A dead vice-president and the new Welsh political map
- 11 January 2012
- From the section Wales politics
Elbridge Thomas Gerry was the fifth vice-president of the United States, a job one of his successors described as "not worth a bucket of warm spit".
The word originally used may have been different from spit, although it has the same number of letters, but you get the drift.
Vice-President Gerry died in office but we must hope it was some consolation that he is one of the few politicians whose name lives on centuries after his death.
Gerrymandering refers to his redrawing of the political map while governor of Massachusetts. You will hear the term a lot in Welsh political circles today.
The row over plans to cut the number of MPs from Wales by a quarter is as predictable as night following day, although the reaction to the new boundaries is rather more muted than some past predictions that the new map would destroy civilisation as we know it (I paraphrase).
Labour have used the G-word, but are privately relieved that their high-profile MPs should be able to avoid fighting each other in brutal selection contests for new seats.
Where Labour-held seats disappear, natural retirements or the House of Lords may offer a way out.
Plaid Cymru have highlighted some of the arguments put forward when the cut was initially suggested - that villages in the same community are being split and other communities are being joined despite being separated by mountains.
By way of example, Plaid say Penmaenmawr goes to the new North Wales coast seat, while Llanfairfechan goes to Menai Mon; Llanrwst goes to Gwynedd while Llanddoged goes to Menai Mon.
Plaid highlight the splitting of Cynon valley into three, with one part being added to the Rhondda constituency "despite there being a big mountain in the way and no community ties between the constituencies".
The Liberal Democrats face uncertain futures in their heartlands, but life is more complicated for their Conservative coalition partners, the architects of the cut in MPs.
The Wales Office minister David Jones - the only Welsh Tory currently a departmental minister - will see his Clwyd West seat dismembered.
There is a potential battle in Pembrokeshire between the government whip Stephen Crabb and Simon Hart.
Glyn Davies, parliamentary private secretary to the secretary of state for Wales, whose Montgomeryshire seat is carved up, said he was "hugely disappointed by the changes".
He added (via Facebook): "It's difficult to gripe because we voted for change. The people wanted less (sic) politicians, so we fought the general election saying that we would cut from 650 to 585. The Lib Dems wanted 500.
"We've actually cut to 600. Can't gripe but it still makes it hard to take."
The number of MPs may be falling, but the number of politicians is not. David Cameron has created more than a hundred peers since the general election and unless the House of Lords really is cut down to size under the coalition government there will be more politicians, not fewer.
UPDATE: One analysis suggests that had the boundaries been in place at the last general election, Labour would have lost 6 of their 26 Welsh seats, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru one each, with the Conservatives remaining on 6 seats.