On Tuesday 13th the provisional recommendations of the Boundary Commission for England are due to be published (Scotland is due in October, Northern Ireland sometime this month, Wales not for a long time), the headquarters of the main political parties and members of Parliament will receive an embargoed copy of the report sometime on Monday. I suspect that, with 650 copies of the report banging around Parliament, we’ll get some details emerging then.

There will be 502 constituencies in England. Two of these must by statute be wholly upon the Isle of Wight, and don’t have to fit within any quota of electorate. The other 500 must all have between 72,810 and 80,473 voters – based on the number of people on the electoral register on the 1st December 2010. The boundary commission does not have any leeway on these rules, apart from the Isle of Wight seats all other seats in England must be within these quotas.

Beyond that, the Boundary Commission should take account of geographical considerations, like the size, shape and transport connections in a constituency, local ties, local government boundaries and the current constituency boundaries. We know already that the Boundary Commission for England is regarding regional boundaries as pretty sacrosanct – they have allocated seats per region, and while they will consider proposals that cross boundaries, they say it would take compelling reasons for them to adopt them. We also know that the Boundary Commission have said that they will only split council wards if there are compelling reasons. We’ll know how compelling they need to be in practice on Tuesday.

The main change from previous boundary reviews is that the quota is fixed. Previously the Boundary Commissions aimed at getting seats close to the quota, but some seats diverged from it to some degree – a minority being over ten percent above or below quota. A second major change is that England, Scotland & Wales will all be using the same quota. Previously Wales in particular had a much lower quota. This means that Wales will lose 10 seats from the 40 it currently has.

Beyond that the rules are not much changed. For this review only the rules no longer require minimal disruption, but the Commissions do have to give regard to current Parliamentary boundaries, which will have a similar effect. However, while the rules never formally prevented Boundary Commissions from crossing county boundaries or splitting wards in the past, in practice they gave great weight to these considerations, and hence rarely or never did it. Under the new rules having an electorate within quota takes precedence over other considerations, so in some cases county boundaries will be crossed, and wards will be split.

The provisional recommendations will give us the proposed details of the 502 seats in England, as proposed by the independent Boundary Commission. We’ll be able to work out the partisan impact of this for England, though obviously won’t have a full picture till Scotland and Wales report. It is worth remembering that the boundary changes in England will be the least beneficial towards the Conservatives, because it’s there they have the most to lose. In contrast, Scotland will lose 9 seats and by definition a maximum of 1 can be Conservative!

So for those of you interested in to what extent the new boundaries are better or worse for the parties, remember that the plusses and minus are not evenly distributed around the country. To take Lewis Baston’s estimates of the effects (we’ll know how good they were in a week!) as an example, in England Lewis had the Conservatives 10 seats worse off to Labour’s 9 seats worse off… but then in Scotland & Wales he had the Conservatives 4 seats worse off, but Labour 9 seats worse off.

We will also have a good idea of which MPs are likely to see their seats chopped up and where there will be interesting selection battles. Remember that it’s not always clear which seats have been “abolished” and which seats are the successors to other seats. A seat can change names, but actually be largely similar to another seat. A seat with a similar name is not necessarily the successor. For example, in the last boundary review the Essex North and Harwich seat was not the successor to Harwich: it was mostly Essex North. Despite the different name the new Clacton was in fact overwhelmingly made up of the old Harwich seat.

Also bear in mind that lots of the gains and losses will actually be very minor changes to ultra-marginals. If you are an MP with a majority of 50, then a very small change could flip your seat to another party… but unless the next general election is a carbon copy of the last one, it will make no difference to who wins the seat. You’d have held or lost that seat anyway depending on if your party goes up or down. The more important measure of the impact of the boundary changes will be the swing/lead needed by each party to win. Currently the Conservatives need to be about 11 points ahead of Labour to win an overall majority, while Labour need to be about 3 points ahead of the Conservatives for an overall majority – the important question is to what extent that changes (don’t, I hasten to add, expect it to even up completely. A lot of that difference is down to factors other than boundaries). Again, we’ll need some provisional Scottish and Welsh boundaries before we can update that fully.

Finally, remember that all of these are provisional recommendations. The next step is a twelve week consultation period, during which there will be several public hearings in each region, which will also see the main political parties argue the case for their own proposals. At the end of the twelve week period all the submissions to the consultation period will be published, and then there will be a further consultation period for people to respond to other people’s submissions. Finally the Assistant Commissioner appointed in each area will take away the submissions and come up with some amended proposals, or confirm the provisional ones as final. The final recommendations will not turn up till next year at the earliest.

UPDATE: The recommendations will apparently be released to MPs at 12 noon next Monday, and embargoed until midnight.


132 Responses to “Boundary changes preview”

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  1. @ Old Nat

    “Most of us get on very well here, regardless of political differences.”

    We try anyway. :)

  2. @ Old Nat

    “I posted a picture of the Times front page showing an Ipsos-MORI poll on Scotland’s preferences on the constitutuion (caught in spam trap). Looks like two thirds want DevoMax/fiscal auronomy.

    The Scotland Bill is going through the Lords at the moment. One wonders if anyone there is going to make the relational link between the polls and the Bill they are considering.”

    I looked at the Guardian but didn’t see this poll (or the resulting graphic) you speak of.

  3. According to a PB poster (who subsceibes to the Times)

    “67 per cent agreed with the proposal that the powers of MSPs should be extended “to include more laws and duties and all tax- raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK”. Only just over one in four Scots — 28 per cent — disagreed.

    Support for full fiscal powers is particularly strong among young Scots, with 74 per cent of those aged 18-24 and 72 per cent of those aged 25-34 backing the proposal.”

    More or less what one might have expected.

  4. I never liked Clinton, but I don’t think I hated him. I don’t hate very many people actually.

    What I most disliked about Clinton was the disparity between the way his supporters perceived him and the way he truly was. The man was a louche, with an arrogant sense of self-entitlement.

    There is a tendency on the left to beatify some of their leaders (Kennedy is probably the best example) and to forgive faults in them that would never be forgiven in “lesser” men.

    The way that many US liberals, and particularly female US liberals, bent their own principles over backwards to support a man who had behaved in a way that they would publicly excoriate in others (especially conservatives like Clarence Thomas) made me wonder just how deep their belief system really goes.

    As for Reagan, he wasn’t my cup of tea either. But I think it’s right to credit him, through accident or design, with ending the Cold War. Whether the US will ever recover from the fiscal damage he inflicted in the process or not, it was a remarkable achievement.

  5. SoCalLiberal

    The Guardian wouldn’t have the Times poll details.

  6. SoCalLiberal

    I must say that the sheer intensity of the hatred towards (both) Clintons always amazed me. It wasn’t because they were particularly left-wing,even in US terms, and I could see no other political reason. The hatred started before any scandals and in any case most of his opponents turned out to be at least as bad, so it wasn’t that.

    In part I think it was simply because he won the Presidency after the three terms of Republicans. They felt it was theirs and were furious about having it taken away. But I think class played its part as well. While the Republicans love to portray themselves as self-made, salt of the earth types, most of them actually come from privileged backgrounds. The ultimate in this was Connecticut frat boy George W pretending he was really a humble Texas rancher while going after his father’s job. The fact that any one American was taken in is why we think you have no sense of irony. :)

    But Clinton was the real thing. He actually did come from a dirt-poor background and had made his way up on his own. I don’t know if they hated him because of his background; because of his success; because he made them feel inauthentic; or because he risked taking what they thought were ‘their voters’ away from them. But hate him they did, in a way they never hated the ‘limousine liberals’ who were supposed to be their real enemies.

  7. @ Neil A

    “I never liked Clinton, but I don’t think I hated him. I don’t hate very many people actually.

    What I most disliked about Clinton was the disparity between the way his supporters perceived him and the way he truly was. The man was a louche, with an arrogant sense of self-entitlement.

    There is a tendency on the left to beatify some of their leaders (Kennedy is probably the best example) and to forgive faults in them that would never be forgiven in “lesser” men.

    The way that many US liberals, and particularly female US liberals, bent their own principles over backwards to support a man who had behaved in a way that they would publicly excoriate in others (especially conservatives like Clarence Thomas) made me wonder just how deep their belief system really goes.

    As for Reagan, he wasn’t my cup of tea either. But I think it’s right to credit him, through accident or design, with ending the Cold War. Whether the US will ever recover from the fiscal damage he inflicted in the process or not, it was a remarkable achievement.”

    Believe it or not, I agree with you on JFK. Clinton’s presidency was disappointing because he failed to accomplish much of what he set out to do.

    The fury over his marital discretions is ridiculous, especially considering the never ending escapade of conservatives who get caught cheating or other bad acts (instant messaging House pages about penis size, using prostitutes, etc.).

    As for his marital infidelity, I really think that’s his own business and between him and Hillary and Chelsea. I don’t need (nor do I want) to be involved.

    I really don’t see an arrogant sense of self-entitlement. He was an Arkansas hillbilly who was from a broken home and by any classification, trailer trash. Yet he was able to get degrees from Georgetown and Yale and make something of himself. He had a political prowess that was unmatched. I would not claim him to be arrogant or self-entitled.

  8. @ Roger Mexico

    “I must say that the sheer intensity of the hatred towards (both) Clintons always amazed me. It wasn’t because they were particularly left-wing,even in US terms, and I could see no other political reason. The hatred started before any scandals and in any case most of his opponents turned out to be at least as bad, so it wasn’t that.

    In part I think it was simply because he won the Presidency after the three terms of Republicans. They felt it was theirs and were furious about having it taken away. But I think class played its part as well. While the Republicans love to portray themselves as self-made, salt of the earth types, most of them actually come from privileged backgrounds. The ultimate in this was Connecticut frat boy George W pretending he was really a humble Texas rancher while going after his father’s job. The fact that any one American was taken in is why we think you have no sense of irony.

    But Clinton was the real thing. He actually did come from a dirt-poor background and had made his way up on his own. I don’t know if they hated him because of his background; because of his success; because he made them feel inauthentic; or because he risked taking what they thought were ‘their voters’ away from them. But hate him they did, in a way they never hated the ‘limousine liberals’ who were supposed to be their real enemies.”

    The thing about Clinton is that when he first announced he was running in 1991, no one believed the Democrats had any chance of beating Bush for reelection. No one. The only one who thought he could be beaten was James Carville. Clinton took the risk. He took the risk that no other Democrat would take (many prominent Dems refused to run, believing they would certainly lose). For that, you have to give him credit.

    Clinton’s victory in 1992 was transformational. It’s interesting to watch old coverage of Election Night 1992 on CBS (it’s available on Youtube though not all is covered). Clinton did not rebuild the coalition that had elected Democrats narrowly in the past (election maps in 1948, 1960, and 1976 look awfully similar) but instead built a brand new coalition. It’s kinda amazing to look at.

    Was Clinton a great president? Maybe. He did not get done much of what he set out to do (though he did get some good things through….Family Medical Leave Act, Urban Economic Zones, etc.). At least not legislatively. However, he was able to do a great deal with executive orders. He was the first president to sign an executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the federal government.

    Much of the economic success during the 1990’s, he can take credit for. It was Clinton who pushed for the infrastructure improvements that allowed for the internet boom and the resulting development of web businesses (one of the few areas of economic growth today). He also was the only president who effectively balanced the budget and put us on track to pay off our debt. His economic policies were brilliant.

    On foreign policy, he helped redefine and recraft U.S. policy for the better (at least temporarily). He kept Iraq in check, he led the humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, he helped restore our image abroad, and he played a major role in the Northern Ireland peace negotiations.

    But looking back on it, I think Clinton’s greatness is what his presidency helped set in motion. It was his presidential coalition that helped elect Barack Obama. Obama could rely on voters who Clinton brought into the Democratic column. If you look at Obama’s major appointments, most of them worked in the Clinton administration or were appointed by Clinton. The ideas that got killed during Clinton’s administration eventually became law today.

  9. @ Roger Mexico

    “I must say that the sheer intensity of the hatred towards (both) Clintons always amazed me. It wasn’t because they were particularly left-wing,even in US terms, and I could see no other political reason. The hatred started before any scandals and in any case most of his opponents turned out to be at least as bad, so it wasn’t that.

    In part I think it was simply because he won the Presidency after the three terms of Republicans. They felt it was theirs and were furious about having it taken away. But I think class played its part as well. While the Republicans love to portray themselves as self-made, salt of the earth types, most of them actually come from privileged backgrounds. The ultimate in this was Connecticut frat boy George W pretending he was really a humble Texas rancher while going after his father’s job. The fact that any one American was taken in is why we think you have no sense of irony.

    But Clinton was the real thing. He actually did come from a dirt-poor background and had made his way up on his own. I don’t know if they hated him because of his background; because of his success; because he made them feel inauthentic; or because he risked taking what they thought were ‘their voters’ away from them. But hate him they did, in a way they never hated the ‘limousine liberals’ who were supposed to be their real enemies.”

    You’re right about his background. I think they hated him for all the reasons you mentioned (and still do). I’m not sure that he makes them feel inauthentic but on the other reasons, I think you’re right. They hate Hillary though because she’s an independent thinking feminist woman. The combination of that pair just filled them with puritanical rage.

    I think that they hate limosuine liberals just as much (look at their treatment of Al Gore, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and anyone else who gets in their way). My feeling is, they hate limosuine liberals more than they hate other liberals. But they’d prefer a limosuine liberal (a straight, white, male one of the proper background) as their leader any day of the week over a trailer trash hillbilly (or a feminist or a black man).

    I admit I have a soft spot for Clinton. I can still remember Election Day 1992. After my parents voted first thing in the morning, my dad took my family down to Disneyland. I remember coming home from the “happiest place on earth” and seeing the news that Clinton had won.

  10. @ Old Nat

    “The Guardian wouldn’t have the Times poll details.”

    Oh. :( Well if I see it otherwise, I’ll post it.

  11. These polls are all terrible inconsistent.. or are they?
    Polls weighted against the past 30 days, starting from the lowest Tory poll – weighted, 35.7/43/9.3, 25/8/11
    Newest > Oldest
    Con – 36.5, 36.4, 36.3, 36.2, 36.2, 36.1, 35.9, 35.7
    Lab – 42.2, 42.4, 42.3, 42.6, 42.7, 42.7, 42.9, 43
    Lib – 9.4, 9.4, 9.4, 9.4, 9.4, 9.3, 9.4, 9.3
    Con trending up, Lab trending down, Lib no change.
    So Con 37, Lab 42, Lib 9

    Weighted against the past 7 days (subject to more variation) –
    Con – 37.5, 37.4, 37.5, 37.2, 37.5, 37.3, 36.6, 36.2, 35.9
    Lab – 41, 41.3, 40.9, 41.6, 41.7, 41.9, 42.4, 42.9, 43.2
    Lib – 9.6, 9.7, 9.8, 9.6, 9.5, 9.3, 9.2, 9.2, 9.3
    Con stabilising at 37.5, Lab possibly stabilising at 41 (possibly falling further), Lib possibly stabilising at 9.6?
    So Con 38, Lab 41, Lib 10

    A quick note – weighting against 30 days gives a much more stable trend, but can miss quite big blips – it missed the slight recovery of Tory VI after the phone-hacking (which then dipped back down).
    The 7-day is much quicker to respond to change, but it affected quite a lot by outliers and variation.

  12. Martin Wolf, in the Financial Times, writes –
    “What is to be done? To find an answer, listen to the markets. They are saying: borrow and spend, please. Yet those who profess faith in the magic of the markets are most determined to ignore the cry. The fiscal skies are falling, they insist.”
    So it’s not just the left that are talking about the need to spend to get out of the mess. ;)

    Of course, all this doesn’t matter if the German constitutional court rules the bailouts illegal – then the whole thing could come tumbling down..

  13. @ Roger Mexico
    ” the attempt to avoid bank reform.

    Still if Cameron tries to block banking reform I’m sure you’ll be the first to call for him to leave the coalition”

    I,m not aware of any attempt to avoid banking reform-Vickers hasn’t reported yet.

    Speculation has it that DC wants GO/VC to assure him that there will be no negative effects on jobs-that seems a sensible question for the PM to ask.

    The Coalition Agreement is clear on the principle & purpose of banking reform, with flexibilityu on timing of implementation-I would expect DC to adhere to it.

    He has done so to date by setting up Vickers.

    @SoCal

    Interesting catalogue of Reagan crimes.

    My perspective is the one I guess most non-Americans have-Reagan, Thatcher & Gorbachev ended the global threat of nuclear war between USSR & The West.

    For that I owe Reagan a huge thank you on behalf of my children & Grandchildren.

    @ OLDNAT

    “Ahem! Not everywhere. In Scotland, most of them resisted the chance to shift to yet another right wing party”

    ………..yes……….sorry about that………a far-away country of which we know nothing …….as someone once said?

    More kindly though-out of sight -out of mind .:-)

  14. @ SOCAL
    “His economic policies were brilliant”

    ………if you forget his role in building the foundations of the sub-prime disaster which we are all still living with :-

    “In 1999, Fannie Mae came under pressure from the Clinton administration to expand mortgage loans to low and moderate income borrowers by increasing the ratios of their loan portfolios in distressed inner city areas designated in the CRA of 1977] Because of the increased ratio requirements, institutions in the primary mortgage market pressed Fannie Mae to ease credit requirements on the mortgages it was willing to purchase, enabling them to make loans to subprime borrowers at interest rates higher than conventional loans. Shareholders also pressured Fannie Mae to maintain its record profits”

    Wiki

    h ttp://www.fool.com/investing/dividends-income/2008/09/10/the-people-responsible-for-fannie-mae-and-freddie-.aspx

    h ttp://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aSKSoiNbnQY0

  15. @SoCalLiberal – “Clinton was the real thing.”

    For someone with no family connections to become state governor aged 32 shows the irrepressible spirit of the man.

    Local republicans were enraged to see long-haired sandal-wearing advisors traipsing in and out of the mansion. They manged to eject him after two years, and from their point of veiw that should have been it. However, he was back within two years and remained governor of Arkansas for another nine years.

    That was the key formative expirience, learing to combine idealism with the art of the possible.

    He spoke many times about the irrational elements in American politics, not least:

    “The anger you feel is valid, but you must not allow yourselves to be consumed by it. The hurt you feel must not be allowed to turn into hate, but instead into the search for justice.”

  16. @Colin – “My perspective is the one I guess most non-Americans have-Reagan, Thatcher & Gorbachev ended the global threat of nuclear war between USSR & The West.”

    Giving credit to Reagan for this is to see half the story. The man very literally nearly caused the end of the world, and the fright the US got from this led directly to the disarmanent talks.

    Reagan make several speeches referenceing the ‘Evil Empire’ in 1983/84, which along with his aggressive nuclear arming led Soviet analysts to wonder whether he was genuinely thinking of a pre emptive first strike. The plan for European cruise missiles was central to promoting this thinking.

    Operation Lionheart in 1984 was a Nato exercise to test responses to a heightened Soviet threat level and involved the deploying of tactical weaponry. We knew it was just an exercise, but Soviet documents show that they genuine didn’t – they were extremely nervous, based almost entirely on their assessment of Reagan.

    The result was that the Soviets moved to their highest alert level and began deploying SS20’s in readiness for a retaliatory strike.

    At a critical point, an system error in a remote Soviet missile station in the early hours of the morning took us to within 6 minutes of a nuclear retaliation from the Soviets. Their monitoring system showed an incoming Nato attack, and the antiquated comms system had failed, meaning the relatively low ranking officer in charge could not talk this up the line and should follow the protocols of the top security level in place and order an attack from his unit.

    He didn’t, because he was very frightened he might have got it wrong. Had this one individual not disobeyed standing orders your grandchildren probably wouldn’t be here now.

    Shortly after this point, Nato realised that the Soviet reaction on the ground was going beyond normal for a response to an exercise and they called off Lionheart several days ahead of schedule.

    Contacts were made and when Reagan realised what a cock up he very nearly led us into, to his credit he turned against his right wing neocon advisers and sued for disarnament.

    Reagan does deserve some credit for his nuclear stance, but it only came about because he scared himself sh*tless. Were it not for a low ranking Soviet leiutenant, Reagan’s conversion would have been irrelevant. The US has been to DEFCOM1 on a few occasions, but this was the closest we have ever come to complete annihilation so far. Had it happened, it would have been very fortunate that none of us would have the slightest idea it was coming.

  17. Alec

    Nothing you have highlighted alters my view.

    Standing up to the Soviet threat before they attacked us is the only basis on which to negotiate mutual threat reduction with them.

    Realising that the Soviet systems were crap would indeed make you more concerned about some dreadful accident. ( reference Chernobyl)

    He was an international statesman of some note in my book-and along with Gorbachev made the world a safer place.

  18. POLL ALERT:

    ‘Poll boost for SNP as backing for split grows’

    “Support for independence among Scots has risen by almost 13 per cent in less than a year but still only commands the backing of just over a third of voters north of the Border, according to a new poll carried out for The Times.
    The poll by Ipsos MORI shows that 60 per cent of Scots certain to vote — including more than one in three of SNP voters — would oppose separation from the UK if a referendum was held now. Thirty five per cent of Scots would vote “yes” to independence, up from 22 per cent in November last year.
    However, while the lack of an outright majority for independence will be chastening news for Alex Salmond, the First Minister, and for the SNP, they will be buoyed by the apparent groundswell of support for Holyrood acquiring full tax-raising powers.
    The poll found that 67 per cent agreed with the proposal that the powers of MSPs should be extended “to include more laws and duties and all tax- raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK”. Only just over one in four Scots — 28 per cent — disagreed.
    Support for full fiscal powers is particularly strong among young Scots, with 74 per cent of those aged 18-24 and 72 per cent of those aged 25-34 backing the proposal.

    … Perhaps the most surprising finding is the number of SNP voters who do not appear to believe in independence. While the SNP’s opponents will see it as ammunition, it may be indicative of Mr Salmond’s ability to attract support from those who have previously voted for Unionist parties.
    Ipsos MORI also asked voters when they thought the referendum should be held — and most voters appear to believe it should held sooner rather than later — 28 per cent said “as soon as possible”, 27 per cent said “within the next two years” and 37 per cent said “between two and five years from now”.

    … Ipsos MORI interviewed 1002 adults between August 25 and August 29. Full poll results are available at http://www.ipsos-mori.com/scotland

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/scotland/article3156830.ece

  19. @Colin – In my view it was the Soviets that made the big difference. Reagan almost blundered into the most catastrophic strategic error in the history of the world with his simplistic language and gross failure to understand the Soviet mentality and their historic regard of the threat from the west.

    It was only following a series of chance events that nearly ended in Armageddon that he realised the pointlessness of much of what he had previously believed in, and Gorbachov then ensured that a deal could be done.

    Incidentally, I don’t know a huge amount about US politics but I’ve always been led to understand that Reagan’s economic policy was a failure, with the Reagan/Bush years wracking up large debts which left Clinton with the task of balancing the books, something he managed admirably.

    Bush Jnr was clearly more effective than his dad, as the debt mountain he left was even bigger and beyond the capacity of Obama to reduce. I guess for the Republicans that’s some kind of progress.

  20. We’ve avoided our very own Euro armageddon – but only just. The German constitutional court has rejected claims that the bail out mechanism is unconstitutional, which is a big relief, although they are saying that more parliamentary scrutiny is required which will slow down any future crisis response. I’ve also seem snippets saying that the ruling implies issuing Eurobonds would not be legal. I don’t have any detailes on this, but if true it would effectively cut off the easiest escape route from the Euro crisis.

    We’ve also seen a 0.2% drop in UK industrial produciton for July against an expectation of zero growth. It’s perhaps not as bad as it looks, as it’s mainly due to maintenance on oil and gas riggs affecting output, but it’ still not good news for Q3 GDP figures.

  21. Colin

    I,m not aware of any attempt to avoid banking reform-Vickers hasn’t reported yet.

    Methinks thou doth protest too much.

    And everyone knows the true architects of the end of the Cold War were John Stuart Mill and Nancy Reagan’s astrologer.

  22. @Roger Mexico – “And everyone knows the true architects of the end of the Cold War were John Stuart Mill and Nancy Reagan’s astrologer.”

    John Mills? What on earth could a retired 1950’s actor have to do with the end of the Cold War?

    Oh hang on….

  23. @Alec

    “Incidentally, I don’t know a huge amount about US politics but I’ve always been led to understand that Reagan’s economic policy was a failure, with the Reagan/Bush years wracking up large debts which left Clinton with the task of balancing the books, something he managed admirably.

    Bush Jnr was clearly more effective than his dad, as the debt mountain he left was even bigger and beyond the capacity of Obama to reduce. I guess for the Republicans that’s some kind of progress.”

    Ah yes, those Republican administrations and their “bloated states”, hey. Clinton, particularly, inherited a gargantuan deficit from Bush Senior and, rather than responding by implementing an ultra-austerity econonomic policy, essentially grew his way out of the deficit that he inherited. Is there a lesson in there for us, somewhere?.

    As for the historical verdict on Reagan, and I’m interested in SocalLiberal’s views about him (I wasn’t aware of a lot of that), surely we need to allow for the fact that, certainly in his second term, he was a largely symbolic President with little or no hands on the levers of power or policy. Some would argue that his first term was similarly framed and that what people liked about him was part fantasy, part sentimentality and that the his main purpose was providing a rather avuncular and jocular public visage for the hard line Republicanism that lay behind him. Surely people like Haig, Regan, Poindexter, Deaver, Rumsfeld etc were running the US, not the “Great Communicator”. He was the mood music conductor, but wrote few if any of the tunes.

    I did like Clinton, but probably for all the reasons that those on the right loathed him!!

  24. @Crossbat

    I’ve always felt that Reagan’s place in the US public affections is largely down to luck. I think if you compare the post presidential activities of Carter and Reagan, no one (but no one, surely) could ever argue that Reagan has even come remotely close to the achievement of Carter as an ex president, and this I suspect speaks far more about the basic human qualities and effectiveness of the two men.

    I always felt that Carter is and was an infinately more honest and greater person than Reagan, but was lumbered by being president at the end of a long and torrid time for the US. Carter inherited power during and after several oil shocks, a long period of stagflation and in America’s case the backwash from Vietnam and Watergate and this was never a great piece of timing.

    Reagan by contrast presided over the start of the boom years and managed to ride the wave well at a time when the Americans were yearning for optimism and the economic circumstances meant that they could see change coming.

    I’ve got a very youthful memory of Carter’s concession speech in 1980, when to rapturous cheers he told the shattered audience ‘I never lied to you’. The trouble was, America didn’t want to hear the truth – it was just too depressing.

    I also recall four years later watching Walter Mondale crucify Reagan’s economic plans in the TV debates, only to have Reagan blow him apart with a shrug of the shoulders and the ‘there you go again’ line. Once again, American’s refused to listen to the truth and Mondale was slaughtered at the polls. History shows Mondale was dead right and Reagan really was bankrupting the country. [@Colin – also worth noting that Mondale campaigned for a nuclear freeze and Reagan roundly savaged him for it. Perhaps you should give Reagan’s opponents more credit for creating the conditions for disarnament?]

    Carter’s time in office was pretty torrid, but as for the man – I would rank him as being the most honest, dignified and courageous US presidents of my lifetime from where I view these things.

  25. @ Roger Mexico

    “Methinks thou doth protest too much”

    Coming from you that’s very funny :-)

    As you well know I was responding to your assertion that Cons were trying to “avoid banking reform”

  26. @Alec

    You make some extremely interesting and valid points about Jimmy Carter and his post-presidential life has been one defined, in the main, by an admirable humility and selfless service to his country and rest of the world. A thoroughly decent man but an unlucky and naive politician who, as you say, tended to tell his country what they needed to know rather than what they wanted to hear. I suspect Obama is having similar difficulties whereas the likes of Reagan and Bush Jnr were adept at appealling to self-deluding American fantasies about itself as a country. They gleaned political dividends for so doing but did they serve the best interests of their country as a result?

    I rather suspect not.

  27. @ Alec

    ” In my view it was the Soviets that made the big difference”

    Naturally.

    The history books are there for us both to read.

  28. On topic I am glad that the Scottish and Welsh overepresentation is to be scrapped. This has distorted elections for a long time. It meant that every close election resulted in a Labour majority. Labour only got it’s overall majority in October 1974 because of this. Better late than never.

  29. I believed that the Scottish electoral quota was brought in line with England in 2005 when it was reduced from 72 to 59 seats?

    Wales on the otherhand remained unchanged on 40. Thats why the new boundaries will have such a huge impact on Wales this time.

    Years ago, Ulster was was underepresented but now Ulster is over represented.

  30. Why has there been no set date for the release of the NI BC provisional recommendations? Will they be published the same day as the English seat changes?

  31. A few little snippets of trivia for all here: It was Enoch Powell who negotiated the seat increase in Northern Ireland from 12 to 17, opting for a Welsh style model of allocation rather than the Scottish which he was offered.

    More recently I think that Northern Ireland is moving from 18 to 15 whilst Wales is dropping from 40 to 30. In Wales an argument was made to decouple Welsh Assembly and Westminster boundaries; in Northern Ireland’s case it was not, and one almost immediate effect of the boundaries will be to reduce Stormont from 108 MLAs to at most 90.

  32. Interesting about Ulster. For years it was underrepresented because it had it’s own assembly at Stormont. When it was abolished by the Heath government this underrepresentation became unjustified.
    Interestingly had the increase happened earlier Labour would have have been one seat short of an overall majority in October 1974. whether this would have mattered depends on how many of the new seats fell to the Unionists and how many to the Nationalists, who supported Labour.

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