600 seats

I’ve written a lot about AV over recent days, what about the boundary review. Now we know the new target number of seats upon which the quota will be set (600), the tolerance that will be allowed either side of that quota (5%), and the exceptions that will be allowed (the Western Isles, Orkney & Shetland and a cap by area), we can take some guesses at what the overall impact will be.

The North East is rather tricky to fit into the new quotas. Northumberland only qualifies for 3 seats (while Berwick-upon-Tweed is a large, underpopulated seat, it doesn’t come close to the geographical limit!), but they would be grossly overpopulated so would need to be paired with one or more Tyne and Wear Boroughs. Durham could be divided into 6 seats, but the Cleveland Boroughs need to be paired with it if not to produce oversized seats. We’d end up with 14 seats in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, down 2, and 12 seats in Cleveland and Durham, down 1.

In Yorkshire North Yorkshire would not lose anything, and would presumably have only minor changes. Humberside would lose 1 seat, as would both South and West Yorkshire.

The North West is also relatively straightforward on paper, Merseyside would lose 2 seats, Cheshire would lose 1, Lancashire would lose 1, Manchester would lose 1 and so would Cumbria. In practice there are probably some tricky problems to solve. The Wirral would currently get three seats, but they would be just above the 5% limit, so unless the quota has risen by December 2010 (or the population of the Wirral fallen), the spectre of a cross-Mersey seat would rise again. Cumbria is also probably also going to be tricky to divide into 5 neat seats.

In the East Midlands, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire would retain 10 and 7 seats, so would probably have only minor changes. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire would both lose a seat. Northamptonshire would qualify for 7 seats, but they would be too small to be within 5% of the new quota, so it would need to be paired with a neighbouring county. The most obvious candidate would be Bedfordshire to the South, which also needs to be paired to avoid undersized seats. Between them they would have 12 quota sized seats, compared to 13 currently.

In the rest of the East of England Hertfordshire and Suffolk would have only minor changes. Cambridgeshire could also be treated alone, but Norfolk needs to be paired in order to produce seats within the quota limits, and a pairing with Cambridgeshire would produce seats closest to the quota – between them the two counties would retain 16 seats. Finally for the East, Essex would need to lose 1 seat.

The West Midlands are another tricky region. Worcestershire, the West Midlands (down 3) and Staffordshire (down 1) can all be divided into seats within 5% of quota (though dividing Birmingham’s huge wards into seats within the 5% tolerance will be fun!). Shropshire and Herefordshire would need to be paired, but putting them together doesn’t help, so they would need to be dealt with together with Worcestershire (between them losing one seat). But this leaves Warwickshire too large to result in 5 seats inside the 5% limit. It could be paired with some of the Metropolitan boroughs, but a neater solution may be pairing Warwickshire with Oxfordshire, which would otherwise be oversized – together the two seats would retain their existing number of seats.

The rest of the South East should have very little disruption from the review. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Surrey could all retain the same number of seats and hit the new quota. Hampshire would lose a seat based on its own electorate, but unless an extra exception is made it will need to be paired with the Isle of Wight creating a cross-Solent seat. Between them the Isle of Wight and Hampshire will retain the same number of seats. Kent therefore becomes the only county in the South East to lose a seat.

In the South-West Cornwall will probably be upset about being paired with another county, but it is unavoidable. With an entitlement of almost exactly 5.5 seats it will need to be paired with Devon, between them having 17 seats, one down on currently. The former county of Avon will lose 1 seat, Gloucestershire will be largely unchanged. This leaves Dorset and Wiltshire where the average seat sizes will be too small, and Somerset where they will be too large. To me, the most sensible solution is pairing Wiltshire and Dorset, with Somerset paired with one or both of the parts of Avon originally drawn from Somerset. The result will be that Avon/Somerset lose one seat between them, and Dorset/Wiltshire lose one seat between them.

London as a whole will have 70 seats, down from 73. There are obviously a large number of possible pairings of Boroughs to get to this point.

Northern Ireland will lose 3 seats.

Wales will suffer the harshest reduction in seats, down from 40 to 30 as its quota comes into line with the quota elsewhere in the country. Once again, there will be some tricky decisions for the boundary commission. My guess is Gwynedd will need to be linked with Clwyd (losing 3 seats between them), Powys will need to be linked to some other county – perhaps Gwent. The ERS’s stab at what sort of result boundary changes might produce had a rather odd link between Powys and Dyfed, which looks unlikely, but does make the maths work nicely. Either way, most of the rest of Wales will need to be linked up and there are various ways it might pan out.

Finally, Scotland would have a quota of 51 seats, down from 59. However, we know there are exceptions to the rules for the Highlands and Islands. These mean that the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland retain their current undersized seats. The Highlands are entitled to 2 seats based on the quota (though they would be more than 5% from the quota, so it would need to be paired.) In practice, I think it would be impossible to come up with a solution that didn’t involve a seat larger than the current Ross, Skye and Lochaber, which is to be the statutory geographical limit on size, so the Highlands will probably retain three seats (one possible solution that kept all the seats within 5% of the quota and under the geographical size of RS&L would be to put the south of the current RS&L with the undersized Argyll and Bute, then splitting the remainder of RS&L between the other two highland seats – I think one would still end up being too large geographically though. With the Highlands and Islands taken care of, the rest of Scotland would be entitled to 48 seats, producing a total of 52 or 53, down 6 or 7.

263 Responses to “600 seats”

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  1. I would be interested to know who was the responsible for changing the proposal from 585 seats to 600. I know it’s only a small change but it’s perhaps no surprise that the target was revised upwards rather than downwards.

  2. Anthony,

    excellent post

    It is hard not to not conclude that Labour heartlands are to bear the brunt of these changes. Until now my own hunch was that the highlands and isles would ofset any disproportionate harm to red numbers in Scotland but even there they are set to lose out.

    Tyne and Weir is very interesting…. there is a big difference. Yellows are making inroads in the former but reds remain strong in the latter… my hunch is that one of the sunderland seats is almost surely for the chop…

    Interesting to note that even as we move down England things dont look good for reds… I wonder if Pugh’s seat is safe in Mersyside…. that might be a convenient yellow loss for Clegg, not that I am suggesting (nor have I ever done) that there are ulterior motives…. Afterall, they can simply make deptutations to the various electoral commissions…

    On that point are they all to be governed by the same regulations? I mean this especially now in terms of who sits on the panels…. The catchment for personnel has thus far been quite eclectic (I say this with experience of our own in NI).


    Regarding the three NI seats… Belfast it has been said for some time will lose one… west of the Bann will lose one and possibly East Londonderry although that one is much harder to call….

  3. While I agree that the BC will pair counties, I can’t see any way they will be willing to pair counties across regional boundaries: I suspect Northants and Bedfordshire will NOT be paired, nor Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

  4. @Ben Foley
    “I can’t see any way they will be willing to pair counties across regional boundaries”

    Regional boundaries do not exist, they are just a convention for certain analysis purposes. I have seen old geoography textbooks where all four of the counties you mention were classed as being in the ‘South Midlands’.

  5. @ Éoin,

    If anybody could be bothered looking back, I said Scotland would lose 6 or 7 seats at the most when other posters were saying at least 12.

    The SNP will not be happy; nor will the Dems because I reckon Labour won’t be the only loser. 8-)

  6. I think it will be much more difficult to beat it through the HoC as the coalition thinks, though it certainly doable.

    Clegg (I would rather say him than the coalition) made four mistakes. Firstly, it’s lumped together with other proposals (most notably with AV), which gives the opportunity to many amendments. It will mean testing loyalties amendment by amendment. Labour can utilise it – if it wants to.

    The second is that there is no way of debating it before the summer recess, but I would be surprised if it is allowed through without a debate – such a debate would coincide with a new Labour leader and also with the spending review. Not too difficult to see how it could be utilised.

    The third that it hurts all the parties outside of the coalition (if I understood AW’s summary well – although it could be uncomfortable to the LibDems in Wales). It can be exploited even in popular sentiments – us and them.

    Finally, while people may buy the “cheaper HoC” argument (doubt it, to be honest), they will not necessarily take kindly for so many changes (here in Liverpool you can still hear many complaints about the last boundary changes).

    I start to develop conspiracy theories about the coalition, about the relationship between Clegg and LibDems. Better stop these. I will just put down the potential outcome to lack of government competence in Clegg and very clever approach by DC.

  7. Colin and Richard – many thanks for your supportive comments – much appreciated.

    Amber – As a Lib Dem candidate in Northampton is a long term friend – i did tell you during the election your claim was nonsense – its called stating facts rather than posting anti tory messages.

    My point on AV is simple, presumably 6 months before the election you were against it, as Lab were, until they realised they might need Lib Dem support to win a 4th term……And to state you will support the party line , which you admit is not confirmed, and not support on your beliefs is frankly amazing.

    By the way you are not an mp (who are free to campaign for or against AV) so what exactly is wrong in my comments last night asking you to have your own opinions.

    For every friend you say voted Cons or Lib Dems and now regret it – i could quote many who actually understand the mess we are all in, who are not in denial, and wish the coaltion well.

  8. This all seems very sensible and pretty much with how the Boundary Commissions operate at the moment. For example, although the guidelines included not crossing London Borough boundaries; they’ve been pairing up LBs for years to make the numbers fairer.

    The problems arise in drawing up the boundaries within the new county groupings. I’ve been expressing deep cynicism about these boundary changes since they were first mooted and the only improvement in today’s announcement was that the rumoured 3% variation limit on constituency registration was changed to 5%. This still isn’t going to give the BCs enough flexibility.

    If you look at current boundaries only 168 of the English seats fall in the new limits – 365 outside. And many of the 168 will be affected because of adjacent constituencies.

    For example three of the four Bristol seats are within the range, but all four would be affected if you started reallocating wards and I’m not sure it’s even possible. Alternatively you could add smaller rural ward(s) from BANES to Bristol East- to possible accusations of gerrymandering a Labour marginal.

    At the moment the BCs are protected from accusations of bias by their trying to follow the local government boundaries and other factors as nearly as possible. If their first priorities becomes adding up the numbers, this paradoxically gives them more possibilities and opens them to charges of gerrymandering dependent on which they choose.

    Given that it seems to be mathematically impossible to get all seats near quota without splitting wards, adding another level of complexity; the BCs will have further accusations there. And it’s hoped to complete this in two years (the last, much more limited one took four). Then the real costs and delays come in with appeals and legal challenges.

    The government is promising the Boundary Commissions all the resources they need. I can’t help wondering how many times the £12 million pounds they’re supposed to be “saving” all this will cost. QCs don’t come cheap as Lord Saville will tell you. And as far as I can tell this is meant to be a permanent revolution with boundary changes being “more frequent”.

    I know Anthony considers me a bit of a Jeremiah on this topic, but I do think it’s a awful lot of hassle and expense for very little real democratic (or even party political) gain. I also worried that the impartiality of the BCs will be seen to be compromised and ironically the constituency link weakened.

    [Rejigged from a post on previous thread when I discovered AW had opened yet another one – he has been a busy boy today :) ]

  9. @ Dwin

    “until they realised they might need Lib Dem support to win a 4th term”

    It happened last summer – although the difference between 4 months (official announcement of the bill on referendum before the election) and 10 months (announcement of the intention) does not seem to be too big, it’s important.

    As to the party line – I’m in the fortunate situation of being free from it, but I accept that many people have it – both on the centre left, centre right, the right. I really think that personal beliefs about AV and voting is a mistaken (even if painful) alternative. It makes sense only from the perspective of wider political aims – that it is an opportunity for various purposes. The Conservatives seem to be better in this than Labour (and both are better than the LibDems, but it is a result of a particular situation of the LibDems).

    Labour would make a big mistake (it does not seem like at the moment, but they could still fall for it) if they make a party issue from it. It’s not a particularly important issue for them so they should use it as a tool to loosen the nuts in the coalition (or rather the LibDem party).

  10. Laszlo

    Agree completely with all that. I disagree only on possible conspiracy theories. But then I adhere to the mess-up theory of history (possibly because our local pols couldn’t conspire their way out of a paper bag).

    What really depresses me about the whole business is the innumeracy and gullibility of it. They misunderstood the situation and are now moving heaven and earth to correct a more or less non-existent injustice. They’re believing their own propaganda again – never a good sign! And there really are better things to do.

  11. @ Roger Mexico

    It’s a very good post (I read it in the other topic too :-) ). Would be interesting to see if the limelight deriving from AV and other issues on the boundary changes result in some public debate (unlike the previous changes).

    A very difficult call for the BC – we have to wait, I suppose, for the concrete government instructions – after the bill is approved (or rejected or stalled).

  12. @ Roger Mexico @ 2 am

    A good summary.

    I don’t believe in conspiracy, but it’s rather tempting.

    I like the term “mess-up theory of history”. Closely related to Vico’s the “trick of history” and Hegel’s “trick of the Reason-Spirit” (sorry, for bringing these guys in, but I though it’s interesting), but much more expressive, accessible and engaging.

  13. Laszlo – i am in the silent majority on AV , quite simply i do not care – my belief is that on AV or FPTP any popular government will probably be re-elected and quite right so – and any unpopular government will be kicked out (unless Neil Kinnock) the same way.

    But more important i fundamentally do not understand some posters on here and a proportion of the wider electorate who would support their party line at all costs – even if they disagree, or if their policy changes position – it gives the impression you can not form your own opinion until the party policy is announced.

    I could give you examples of all parties at the GE, who now have done a complete u turn or dropped the policy or will not confirm a previously stated policy – that is politics in a mere few weeks.

    I have always taken the principle that i have my own opinions i listen to the arguements from all sides, and can decide good and bad policies of all parties – it is called common sense, Would i criticise constantly for party political reasons a government of 7 weeks – NO.

    Do i agree with cutting school building and refurbishment programmes – NO.

    Colin and Richard will not always agree with me along with many others but at least they bring a little bit of balance to the majority on here who can not accept and will not accept a coalition government is trying to sort the uk out as fairly as possible, it is never fair.

    Finally AD himself accepted pre GE that 15 – 20% cuts would be reqd across the board. Now Lab are ring fencing everything and ignore the debt – That is not responsible – it is simply opposition politics and it is shameful.

  14. @ DWIN

    You just keep coming back for more don’t you? Having an MP as a long-term friend doesn’t magically turn your opinions & anecdotes into facts.

    And if you are unable to make suggestions or give advice without it being accompanied by insults, I’d prefer to muddle along without the benefit of your wisdom. 8-)

  15. The Welsh changes could well look something like this….


  16. Morning all.

    This candidate – not an mp (as they all do, regulary polls on their campaigning, being honest he stated that neither seat would turn lib dem, and he was proved 100% accurate.

    I would like to remind you of my predictions onthese pages (based on gathering information) which have probably been the most accurate on this site – but out of goodwill i will spare you.

    Let me tell you all that i have e mailed mr Gove, copies sent to PM, DPM, Chanc, Chf Sec Treas, and my mp ( a tory no less).

    To summarise i stated that rebuilding schools, colleges and hospitals has been a major achievement of the lab government (which excluding the PFIs debacle) especially in my area. Whilst i support fundamentally the need to cut debt, create jobs etc, this cancellation of 750 school projects is flawed. I put suggestions on how to overcome the problem, both short and medium term. I also stated that i would be following this email up in October, and again in March.

    Now i could have come on here slating Mr B, defended the coalition can do no wrong etc, but no i disagree with this policy and have told them so.

    Will it do any good, probably not, was it a waste of time, probably yes. … But you see i refuse to be a flag waver for the tories or lib dems. They must be held to account like any government.

    But on the plus side, i only need 3 hrs sleep a day/night, so have put some washing in and done some shopping to keep the good lady happy.

  17. A trend graph might be a god idea for AV polls. Have they been collated together in some area where I can tabulate them does anybody know?

    In addition have we polled areas that may lose a MP, whether or not they like the sound of it? I know the BCs have no reported yet so it would be guesswork but we could poll some general areas? My own in South Belfast is for a chop (Thats minus 1 seat for Labour since my MP takes the red whip)

    100 Constituencies minimum will be affected… although when you cosnider the changes that might occur in London and Birmingham it is likely to be even more…..

    1/6 seats is a hefty number…..

  18. There would be civil rioting in Wales if they lost 25% of their seats. Politically, the government can’t get into such a fight. It would lose and Orange Peter Hain would win.

    Instead, I predict a 10% reduction all round with Scotland, Wales and NI having 53, 36 and 16 respectively. England woulh have 480 under this formula but if 20 seats were added back, the current inbalace would be lessened. The UK total would then be 605 seats.

  19. David,

    We (NI) are sure to lose 3. I think with the 5% rule on equalisation, Anthony’s surmises where a little better than guesswork.

    It is relatively easy to spot a small constituency…

    You have put an idea in my head mind you…

    Are we basing it on the 2001 census? (If so what about the Poles :) ) And secondly do we base it on the electoral roll? I apoligise because these have been answered before – it is just that in University areas with transient populations, it must be dynamite to sort this kind of thing out.

  20. I find it interesting the exceptions like the Western Isles. In Australia the federal seat of Kalgoorlie is about 90% of Western Australia – or getting close to a large part of Europe. It is looked after by just the one member of parliament.

    How is this possible? Simple–that seat has specific allowances attached to it which are not attached to other Parliamentary seats. So, massive travel allowances, living away from home, use of plane etc. Surely this would be the sensible way to integrate the Western Isles and Orkney seats?

  21. Eoin – actually, we can be quite confident about a lot of this. We know the mechanisms the boundary commissions go through in deciding how many seats go where, it’s just a case of doing the maths.

    Obviously the numbers on the electoraral register will change by December, but that will mostly affect areas that are near a tipping point (so counties that just sneak within the 5% tolerance may end up outside it, or vice-versa).

    The pairings of counties are speculative of course – some we can be confident of (Cornwall will almost definitely be paired with Devon, Northumberland almost certainly with one or more of the Tyne and Wear Boroughs), others I think there is a strong likelihood of, depending on what criteria the BC use (pairing Cambs with Norfolk, for example, will lead to seats much closer to the quota than pairing it with Suffolk, a criterion which the BC seems to have used when pairing London boroughs in the past).

    Other pairings, like Dorset & Wiltshire, could turn out to be completely wrong. I’ve also not gone near doing stuff within London, or talking about what seats might change beyond the geographical oddities since, while it is a rather fun exercise, there are so many hundreds of options it really can’t be more than that.

  22. “The rest of the South East should have very little disruption from the review. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Surrey could all retain the same number of seats and hit the new quota.”

    LMAO, well blow me down, that’s a surprise!!

  23. Anthony,

    Re-read my post. I said “a little better than guesswork” not as i think you read it “little better”. :)

    I do see how it is possible to do the math and arrive at a fair idea (with the exception of city concurbines) of what the BCs will decide.

    I had a post much higher up the list with a few queries on it, if you get a chance I would appreciate it. :)

  24. “Hampshire would lose a seat based on its own electorate, but unless an extra exception is made it will need to be paired with the Isle of Wight creating a cross-Solent seat.”

    And there is absolutely no way whatsoever that Islanders would accept being part of a seat that includes part of the mainland. The Isle of Wight has a very unique sense of it’s own identity and the mainland is treated with distrust at the best of times. It’s very like Cornwall in that respect.

  25. I am entirely philosophical, Greengrass would be proud.

    If this turns out to be a way of trying to swipe 58 seats away from Labour, then it simply won’t happen.

    If it turns out the BC can do it fairly, then fine.

    As has already been posted, several regions simply won’t accept the changes if too dramatic and I imagine the last thing the coalition want is MORE battles when the cuts really are going to be so controversial already.

    I personally refuse to be distracted by such a pointless set of proposals (all of ’em it would seem, AV, 5 year terms, seat reductions) when we are facing the most radical political period of my generation.)

  26. Sue,

    Greengras would be proud :)

    The regions will have no choice. There is no referendum on the reduction and it was in both yellow and blue manifestos

  27. @ Sue
    “If this turns out to be a way of trying to swipe 58 seats away from Labour, then it simply won’t happen. ”

    why won’t it happen ? how can several regions do anything about it ? this democracy.if it goes through parliament it will happen. The BC may feel this judgment is fair given if the election result percentages were reversed Labour would have a 60 seat majority.Just because you do not like does not mean it will not happen.
    The system appears very unfair now and anything that means one party does not have to get 10 percentage points more than another to get 1 seat more is flawed ,hence the apparant need for change.

  28. Eoin – I just don’t think the coalition will want too many more battles. If this can be done fairly, then fine, if not, then I trust democracy to sort it all out.

    If it can’t be done fairly, then it is indeed gerrymandering and that simply won’t happen.

    I *heart* Amber and refer all to her comment of last night about boundary tweaks.

  29. @ Sue Marsh
    “The rest of the South East should have very little disruption from the review. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Surrey could all retain the same number of seats and hit the new quota.”
    LMAO, well blow me down, that’s a surprise!!

    Made me chuckle.

    Maybe Labour should change its slogan, instead of asking voters to come home it should ask them to go to the home counties.

  30. Sue,

    Where probelms could arise is when MPs are asked to vote themselves out of a seat….

    The question is are enough blues and yellows willing to vote to keep themselves in a job

    the 18 NI MPs will vote against it
    SNP and PC will
    Labour will
    I presume C Lucas will

    It means the likes of Pugh, C Kennedy and other scottish Libs will have to defy Clegg

    Interesting indeed

  31. Two strange sentences in Clegg’s speech yesterday:

    “That means that, in the event of a vote in favour of AV, the 2015 General Election will be held on the new system, and according to new boundaries. Let me be clear: these are complimentary changes – the outcome of the referendum is put in place as the new boundaries are put in place.”

    The word “complimentary” seems to be a problem. Although he did not state the alternative to his first sentence, but if the two measures are complimentary, then a failure in the referendum would make the boundary changes redundant.

    I know that by formal logic it does not follow, but it looks like a small problem.

    Speech-writers’ mistake?

  32. @Laszlo
    I think you may be clutching at straws a little. Everyone knows that the boundary changes will go through – they will be backed overhwelmingly by Conservatives and if the Lib Dems don’t like them and vote against then they will not get the AV referendum and the coalition is dead. It is a very clever package worked out by Cameron and Clegg.

    At least one newspaper has picked up your point: Clegg has presented the AV referendum as part of a complete package of reforms to the political system – which is bound to make some conservative MP’s uncomfortable.
    The logic re the AV referendum is that Cameron and Clegg do not get too involved. They are giving people the opportunity to decide.

  33. MichaelB – Thank you for your comments. I refer you to Anthony’s side bar comments on electoral bias which I’m sure will help you to understand the current situation.

  34. @ Pete B

    Regional boundaries still do exist, and the BC knows about them very well, since they are boundaries of European Constituencies. And it is quite clear that the BC don’t like crossing existing political boundaries if they can avoid it, and the higher up the heirachy of boundaries, the less willing they are to cross it (and they appear to be more willing to cross administrative than political boundaries anyway, so the loss of the administrative connection doesn’t register much with the BC).

    Even the most illogical of the current regional boundaries, between the now abolished Humberside, south of the Humber, and the East Midlands region, is 100% respected by the BC even though the ceremonial county of Lincolnshire now crosses the regional boundary, and the BC have been more bothered about the ceremonial county boundaries than administrative boundaries.

    Yes, the regions are also used ‘for certain analysis purposes’, but they do exist as political boundaries by being EP constituency boundaries. I don’t disagree that all four of Warks, Northants, Oxon and Beds will at some time have been classed as being in the ‘South Midlands’, but since the institution of the EP constituencies the regional boundaries have been solidified (and will remain so even with abolition of development agencies, Govt Offices for the regions etc). There was never, so far as I am aware, a standardised contiguous way of classifying regions that included all four counties in ‘South Midlands’. The history of the last 12 years-or-so, I think has solidified the regional boundaries.

    @ Gaf the Horse
    It might be that the populations of IoW and Cornwall kick up a fuss, but given that the ONLY way the aim of 600 more equally-sized constituencies (within 5%) can be acheived is by crossing these boundaries, and that none of the exceptions apply, they will be crossed if the proposal to reduce to 600 more equally-sized constituencies is passed into law unamended.

  35. @ JohnT

    Of course, I splitting hairs :-). I have absolutely no hope in this.

    But nevertheless it’s a mistake in the “historic speech”. I guess the origin of the mistake is that the Tories made the boundary changes a condition for the AV referendum, hence the tying of the two things. Of course they can be untied, but there is a political load for the LibDems.

    I am waiting for the Act because in the speech there were many claims that left uncertainty. For example that the boundary revisions will be more frequent than previously.

  36. JohnT – Lol, yeah, we’ll all have to move to Berkshire and Surrey. But that’s OK, cos IDS is proposing just that isn’t he? All those urban unemployed are to be shipped to leafy suburbs for work?

    Laszlo – I believe Anthony said he had to clarify later on that the two were not linked.

  37. Within cities they use rivers to demarcate constituency boundaires

    Tyne, Trent, Lagan are three examples…

    As far as I read it the BC will continue to use these rivers as a natural boundary..

    It is why I think three sunderlands will be conflated into two

    South and West Belfast will be conflated into one

    what Id like to knwo is peoples thoughts on potential changes in Ken clarke’s constiuency? The plebians mostly live the other side of the river trent… although his side has seeen some population growth with suburban dwellers

    Likewise North Glasgow has seen some recent growth therfore I forsee Glasgow east going (or at least being conflated into one)

  38. @ Dwin @ 2.38 am

    I respect your stance.

  39. @ Eoin

    The question is are enough blues and yellows willing to vote to keep themselves in a job

    If the Blues don’t vote for it they won’t get their cherished boudary changes. If the yellows don’t vote for it they won’t get their AV referendum.

    Also there will be some retirements at the next election. Those Cons, and LD MP’s who are likely to losse their seats in the boundary changes (and there are not that many) could be offered first option on any vacancies as a result of retirement.

    I expect their to be some ammendments, for instance I would not be surprise to se the referedum date changed, but I think it will go through in some form or another eventually.

  40. @Sue
    thank you for your reply.FYI I am perfectly aware or the stipulations regarding electoral bias.I am sure you more than anyone YOU would be expert in pointing this out.
    Fortunately my comment did not qualify for “electoral bias” moderation

  41. @Ben Foley

    I take your point about the EU constituencies being recognised as regions, though I don’t see why the boundary commission for the UK parliament should respect those boundaries. You could well be right that they will, though.

  42. Worse case scenario the AV and Boundary changes tilt things in blue favour….

    the nature of Labour electoral victories are usualyl pretty emphatic. Thus if it came to pass that the electoral decided to remove blues then none of this would make a blind bit of difference…

    There is one immediate benefit as far as I can see… we are likely to see smaller majorities in the future… gone are the whopping 179s. The decline in presidential government that will surely follow both AV and a reduction in the number of MPs can only be a good thing… we are all democrats afterall

  43. @Eoin

    Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? I completely agree tht huge electoral majorities have been bad for democracy in this country.

  44. @ Laszlo
    Thanks for the compliment, but the “mess-up theory” was because I knew I wouldn’t get c*ck-up past Anthony’s electronic maiden-aunt. :)

    @ Dwin
    I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways – cuts mean cuts and not building new schools is one of the easiest ways to do it. Labour’s schemes seemed to be based on building-more-schools-and-hospitals as a virility symbol and was expensive and wasteful (and I think mainly off balance sheet with PFI). It meant some good and useful buildings got demolished or sold. Not continuing the programme was one of the coalition’s easier decision and now building any new school has become difficult.

    As cuts go remember you ain’t seen nothing yet. I’m not picking on you (and Amber I think you insomniacs shouldn’t be fighting among yourselves ;) ) but I think you eloquently represent the views of literally millions of people and you’ll find the government’s reliance on cuts rather than tax rises will have a lot of consequences worse than this.

    @ Thomas Evans
    Thanks for the reference – you work fast in Wales don’t you? That must have been produced days after the coalition agreement and I can’t help noticing that a small charity like ERS Wales can produce something quicker, more thorough and better looking than many government bodies. Can’t help wondering if the two Tories who will lose their seats will be enthusiastic about the new system

    @ Eoin
    I think you’ll have problems finding 100 constituencies that won’t be affected! As far as I know figures will be based on new 2011 electoral rolls produced this December. The coalition is also speeding up the move to individual registration – of course if that produces wildly different figures the BCs are going to have more problems. (Censuses are never used).
    EU nationals (except Malta, Cyprus and Ireland who get full voting rights) can only vote in local and Euro elections. Oddly enough I think this also applies to member of the House of Lords. They should appear in the electoral roll with a symbol next to them (it used to be “L”). Whether many bother to register and if the LA’s bother to chase them I don’t know.
    By the way, young man, I seem to remember that that you aren’t on the register. Did you know that disqualifies you from Labour Party membership? Down to City Hall today! :)

  45. @ MichaelB

    Sue may have left so I will reply on her behalf. Sue was not talking about partisan comments.

    If you go to the top left hand of your screen, Anthony has a section called “Articles & Faqs” within that section there is a sub-section: “Electoral Bias” which explains, in detail, the effects of the existing boundaries being ‘unfair’.

    Sue was trying to direct you to interesting information provided by Anthony. 8-)

  46. Roger,

    Thanks for that

    I checked the other day (you can search the electoral roll online)

    I was on it back in 2003. Not my doing I blame my mum for that…. and I thought she was an abstentionist too. I am afraid we shall be having words :)

  47. @ Roger Mexico

    “Labour’s schemes seemed to be based on building-more-schools-and-hospitals as a virility symbol and was expensive and wasteful (and I think mainly off balance sheet with PFI). It meant some good and useful buildings got demolished or sold. Not continuing the programme was one of the coalition’s easier decision and now building any new school has become difficult.”

    Without any intention to divert the discussion from the topic, just a quick reflection.

    PFI and other off-balancesheet moves were because Labour did not dare to increase income tax. And yes, it made it relatively expensive. While there was a need to increase public investment. The UK budget is quite different in this respect (the way it treats current expenditure and investment) from other major capitalist economies (if you look at the IMF Government Statistics, the headings and the sums are completely unrecognisable compared to the Budget Act).

    They did quite a bit of that type waste (demolishing buildings and selling off sites), but on the other hand there was a need for a massive investment programme. Again the way in which the government cascades these policies to local levels creates quite unexpected outcomes (typical for bureaucratic control).

    The importance of these cuts is in the subsequent lower permanent expenditure. The UK governments (including local governments) in the last 20 years have been pretty careless with this element: not calculating the permanent increase in running cost and other expenditure associated with the activated investment (local governments used this quite effectively in bargaining with the central government).

  48. All in all a shocking attempt at Gerrymandering.

    Governments of either/any persuasion should have no say on the matter of boundaries etc..

    The whole affair should be dealt with by a fully independent body. One which not only decides what the boundaries will be, but which will work ceaselessly to create as balanced an account as possible.

    Without such, we have this tawdry affair. As others before it.

  49. @ Roger Mexico

    “(Censuses are never used).
    EU nationals (except Malta, Cyprus and Ireland who get full voting rights) can only vote in local and Euro elections. Oddly enough I think this also applies to member of the House of Lords.”

    You are correct on all points. The HoL is a hangover from times long past.

    I don’t think Labour has much chance of persuading the missing 3.5 million to register if it exists (and it may not be entirely their advantage). Of course, in spite of the law, the registration is not enforced (if anything helps to enforce it, it is the creditworthiness scoring system).

  50. @ Chris Todd

    All in all a shocking attempt at Gerrymandering.

    Why is having equally sized seats (+ or – 5%) gerrrymandering?

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