Soon after I was elected MP for Montgomeryshire in 2010, I was asked by my whip what I thought of the new Coalition Gov't's proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, equalising constituency electorates at the same time. Must admit to using unparliamentary language to explain that I thought it a most unwise proposal - but that I would support a bill brought forward to implement the changes because it was a manifesto commitment. Conservatives had promised a reduction in number of MPs to 585, and the Lib Dems a reduction to 500. My concerns were that it would cause huge disruption, would be seen (unfairly) to be partisan, and would end parliamentary democracy as we've known it in the most sparsely populated areas (mid Wales).
Well, after months of bad-tempered debate, MPs passed an act to do exactly what I'd dismissed as unwise. There remains just one small step to be taken. The Boundary Commissions of England and Wales are having to redraw the map of the 600 new constituencies, with MPs nodding then through in October 2013. It was all to be a 'formality'. But Mr Nick Clegg has intervened. Because MPs refused to endorse his silly plans to reform the House of Lords, he's announced (without any justification) that as an act of revenge he's going to instruct his MPs to vote against the new boundaries - which looks as if its going to totally scupper the changes. Most Conservative MPs are outraged - but I have to admit that from a personal standpoint I am absolutely delighted.
If the new boundaries are adopted, the historic seat of Montgomeryshire would be ripped asunder, with the bits cast upon the four winds. My view is that parliamentary democracy as we understand it would be obliterated in mid-Wales. Locally, I have made it clear that I could not be a candidate in 2015. All my adult life I've worked for the interests of Montgomeryshire, and I could not face starting all over again in a seat which covers a huge chunk of North Wales, attractive though it is. I wouldn't even live in the constituency!
So let us consider the crazy position we are now in. All main political parties have decided to begin adopting candidates for the 2015 General Election on the current boundaries in two months time. Later this month, I will inform the Montgomeryshire Conservative Association that I would like to be considered for selection as their candidate. No doubt, the Association will begin planning and campaigning. And then towards the end of next year, (well into our campaign plans) we will have a vote in Westminster about whether we should introduce new boundaries, wiping Montgomeryshire and other equally loved constituencies from the electoral map - with all parties starting again and selecting a whole new slate of candidates. Its such a bizarre situation that I'm not confident I'll be able to explain it to anyone. Equally bizarre will be the position of the current Montgmeryshire MP if he's faced with a 3-Line Whip from his party to vote for new boundaries and an instruction from his constituency association to vote against! Even I'm beginning to find this whole scenario difficult to grasp. So better stop now.