Saturday, January 02, 2016

Redrawing constituency boundaries.

Quite a bit of publicity today about the redrawing of UK Parliamentary constituency boundaries. Very few people know what it's all about. So here's my take. You may be able to deduce that I'm not a happy bunny.

 It all started because the voters did not like MPs. They rather approved of reducing their number. Probably still do. So before the 2010 General Election, David Cameron promised to try to do just what they seemed to want - cutting the 650 down to 600. After becoming Prime Minister in 2010 his new Lib Dem-Conservative Gov't introduced a bill to implement this change. An Act of Parliament was passed to give it effect. But the Act, after Royal Assent required a vote to approve the boundaries to the 600 new constituencies to enable implementation. These constituencies had to be closely aligned in size (population that is). The boundary commissions of England and Wales set to work and came forward with their proposals. It all seemed done and dusted. But their Lorships down the corridor decided to put a spoke in the wheel (quite outrageously) and introduced an amendment which delayed the vote on the new constituency boundaries for 5 yrs - until 2018. And that's where we are now. In two years time, many of our old historical constituencies are scheduled to disappear, laying down their lives at the altar of 'equalisation' (supposed) and 'fairness' (supposed).

The changes in Wales will be more radical that anywhere else. I'm not one bit happy about this, but it's difficult to argue against it. There has been a history of over-representation in Westminster from Wales. And much governing responsibility has been devolved to the Welsh Assembly. While the reduction in MPs in total is to be about 10%, the reduction of Welsh MPs is likely to be over 25% - from 40 to 29. And the Boundary Commission for Wales does not have nearer the same level of flexibility to create 'natural' constituencies. There will total devastation of our Parliamenary constituencies map. Just typing out these words brings a tear to my eye!!

The Conservative Party is generally keen on this change, even if I'm not. The existing boundaries give a totally unjustifiable advantage to Labour. In fact, I'd expect every non-Conservative MP to vote against adopting the new boundaries in 2018. It maybe that some Conservatives will also vote against. And there is only a very small majority. So we Conservative MPs are being told that "No Tory will be left behind". So far, no-one has told me what this means in practice. Wonder whether offering me a seat in Valleys Central if Montgomeryshire is abolished countsa
 as not being left behind!!! We shall see. And the observant amongst you will notice that I have not committed myself to voting for this change. Ok, so the 2010 General Election was fought on a manifesto commitment, the logical conclusion of which did not retain Montgomeryshire as a constituency,  the Lib Dem Coalition Govt agreed on it and the Conservative 2015 General Election was fought knowing the position. All I will add is that I'm not at all certain this change is going to go through. Wonder how many turkeys voted for the Christmas festivities we have all just enjoyed.


Anonymous said...

A few Tory losses in Wales. A lot of Labour losses in England. Dave will continue to grow the Lords so there may well be a berth there for you.

Anonymous said...

I assume you voted for the original motion back in the days of the coalition. The Act suggests new constituencies of between 72,810 and 80,473 voters. Currently there are 48,910 registered voters in Montomeryshire so it was clear that Montgomeryshire as an entity would probably go. With a maximum of 30 Welsh seats and rigid formula for constituencies the Boundary Commission will have little choice but to change the current map considerably. A little thought about the challenge set for the Commissioners by parliament will show they will have to start at the four corners of Wales and work to the middle making adjustments as they go. So parts of Montgomeryshire could end in several constituencies.I guess it was a Tory party manifesto commitment - diwedd y gan!

Anonymous said...

It is also about fairness. When you add the electorate of Montomeryshire to the electorate of Brecon & Radnorshire the number of voters comes to 102,792. The constituency of the Isle of Wight, the largest constituency in the UK has 110,924. Eight thousand more voters. You can't justify that difference because the boundary of Montgomeryshire was drawn just after the end of the Middle Ages and can never be changed.