberal Democrats not targeting the area with the same guns and potential as 2010, and unlikely to have a candidate with the same profile as the one Maajid Nawaz brought to the task in 2015, they believe Labour can still win a two-horse run-off.
The Tories won’t be complaining, mind. They haven’t held a parliamentary seat in these parts since 1992 when Glenda Jackson first ran them out of the House, and are desperate to reclaim Hampstead, the promised land.