Nick Clegg: I'm delaying, not blocking boundary changes

 

"Things could look very different in 2015," said the deputy prime minister. "A new constituency map giving votes more equal weight."

That was Nick Clegg's view in August 2010 as he unveiled "My vision for a new political map and voting system". That map included plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 across the UK (and from 40 to 30 in Wales).

He told readers of the London Evening Standard: "The problem is two-fold: under the current set-up, the value of your vote is determined by where you live; and the voting system by which we elect MPs — First Past the Post — is viewed by many as deeply defective. If we want our elections to be more legitimate, we must tackle both. If we're serious about mending our broken politics, we have to get the basics right."

In October 2010, Mr Clegg told MPs: "I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. It is one of the founding principles of any democracy that votes should be valued in the same way, wherever they are cast. Over the years, all sorts of anomalies have developed, such that different people's votes are simply not worth the same in elections to this place. That surely cannot be right."

Fast forward to August 2012, and - as House of Lords reform bit the dust - Mr Clegg said he would instruct Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the boundary changes he previously thought were part of the plan to mend our broken politics.

His announcement - "I have told the prime minister that when, in due course, parliament votes on boundary changes for the 2015 election I will be instructing my party to oppose them" - led to headlines suggesting he would block or veto the changes.

That was four months ago. It now appears Mr Clegg still supports the boundary changes but merely wants to delay them - along the lines of an amendment proposed by some Lib Dem peers.

This morning, he told a committee of MPs: "I'm not suggesting you repeal the legislation, I'm just suggesting you delay it by a full parliamentary cycle."

Mr Clegg said that the coalition agreement didn't attach a timetable so his instruction to MPs was not in contradiction to the spirit and letter of that agreement.

The amendment to postpone a boundaries review until 2018 was "entirely consistent" with what he said in August.

"I'm not proposing to unpick the legislation - merely making a change in timetable."

The boundary changes have looked dead in the water for some time (the Tories are choosing parliamentary candidates on the old boundaries) but Mr Clegg's talk of a delay rather than a block held out the prospect of yet another twist in the tale.

 
David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 65.

    #64 My 'vindictiveness' as you put it consists of a resentment that whereas 80% of the population of Wales in monoglot English, they are marginalised by political parties that, whatever the labels on the tin say, are dominated by the Taffia pushing the country in one direction, in the belief that they know best.
    Where is the English-speaking politician to say 'Thus far and no further'?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 64.

    Well at least you can't blame Plaid or 'Nats' for all this change in subject. It is a Labour Government in Cardiff Bay who will be deciding on this. Same as it was a Westminster Government that brought in legislation to make the Welsh language equal to English in law. They it was who gave us a Welsh channel and Welsh Schools. So why aren't you guiding your vindictiveness against them.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 63.

    #52 'On the language issue children in Billingual Schools master other languages a lot easier '
    Oh Yeh ?

    Reference it or withdraw it. Specifically find us a source from reputable researchers that compares kids in monoglot schools with kids in bilingual schools and shows that their mastery of a third language is statistically superior.
    As they say : Put up or Shut up !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 62.

    #58 Distinguish for me:
    WLS 'is also calling for Welsh to be made an essential skill for public sector workers,' and my:
    'that all civil servants in Wales should be bilingual?'

    If I am scare-mongering, what is the WLS doing ?
    It's certainly scaring me.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 61.

    ... #56, wooodsey, I don't revel in much these days, I don't even feel a sense of satisfaction that my predictions would prove true.

    But here goes ...

    ... the enemies of the Welsh language are, indifference, Hollywood (modern entertainment), and International English (the language of Business and Diplomacy).

    How do you fight such enemies, not with a Welsh Language Commissioner for sure ..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 60.

    The questions to be answered are:
    Do these people want a multilingual society maybe like Quebec pre 'Viva La Quebecque Libre !' ?
    Do they want a closed monoglot Welsh state, with all means necessary to protect the language ? regardless of any democratic mandate. The phrase 'All true Welshmen ' will be much used.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 59.

    #55 'They haven't said they'll spend more that's an assumption by you.

    WLS ..'says it also wants the Welsh government to quadruple the amount invested in developing and protecting the language.'

    So, the Government haven't said that they will spend more money but WLS and the Commisar certainly want them to. The idea 'total immersion' implies never having to read English. Lot of translation !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 58.

    57.Boxer_the_Horse
    e.g., that all civil servants in Wales should be bilingual? Even in towns that are 99% English speaking ?

    That's not going to happen. Its scare mongering and its the thought rhetoric that you see in the Daily Mail

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    #53 '
    I agree it shouldn't be compulsory and I would never advocate that.'
    That's good but unfortunately what you and I think seems to be irrelevant. What party could I have voted for that would have brought the Welsh Language Commisar under some form of democratic control ?
    Can she demand, e.g., that all civil servants in Wales should be bilingual? Even in towns that are 99% English speaking ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 56.

    54.John Tyler

    I honestly think you revel in the fact that the number of Welsh Speakers has dropped by 1.4%.I don't think you represent the majority of people in Wales in wishing the language to die and this is bourne out with the contd increase in billingual schools. Its simple why there's a slight decline, Welsh Speaking areas are hit by inward migration.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 55.

    54.John Tyler
    They haven't said they'll spend more that's an assumption by you. Re: education. Billingual Schools score very highly in League tables so why get rid of them. Whilst education needs to improve greatly I think you'll find if you took out the Private Schools in England their achievements are not much better..If the language is affecting the Welsh NHS whats affecting the English NHS?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 54.

    ... when you get angry wooodsey you revert to using my surname alone !

    ... but back to your outrageous accusation that I "despise anything Welsh", I don't, I am very interested in how politicians are going to square spending more on a declining language, when patients are waiting for surgery, when education has dropped to new depths, will there be an expression of "the will of the people" ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 53.

    51.Boxer_the_Horse

    I agree it shouldn't be compulsory and I would never advocate that. But I also believe Religious Education shouldn't be compulsory . We in Wales should be like France Secular. My children went to a billingual school and their ability to master other languages is superb because they have the building blocks.I'd like Primary schools doing other languages as well as Welsh

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 52.

    41.John Tyler
    Tyler you despise anything WELSH. You can't accept the fact that people voted TWICE for more devolution. 2nd for more powers. The days of the Empire are over.
    On the language issue children in Billingual Schools master other languages alot easier . Read a study about advantages of being billingual its not just the language its the skills they master.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 51.

    The problem isn't with being multi-lingual. I know Finns who speak Finnish, Swedish, English and conversational German & Russian.
    The problem is the tone of compulsion: will parents in Wales under Commisar Marie be allowed to send their children to private schools.
    BTW in Catalonia 'total immersion'; kids get only 2hours a week in Spanish. A vision of the future ??

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 50.

    49.Boxer_the_Horse
    Europeans sit easily with other languages they don't need to be a monoglots like many English people.I'm sure if they are the children of multi nationals they'll be settling in North Cardiff and going to Private Schools. N.B. Barcelona they speak Spanish and Catalan, France French and Basque.Denmark they speak several langs.Being multillingual is an advantage.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 49.

    Let's face it, no-one in a large European company is going to come to Wales if they find that their 14-year-old will have to attend a Welsh-language school - or maybe live with Granny in Bordeaux. That includes English managers of Tesco, B&Q and major banks. Similarly, NHS-Wales will struggle, really struggle to fill posts. GOK about senior police jobs and the judiciary.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 48.

    ... the suggestion that Welsh to be made an essential skill for public sector workers, the tone suggests all, is in effect discriminatory in a country where the use of Welsh is declining.

    How would Silk propose to finance such an outrageous proposal ?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 47.

    Let's discuss the more serious issue of the Welsh Language Commissioner sudenly acting as though she has been appointed Public Safety Commissioner under Robespiere. Apparently 'The Language is in Danger' and nothing but control of education, housing, immigration and public services by her will save it. I failed to note any view of democratic oversite.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 46.

    ... would our MP's help translate the latest call by a minority pressure group into the "will of the people",

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-20732148

    or otherwise, a dilemma indeed !

 

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