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Black September for MPs as boundaries scramble begins

Michael Crick | 15:22 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Expect MPs to be very nervous this September. That's when the Boundary Commissions are going to make their provisional recommendations for the new, larger, Parliamentary constituencies.

The number of seats in the Commons is being cut from 650 to 600, and the size of seats being made more equal, which will require new boundaries to almost every constituency in Britain.

I have learnt that at a meeting a few days ago, representatives of the three main parties were told that the proposed new Welsh boundaries will be unveiled in the week beginning 5 September.

The new English boundaries will be announced the following week, starting 12 September.

The proposed new Scottish seats will be announced after the party conferences.

So expect frantic activity, rather akin to musical chairs, as MPs rush around trying to establish themselves in new seats, and maybe fight MPs from their own parties for nominations.

After the provisional new seats are announced, the Boundary Commissions will hold a series of hearings - "hearings" I stress, not the former system of enquiries.

Individuals and political parties will be able to make submissions to these hearings, but there will be no system of cross-examination as there was in the past at public enquiries.

And these hearings will devote very little time to each seat, since there will be up to five hearings, lasting just two days each, in each English region. I reckon that works out about six or seven constituencies a day - about an hour each.

The Boundary Commissions will take most of 2012 to consider everybody's submissions, and then revise their provisional boundaries. The revised seats will be announced around the end of 2012, or early 2013.

The final constituencies have to be decided by October, and agreed beforehand by votes in both Houses of Parliament.

And it must be far certain that both Houses will pass such a resolution.


  • Comment number 1.

    The sooner that fairness and equality is returned to the boundaries the better. For far too long there has been a massive unfair bias in favour of labour.

    2010 labour won a million fewer votes than John Major in 1997. But won 93 more seats.

    2010, Cameron won more votes and a bigger share of the vote than Blair in 2005. Yet won far fewer seats.

    2005 labour won only 35.3% share of vote. Tories 32.3% share. Labour won 158 more seats. (a 66 seat majority overall)

    2010, labour won 29% and tories 36.1% the tories only got 49 More seats than labour and failed to get a majority.

    In 2010 this country voted more strongly for a tory majority than it did for labour in 2005.

    This MASSIVE labour bias must end and FAIR EQUAL boundaries MUST be implemented.

    I think that we'll see labour arguing strongly against equality and fairness though and falsely claiming that boundaries will be "favouring the tories"

  • Comment number 2.

    Given that Scotland has it's own Parliament, can we please end the anomaly of Scottish seats having a lower electorate than England? Also can someone please explain why the Western Isles with an electorate of 32000 will have one MP whilst the normal constituency will have 79000?

    Finally can we have an answer to the "West Lothian Question"?

  • Comment number 3.

    purpleDogzzz correctly states that at recent elections there has been a built in advantage to Labour when comparing seats won to share of the popular vote. However for much of the period from 1945 to comparatively recently the same system gave the Tories a built in advantage. Regular boundary reviews help to reduce such imbalances but part of the 'problem' is due to differential turnout - without compulsory voting you can't prevent, say, fewer Labour supporters voting in safe Labour seats than Conservative supporters do in safe Tory ones. So, I predict that even if the constituency electorates are exactly equal after this review there will still be some alleged 'bias' in the system. Two things are worrying to those of us concerned about democracy in the legislation that brought about this current review. Why is the number of constituencies being arbitrarily reduced if it's not that the Conservatives will gain from it (while Cameron is stuffing the House of Lords with unheard of numbers of unelected Tory supporters at the same time). Secondly previous boundary reviews gave considerable latitude to the Commisioners to take into account local factors, such as geographical allegiances, above numerical exactness. These seem set to be ignored under the new system, so there is likely to be much indignation in many parts of the country from voters who feel themselves lumped in with the 'wrong' constituency as a result. Hardly the best way to go about improving political participation and raising pathetically low turnouts at elections.

  • Comment number 4.


    Always mor disingenuous tinkering . . .

  • Comment number 5.


    Westminster has a devious ethos - under it, parties (quasi-non-existent, notional bodies) behave unscrupulously.

    Parties amass vast war chests to BUY ELECTIONS - why else? What they buy is simple, gullible, unskilled voters. This is proved in the success of NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING.

    The mass of the people do not vote for airline pilots or surgeons - why do they vote for governments? pilots and surgeons are judged capable by competent individuals. A wannabe MP, of no great maturity in matters of humanity, through the perverse route of Westminster, can become Prime Minister and catalyse WORLD TRAUMA. Well done voters - you elevated St Tony.

    Voters need proven discriminatory skill - we need a CERTIFICATE OF VOTING COMPETENCE. There is no god-given right to vote - it is just more Westminster generated dross.

  • Comment number 6.

    What purpleDogzzz said. As for Graham, one of the most unconscionable acts of New Labour (after excelling at what Labour has always done - running out of our money, and bolstering its client state with non-jobs and mass immigration) is its failure to have regular boundary adjustments to allow for demographic changes. Australia, held up as an example for how wonderfully AV works, has them more frequently and a mechanism to trigger an assessment if a bias of 5% is determined.

    Perhaps we could also have a more representative commentariat in the BBC some time, Mr Crick. How about Andrew Neil or John Ware as a Newsnight anchor? Well, why not? The Guardian, on which the BBC spends 85% of its recruitment advertising, represents a small coterie of affluent socialists who espouse "progressivism" - at least until that word joins the others (communist, fascist, nazi, socialist) in the lexicon of failed socialist projects. Add to the Guardianistas the ex members of the SWP, RCP and Living Marxism and you have what has been analysed in the USA as an unholy influence on general elections worth an estimated 10%. Are you a democrat? Do you really want the fairness so espoused in the BBC scriptures?

    Did you know, Mr Crick, that Lefties outnumber conservatives in journalism by 5 to one in the USA? Does Newsnight have a similar poll for Britain? But at least the US have Fox to redress some of the balance. We have the monolithic, metropolitan BBC, for whom it is a crime not to support. How about a few Littlejohns and Brogans in the BBC?


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