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. EOIN

    Sheps in Pyrmont

    Someone posts that very post every other day

    yellows are yellows in outlook, geography and class…

    It is like saying the conservatives are not tories

    I know the various deviations they have taken but they;ll always be viewed as yellows from the c.1830 to this very day

    have you taken the njght off, it is ussauly you having a go at the yellows. anyway thanks

  2. Richard,

    If only you knew the soft spot I had for yellow.

    Charlie K, William ewart are two of my favourite politicians.

    The present character needless to say is not… so it is nothing except a personal gripe…

    :)

    richard, unlike all the other reds I have been consistent on N Clegg. When it looked to some like he might do a deal with reds – Cleggie was their man. I took the road less travelled by. :)

  3. “AV may have meant Blair and Labour may not have got in…”

    Studies at the time (search for 1997 election AV) showed that if the 1997 election had been held using AV, Labour would have won 436 seats instead of the 419 they actually won so that’s very doubtful.

  4. Frederick Stansfield:

    “Westminster has fewer posers for Scotland than England?”

    Some of our posers are in the SP.

    “I get the impression that there are some pretty happy Highlanders flying down to Westminster every week already, getting a good salary even though most of their constituency responsibilities have been devolved to Edinburgh.”

    Shortly after devolution a soon to retire MP diclosd to me that Scottish MP’ postbags are empty.

    There are two reasons: the things people write to their MP about are devolved, and the SP is designed in such a way that it takes its Founding Principles seriously.

  5. @Richard in Norway,

    More than happy to speak to LDs…but,

    not until they change their leader. :)

  6. @ Billy Bob

    You crack me up ;-)

    I’m wondering if the Boundary commission staff belong to a union. Maybe they will go on strike & refuse to implement the review. 8-)

    BTW, Before any Tories have a rant – I’m joking :-)

  7. @ Dwin

    “I suspect the electorate will be surprised that this is not already the case – let alone not agree they should be. And any poll that asked the question do you support reducing the number of mps would i think be overwhelming.”

    You are probably right on both accounts.

    This is why it is incomprehensible for me the Labour reaction (especially Straw’s – OK he had to respond, but he must have known what was in the proposals). I hope, for their own interest, Labour returns to proper politics: finding the politically weak points in the announcement (such as linking AV with the constituency changes); finding allies for undermining certain clauses of the incoming Act (wouldn’t be too difficult: timing of it). These could be easily done – old politics…

    But most importantly, deciding on the goal of the Labour Party in relations to the Reform Act (in the last two weeks or so, Labour has been bogged down taking on the government’s measures one by one – with this they fall for the trap set up by the Coalition: dripping measures once or twice a day. This is deliberate by the Tories (I discount LibDems in this). Because Labour reacts them one by one, they could appear to the electorate as a particularly stubborn, unpleasant child.)

    So – if the Labour Party wants to play the opposition game in this, they will loose. It won’t be comprehensible for the electorate and they would waste the patience of the public opposing things (that is their justified opposition will be less effective in important questions).

    If the Labour Party wants to bring down the government (for whatever reason), then it has to go for the real one: making the position of the LibDems impossible. Table an amendment on proper version of PR that makes the boundaries less important or even unimportant. Labour can actually have a majority for this. How will the Tories react to such a move? Please, don’t come with “there are opponents of even AV in the PLP” – does not matter, irrelevant. The question would be breaking the coalition – if any of the Labour MPs are against it – what are they doing in the PLP? If in a referendum people voted for it – then Labour would have to accept it.

    If they just want to make the failure of the Bill possible and coming out politically positively – they should be absent at the voting and then explain it from a politically convincing aspect: we want AV, but we don’t want the rest of this nonsense, we were unable to convince the other side, but we don’t want AV to fail, so we are absent, but we will fight for a fair redrawing, etc., etc.

    These are the reason, why I don’t understand the argument about gerrymandering, about sneaky LDs, about “attack on democracy”, etc. These are politically irrelevant points, and appear to be rather defensive and someone who protect “privilages”, even if they are neither. These arguments are only relevant from the point of view of the political objective, they have no inherent values. Once the objective is clear, Labour will know how to beat the disliked points in the Bill.

  8. @ Amber

    “Maybe they will go on strike & refuse to implement the review.”

    Interesting point.

    In Italy a few decades ago printshop workers obstructed the publishing of rightwing stuff in this way.

  9. Thanks Anthony and Amber. My memory is not totally shot!
    ———————————————————————————

    I’m catching up. But I’m puzzled. Why is the distribution of seats going to be based on the no. of registered voters in a constituency rather than the no. of adults residing there. Surely the latter is fairer?

  10. @ Valerie

    So my point – made on Ed Ball’s behalf ;-) – wasn’t lost on you.

    I don’t believe it is a point that will be at all difficult for the electorate to grasp.

    And if the reduction of 50 seats is approx 35 Labour, 10 Tory & 5 Dems, I don’t think it would be even easier to convince many voters that the changes are deliberately targeted at Labour. 8-)

  11. Actually having been rather rude about Labour’s campaigning on this issue yesterday, I suppose I’d better suggest what they ought to be saying. I can see several points of attack:

    The size of it. I reckon a minimum of 420 constituencies would be affected – more likely 500 plus because of knock-on effects. Think of the bureaucracy; think of …

    The expense. Each area will need its own consideration by the relevant Boundary Commission which will have to have its staff massively boosted to cope. QCs will be involved. Because they will be operating on new guidelines, there will be no precedent to go on. Eventually interim plans for each county pair or whatever will be published. There will an inquiry. QCs will be involved. And there will be a lot of …

    Local opposition. All the political parties will be out for what they can get (including, judging by Councillor Crockett, revenge). By the way, the Machiavelli quote he directed us to is:

    “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

    This will now be demonstrated all over the country. At each inquiry, lots of alternative plans will have been put forward. Lots of people who should have put put forward plans will complain there wasn’t time. All sort of emotive issues will be raised. All sort of groups will want to give evidence. QCs will be involved. Local Conservatives while in favour of the changes in general will be vehemently opposed to their own. They will also in-fight furiously because what benefits one constituency will disadvantage its neighbours. And the inquiry will take forever because of …

    The number of options. If you make equalising numbers your main aim and you ditch the principle of crossing ward boundaries (you have to to make the numbers fit) then there’s an endless number of ways in which you can draw the boundaries. Whatever decision is eventually reached, there will be accusations of …

    Gerrymandering. While whingeing nationally won’t work as a tactic, local complaint is a different matter. Nobody will be happy; there will be a inquiry on the revised plan. Repeat from the top with (even more ill-) feeling. Even more QCs will be involved. The revised report will eventually be produced. Because the status and precedence of the revised guidelines are in doubt, there may be judicial review. The odd QC may even be involved. Eventually the new constituencies will be settled. Everyone will hate them, not least because …

    The outcome will be uncertain. All those certain gains by the Tories won’t look so sure. All the old unfairnesses will be replaced by new ones. And the …

    The uncertainty of the situation. This will make the problems start all over again. Look at the discussion I had with Anthony about Northern ireland earlier. Two months additional registrations (in the middle of the year) were enough to tip NI ‘s entitlement from 15 seats to 16. If constituency boundaries were so unfair that they had to be redrawn a year after the election which had a general boundary revision, why not a year later if the numbers change again? If it’s fair in 2012, why not in 2014?

    In earlier comments, I mocked Cameron and the Tories “Procrustean rigour” in trying to make constituencies “one size fits all”. perhaps they should remember what happened to Procrustes. (Though judging by what Boris seems to recall of his classical education, they won’t)

  12. @ Roger Mexico

    It’d be snappier to say: “Did Forgemasters lose their government loan to pay for this?”

    And I can’t see: “Oppose the boundary changes because they are Procrustean” on anybody’s banner except yours. ;-)

    Nor do I think “Oppose the boundary changes because there will be lots of local bickering” will galvanise Labour’s grassroots. Local bickering is our hobby, why would we march against that? :-)

  13. @ Amber

    I don’t know. You try to help people and all they do is complain. ;)

    I was thinking more of the headings as arguments against the whole process of course. The rest is how it might all work out.

    There’s a serious point here though. If Labour wants to genuinely oppose these changes, sloganeering won’t do it. At this stage it’s about arguments – the agit prop comes later when your fighting all those local battles. (Now is the time to frighten others with the prospect of them).

    Laszlo makes some good points above about how badly Labour comes across at the moment. You have to be careful not to get to fond of the freedom of opposition. Mind you the Tories haven’t yet lost their love of it and they’re making bad choices because of it.

    In the meantime ask how many extra MPs they could have for all those QCs!

    And I do like to bring a little culture to the masses at this time of night. :)

  14. @ Roger Mexico

    There’s a serious point here though…. You have to be careful not to get to fond of the freedom of opposition.
    ———————————————–
    You are spot-on. Leaderless opposition & the (alleged) return to grassroots politics is hugely fun compared to actually having to govern or mount a calculated anti-coalition strategy.

    Sooner, rather than later, we Labourites will have to take a serious pill. 8-)

  15. Laszlo – re: post 12.58am – absolutely brilliant summary of events.

    I dont think lab care (apart from opposition politics) about these amendments bar one the reduction of parliament to apprx 600 mps..If as i do you assume this makes future hung parliaments more likely, then yes offer PR, which will probably happen eventually anyway. This would test the coalition and some must already be uncomfortable.

  16. Morning all.

    Speaker john bercow is calling for an end to PMQs, stating they are full of shouting, point scoring, sound bites and planted questions. Well that sums up westminster. Bet he will be popular with mps today.

  17. I’ve been thinking through the likely consequences for Northern Ireland here. Bottom line is that the DUP probably lose two seats and SF one.

  18. Roger
    Spot on. Greatly appreciate your comments
    If I could add to your Machiavelli quote, he said something along the lines of those benefiting from change never thanking you and those losing not forgiving you. I think that chimes with your correct description of what is now going to happen at a local level.
    Also, what would have happened if Mike Martin had said he wanted to stop PMQs?

  19. Test

  20. “It’d be snappier to say: “Did Forgemasters lose their government loan to pay for this?””

    Snappier-but stupider-so they probably will.

    The answers are predictable:-

    No-“this” is to save £12m a year-for ever & ever.

    Forgemasters wanted a Government loan so that their directors would not have to dilute their shareholdings in a capitalisation issue.Government has no role in this. It was just one on the long list of unfunded promises by a desperate dying government—-rather like those plants which try to avoid dessication in a drought by throwing off masses of seeds-knowing that most have no chance of viability, but just one might take root.

  21. Anthony
    I’m puzzled why the second preferences for the largest parties are so significant in AV. The second preferences of candidates with the least votes are redistributed in turn. Where there are several canididates, their second preferences may affect the final result long before the second preferences of the main parties are taken into account. This may particularly matter where the leading candidate has only a small lead. Unless we can predict the trend for second preferences in the minor parties, I don’t see how can make a meaningful projections.
    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  22. @ Amber Star

    Aren’t you missing the point? The boundaries haved been skewed in Lab’s favour for some time. I seem to remember that DC had to get 42% of the vote to get a majority of 1 seat whilst GB needed a lot less than this to achieve the same result. This was purely down to uneven boundaries, particulalry Scotland and innner cities.

    All I think is going to happen is the effection of a fairer spread of votes across the UK, I take your point about adult voters though. Who are these guys, why don’t they want to register? A myriad of reasons I suppose, should we set a Quango up to investigate? Ha.

  23. Sheps in Pyrmont – I think maybe you misunderstand me. (Goodness knows how, I began to feel like stuck record yesterday)

    I have no problem with it whatsoever in principle. As I said ad infinitum, I actually believe the BC will do it as as fairly possible. The BC are constantly AIMING to make constituencies as equal as possible anyway.

    The magic 600, however, is obviously designed to hurt Labour and IF it were the case that it caused a bias in the system towards the Conservatives, then that would be just as unfair as one that favours Labour.

    I don’t think that it will, but it is clear from yesterday’s posts that many of a blue persuasion believe and even hope that it will.

    Actually, I believe that both Amber and I have argued there should be MORE MPs, not less, but that they should be paid much less and their expenses should be slashed. I also think we should be talking about STV not AV and 5 year fixed terms are too long (though 4 years seem more sensible if we really must fix the term) What’s partisan about those proposals?

  24. “richard, unlike all the other reds I have been consistent on N Clegg. When it looked to some like he might do a deal with reds – Cleggie was their man. I took the road less travelled by.”

    Oh, so did I. I literally prayed that Labour would not do a deal with the Libs. 3 reasons:

    We lost

    The numbers didn’t add up

    Clegg is a Tory

  25. Nicholas,

    I realise you have a good background in this but I disagree.

    Would the SDLP lose on ein South Belf? the last BC review considered merging S & W Belf.

    Surely Sinn Féin would win that constituency….?

  26. Roger’s point about post reform changes in constituency size is very apt. While constituencies based on geographical coherent areas can logically tolerate population shifts between elections without altering the theoretical basis for the boundary selection (albeit still requiring periodic review to avoid large disparities building up as now) the +/-5% proposal represents a very firm non geographic basis for boundary setting that logically needs to be updated for every election. The legislation needs to be framed very carefully to avoid the risk of legal challenges.

    I’m also tickled by the three exceptions. Why these three? If I were a Labour supporter I would be looking at this as evidence of pure gerrymandering. It’s quaint how two of the three seats just happen to be traditional Scottish Lib Dem seats.

    It’s evidence of how real life interfers with policy formulation, especially when oppositions move into government. Another good example is the news from the IFS today regarding tax breaks for married couples. Their independent research appears to directly contradict the somewhat biased ‘facts’ from IDS’s CSJ work and shows that the stability of relationships has little to do with whether people are married but more to do with age and occupation.

  27. @Roger Mexico
    I’m not convinced by your points – the critical issue is in my opinion whether the new 600 seats will be fairly allocated.

    Here’s a more substative point (IMO): The so called “equalisation” of the size of constituencies is based on REGISTERED ELECTORS ONLY, not the population of voting age. Is the use of registered electors only fair when there is such substantive evidence that non-registration is rife in some areas and not others? No. And in which areas is non-registration a problem – in the cities, that is mostly Labour areas. So the new “equalised” constituencies are in fact going to tend to contain more adults in Labour areas than Coalition areas.

    The alternative – base the boundary commission review on the latest population estimates by the Office for National Statistics.

  28. I can’t resist putting my oar in re Labour tactics of course.

    This is the area where Roland, Howard, Colin and I are in perfect accord.

    ALMOST NO-ONE CARES!!!

    We care, and that is a good thing, because otherwise nobody at all would care.

    Wayne is right too. Most people think the coalition (if they even know what it is) is “quite a good thing. probably” at the moment.

    About 36% of voters emphatically do not. They will be disgusted with every announcement the coalition make anyway.

    The Libs are dropping like a stone, so Lab need to have the odd rant about traitors, turncoats etc and mop up their voters.

    Other than that, Labour should just sit tight, choose a new leader, and wait for the cuts to really be defined and start to hurt.

    As Eoin says, democracy has spoken, the public nearly chose the Tories and if Labour believe that the coalition are doing an almost perfect job of hanging themselves anyway, then I think a year of getting our house in order won’t hurt at all. So far, other than banning sex, I find it hard to think of anything else the coalition could do to make Labour’s job easier.

  29. Testing = Sex

  30. I can’t resist putting my oar in re Labour tactics of course.

    This is the area where Roland, Howard, Colin and I are in perfect accord.

    ALMOST NO-ONE CARES!!!

    We care, and that is a good thing, because otherwise nobody at all would care.

    Wayne is right too. Most people think the coalition (if they even know what it is) is “quite a good thing. probably” at the moment.

    About 36% of voters emphatically do not. They will be disgusted with every announcement the coalition make anyway.

    The Libs are dropping like a stone, so Lab need to have the odd rant about lapdogs etc and mop up their voters.

    Other than that, Labour should just sit tight, choose a new leader, and wait for the cuts to really be defined and start to hurt.

    As Eoin says, democracy has spoken, the public nearly chose the Tories and if Labour believe that the coalition are doing an almost perfect job of hanging themselves anyway, then I think a year of getting our house in order won’t hurt at all. So far, other than banning sex, I find it hard to think of anything else the coalition could do to make Labour’s job easier.

  31. Sue,

    Exactly,

    Applaud every annoucement with vigour! If you give a man enough rope…………..

  32. @ Roger Mexico @ 1:41 AM

    Very good analysis what is likely at such a scale redesigning. Thank you.

    “why not a year later if the numbers change again? If it’s fair in 2012, why not in 2014”

    You are prefectly right about this – the reason is clearly political. The dissolving rules of Parliament, the AV referendum and the boundary changes (with the reduction of MPs) are stiched together in the coalition agreement – both coalition parties need to cement the agreement in.

  33. @ Alec

    “If I were a Labour supporter I would be looking at this as evidence of pure gerrymandering. It’s quaint how two of the three seats just happen to be traditional Scottish Lib Dem seats.”

    I agree with the main line of your argument, but this is a weak argument – LibDems would like well over 60 seats (even this is very low expectation), so the point of protecting two seats through tricks would easily be deflected.

    Also Labour needs to win in England (and reinforcing Scotland and gaining back more of Wales) – I think the electorate will just take the protected areas as a price of gradual withdrawal of the advantage of Scotland (and Wales) over England in terms of number of MPs. They can be even convinced that these are reasonable exceptions.

  34. @Phil – your point is very valid. The right to vote is the key factor. Registering to vote is merely an organisational mechanism. By any sense of logic, morality or constitutional decency, any system of constituency boundaries based on population numbers should be based on the actual number of people eligible to vote, regardless of whether they have gone through the administrative requirements to exercise that right.

    The fact that the coalition have chosen an alternative mechanism that just so happens to benefit them is a clear example of gerrymandering and belies their proclaimations to want a fairer voting system.

    A much better approach would be to use the forthcoming 2011 census data that will give highly accurate population data as the basis for the boundary review and then have a complete update every ten years in line with census returns.

    Differential voter registration is another issue altogether. The logic of these proposals is such that it would be just as coherent to organise constituencies based on the number of people who actualy voted. I suspect that Labour’s early attacks on this will soon yeild dividends as the issue gets more coverage and the coalition enters less certain waters.

  35. Alec – I didn’t realise that! Is it currently based on population and the coalition will change it to registered voters???

  36. @ Phil

    “The so called “equalisation” of the size of constituencies is based on REGISTERED ELECTORS ONLY, not the population of voting age. Is the use of registered electors only fair when there is such substantive evidence that non-registration is rife in some areas and not others? No. And in which areas is non-registration a problem – in the cities, that is mostly Labour areas. So the new “equalised” constituencies are in fact going to tend to contain more adults in Labour areas than Coalition areas.”

    This is all true. But three caveats:

    1) There is no evidence that the non-registered voters would vote or that they would vote Labour.
    2) Labour, instead of the argument of registered vs. constituents should go out and make sure that these people are registed by December.
    3) Labour, instead of the argument of registered vs. constituents, should push for applying the law of registration (eg. through the threat of actually imposing the fine) – push the government, push the local governments, push the Electoral Commission.

  37. @ Alec

    “use the forthcoming 2011 census data that will give highly accurate population data as the basis for the boundary review ”

    Alec, the 2001 census was not particularly accurate:

    ht tp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3240307.stm

    The ONS:
    ht tp://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/annexa.asp

    The census is quite accurate at national level, but the confidence levels cannot be directly extrapolated to local levels.

    There is a massive operational problem: let’s say on the census basis there are 70,000 electors in a constituency – but then we have only 58 thousand addresses and names to send the voting cards…

  38. Laszlo – I believe there IS evidence that non registered voters tend to vote much more for Labour, but I will go off a rootle it out for you.

  39. @ Sue

    Thank you. That would be important.

    But then, in a perverse (will it go through moderation?) way, the redrawing should push Labour to mobilise them. Because currently one could argue in the following way: Labour is so secure in these boundaries that it does not care with the constituents, it cares about the voters only when it needs them. Of course, I don’t agree with it, but it’s a presentation that can hurt.

  40. Sue – the current boundaries (and all past boundary reviews) have been based on registered electors, not population.

    Putting on my pedantry hat, non-registered voters definitely do not vote for Labour. They don’t vote for anyone, because they aren’t registered ;). I think you meant who would unregistered voters vote for if they did bother to register.

    Really in depth examinations of how accurate the electoral register is only take place in census years, since otherwise there isn’t much to compare it to. However, the electoral commission did do a study across 7 or 8 local authorities a year or two back. They found the people who were most likely to be missed off the register were essentially people who moved residence a lot, so it tended to be poorer, more transient people and ethnic minorities – demographic groups that are more likely to be Labour voters.

  41. Sue Marsh:

    “Actually, I believe that both Amber and I have argued there should be MORE MPs, not less, but that they should be paid much less and their expenses should be slashed. I also think we should be talking about STV not AV and 5 year fixed terms are too long (though 4 years seem more sensible if we really must fix the term) What’s partisan about those proposals?”

    If you put some of the extra MP’s into an English Parliament, you have Donald Dewar’s vision for his Home Rule Parliament applied to Westminster.

  42. @Sue Marsh
    “I believe there IS evidence that non registered voters tend to vote much more for Labour, ..”

    Surely that is illegal. Should keep quiet about it!

  43. Anthony, Sue,

    As one of these transient types I feel i can offer soemthing here….

    Areas where there is multi occupany tennat arrangements, (UNI areas) or indeed inner city areas are much less likely to be registered… as much as it means poor people it can also mean young people… they say my postcode is the wealthiest in NI and yet only 30% of us voted… so the issues are not just linked to poverty…. saying that given that we consistently return moderates (currently a Tibetan member of the Stormont assembly) or an SDLP MP it probably has as much to do with apathy about adversarial politics….

    Lastly, Anthony’s right to point out that these areas have high immigrant populations… Our two main boulevards stretching form the University look like a rainbow, which is certainly not typical of the racial mix in others areas of NI.

    The consequence is that even though some of our areas are over crowded we are set to lose our MP…. it will (although I accpet Nicholas shares a disagreement here) be Gerry Adams representing us in future. Given that he does not take his seat, one begins to get a picture of an area where nobody stands still, few speak English, nobody votes, we lose our MP to be replaced by another who wont take his seat. Even though the residents come from all over the globe I am still tempted to say- how very irish! :)

  44. About transient potential voters and non-registered people voting…

    In the 1947 elections in Hungary, with the slogan of “not letting any vote get lost”, there were “blue voting cards” with which people who were on their way or just moved, etc. could vote not at their place of address. The Social Democrats and the Communists organised quite a few of these cards among each other, with which some people could vote quite a few times.

    The whole thing had a major payload – they would have won anyway, but in this way it appears as if they had won through cheating and this is how it’s presented in textbooks :-(.

  45. Further on the reliability of census for election purposes:

    The director of census in England and Wales said: “in 2001 3m people did not return a completed census questionnaire. Fewer than 100 were prosecuted.”

  46. Latest YouGov – CON 41%, LAB 36%, LDEM 15%

  47. Tony Montana!

    Yeeeeeha! :) Thank u!

  48. LAZLO -12.58am

    Have just written to Harriet Harman about putting down an amendment and calling the Lib Dems bluff – specifically going for the Jenkin’s Commission AV plus.

    So happens that I should have a chance to talk to Harriet this evening at a Fabian event so will reinforce this idea!

  49. DavidB,

    Can you give her kiss for me? :) Ask her why she never comes to our Fabian meetings (Belf.)

  50. @ Laszlo (12:58 am)

    “If the Labour Party wants to bring down the government (for whatever reason), then it has to go for the real one: making the position of the LibDems impossible. Table an amendment on proper version of PR.”

    If Labour think they can successfully whip their MPs to support such an amendment, it has to be the tactic that looks best for them. Then we could have Labour opponents of PR voting for it, while LibDems will have to be whipped to oppose it, to stick to the coalition deal!

    It will be easier to persuade Labour opponents of PR to vote for such an amendment (aiming to destabilise the coalition, and thus give them a chance to get back in Govt) than it would be to whip LibDem supporters of PR to oppose it (and especially so if the amendment is for STV). The result would thus be ructions within the LDs.

    I suspect, though, that such an amendment would be lost, because even if every Labour opponent of PR does go through the lobby supporting the amendment, I think the overwhelming majority of LibDem MPs (including a lot of their payroll vote) would have to vote for it to be carried. I can’t see where other votes for such an amendment would come from (apart from the Green Party). Even if a lot of LD MPs abstained, the greater number of Tory MPs (voting as a very solid bloc) against the amendment would mean it falls.

    The other technique for Labour I can see would be to back amendments by Tory rebels: those amendments have more chance of success than the PR amendment, and could also destabilise the ConDem coalition from the Tory side.

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