Boundary Commission Proposals would rig democratic system against Labour

The Boundary Commission has presented its final recommendations which could see the number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600 in time for the 2020 general election to Parliament. Some high-profile names could see their seats lost or merged, including Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbot, David Davis, and Boris Johnson.

The proposals need to secure the backing of MPs and Peers. Parliament has already backed the proposal to reduce the number of MPs in 2011. However, there no longer appears to be the same support in Westminster for the plans, and a cross-party committee does not believe that enough MPs will support the proposal. The idea to reduce the number of MPs was originally formed by David Cameron in 2009 in the wake of the expenses scandal and just before the policy of austerity. The last time the boundaries were reviewed was between 2004 and 2006, in time for the 2010 election.

The Boundary Commission for each nation is supposed to redraw political maps every five years to take into account changing populations. New proposals were supposed to have been put in place between 2010 and 2015 but was dropped in 2013 after the Liberal Democrats, then in a coalition government, withdrew their support. As well as reducing the number of MPs, it is also the commissions aim to make constituencies more equal in size, and the constituency sizes will look more even, but the discrepancy with First Past the Post will remain.

Labour have accused the Conservatives of attempting to gerrymander the democratic process due to the fact the new constituencies massively favour the Conservative Party.

As reported by TPN earlier this summer, the changes could hand the Tories a potential 40 seat advantage, even if both parties won 38% of the vote. Labour would also be disadvantaged in winning majorities under the new proposals Labour would need an eleven-point lead to win a majority, the Tories, just two. Thus, if the government was successful in pushing these proposals through, there would be very little chance of a majority Labour government.

The extra Tory advantage is seen in taking a look at the 2017 election results with the new boundaries. The Tories would have been delivered to power with an 8 seat majority, with the DUP unaffected. In percentage out of the larger parties the Tories and SNP benefit, the two parties that are already the most overrepresented in Parliament.

The proposals may not pass as with the Progressive parties being disadvantages it will only take a few Tory or DUP rebels to defeat the bill. With some Tories set to lose their seat, some might be inclined to vote down a bill that would lose them their job.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said the new proposals would rig the democratic process tweeting:

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

It’s gerrymandering, pure and simple. These changes should not have been proposed. The Boundaries Commission is supposed to be an independent organisation but these proposals are a clear sign that the commision had been compromised by political agendas. Indeed, the sudden way in which the DUP have been excluded from changes since the Tories formed a tawdry coalition symbolises the blatant corruption.

They need to go back to the drawing board and draft proposals that ensure seat totals are representative of the vote share. If these changes were ever enforced, the calls to move away from FPTP would get much louder.

I expected Theresa May to pass boundary changes before calling any election, just as Labour would be wise to pass their ‘Votes for 16s’ bill before the next GE, but that was not the case. She may now face a tricky battle to finalise her gerrymandering. The proposal is an open perversion of democracy.

The proposals are a joke and must not make it through Parliament, any MP who votes for the changes shows blatant disregard for democracy.

I encourage readers to act to stop this, contact your MP and tell them to vote against any changes to the boundaries of constituencies that act to gerrymander our elections. 

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Peter Budd

Peter is currently studying an MA in History at Cardiff University. He focuses on social and labour history of the 19th century, up to the First World War. He is a current member of the Labour Party. He also writes for Gair Rhydd, the Cardiff University student newspaper, and does some rugby related writing.

Peter Budd has 10 posts and counting. See all posts by Peter Budd

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