Constituency boundaries: Be careful what you wish for

MPs in House of Commons The planned changes would cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 by 2015

"Cut the cost of politics!" "Stop the unfairness!" "Make seats equal!"

Those demands to cut the number of MPs and to ensure that they all represent roughly the same numbers of electors sounded so appealing to many Tory and Lib Dem MPs. Not so today.

Last night many of our elected representatives were not absorbed by how to revive the economy or the choice of Britain's most powerful copper.

They were, instead, hunched over maps of new constituency boundaries worrying about their futures.

This re-organisation is Westminster's equivalent of a large scale redundancy programme at the same time as a corporate re-structuring.

Some MPs are now staring defeat in the face, others are focusing on a fight to persuade the Boundary Commission to change its mind, a few are plotting how to beat their colleagues to a safe seat and most are thinking about wooing new voters in areas they have not represented before.

It is, in short, a huge distraction for all but 77 MPs.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband may be among the lucky few untouched but that does not mean they will be unaffected.

Week after week their party whips will ask "can we find something for old Bloggs to do so he makes way for minister A or shadow minister B?"

Nick Clegg's party woke up this morning to the news that all the obvious alternative leaders - Messrs Cable, Huhne and Farron - may face a struggle to stay in the Commons.

Tory advantage

Tory, Labour and Lib Dem business managers will point out that it's very hard for them to persuade ministers, let alone backbenchers, to stay in line given that they will be fighting to impress those who will now get to select the new candidate for a Little Sodbury East.

Meantime, Labour will repeat its claim that all this is electoral gerrymandering designed to deliver a few more seats to the Conservatives.

A boundary reorganisation in John Major's last two years in office helped make his life even more hellish than it already was.

PS. Ed Miliband is about to tell union leaders that he cannot reverse every Tory cut and he will not support strikes when negotiations are ongoing. Should be interesting.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Failing tory regime now so desperate they are being forced to fiddle the next election.

    Mugabe would be proud of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    “Last night many of our elected representatives were not absorbed by how to revive the economy”.

    Say it ain't so Nick; Yep, they are more interested in saving their own sorry behinds, but what more did you expect?
    This is more about saving a few bob than forwarding Democracy.

    1. Jon, The Tories aren't the only ones to be worried about the changes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    After lifelong careers spent fleecing and scamming the taxpayer they will all be fine.
    No doubt they will all wangle an "extra pension top-up" out of these boundary changes, plus a "mitigating circumstances gratuity payment"
    These people are professional welfare scammers who have spent their lives on the inside milking the system.

    As far a "democracy" is concerned the UK is a bad joke anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I maintain that Parliament & the democracy that goes with it is held in a precious trust between Sovereign & subjects.

    Its not for the Members, put there by us, to do with it entirely as they please or to grumble if we wish it to be re-ordered to the will of the people with express approval of the Monarch!

    Unfortunately, public apathy allows people to grab stuff that is not theirs to hold!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.


    Far from your charge that the Tories are attempting to "fiddle" the next election, I would say that, by evening up the constituency sizes and getting rid of a few (mainly Labour) Rotten Boroughs, all they are doing is ridding the electoral system of a quite unfair pro-Labour bias.

    Do you feel that elections should be biased towards Labour?


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