Tonight I held a meeting of local public representatives to discuss the proposed new parliamentary boundaries as they effect Montgomeryshire - and at very short notice. For me the proposals are heart breaking. Montgomeryshire has always been my physical and spiritual home. Never lived or had an ancester born anywhere else. I love the place. Around 80 or so people turned up, and it seems they love it as well. With notice and advertising it would have been hundreds. Whats proposed is that Mongomeryshire should be smashed up, and the bits cast randomly on the winds, bringing parliamentary democracy as we know it to an end in Mid Wales. What seems to have happened is that the Boundary Commission did its work in North and South Wales, and then just carved up Mid Wales to make the numbers up everywhere else. When I answered a question, explaining that our area's future MPs may live and have their offices in the Swansea Valley or near the North Wales Coast, with nothing in between, they were 100% horrified. Mid Wales may well have no MP living in the entire area at all. So angry were my audience that they insisted on a vote (unanimous) to ensure I understood just what they were telling me. I promised that I would make public my response to the meeting, and that I would present my constituent's opinion to the Boundary Commission at one of its future public meetings.
One important and worthwhile point emerging from the floor was the damage this will do to the development of Wales as a nation. Since devolution I have been keen on actions which unify the different parts of Wales - e.g. improvements to the A470. Suddenly we see a position where North Wales and South Wales will be represented, but with a great chasm in between in terms of parliamentary representation. The entire room could see just how disastrous the proposals are. And the great worry is that Mid Wales is so often unthinkingly ignored, that no-one outside our area will notice the dangers. I don't suppose this occurred to the Boundary Commissioners.
And it didn't end there. My audience wanted to know what this meant for National Assembly elections. I explained that there was no immediate proposal for change, but that consideration of linking the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies may happen before the next election. The balloon went up. The almost disbelieving message from the floor was "Having totally screwed up the Parliamentary boundaries, you want to totally screw up the Assembly boundaries in the interests of coterminous convenience". And they demanded a vote on that too. 100% again. Russell George AM, who was skulking in the back, left with his arm stuck up his back as far as my arm was stuck up mine. Its wind farms all over again - Mid Wales being sacrificed. And some people still think a politician's life is a doddle.