Boundary Update

I expect this will be the last one of these for a few years, as the Commons looks likely to vote to approve the Lords amendment abandoning the current boundary review and setting the next boundary review to begin in 2015, reporting in September-October 2018. Today should see an end to matters one way or the other – looking in detail at the amendments before the House today, the government has tabled a counter amendment that would reject the Lords amendment, and adopt the Boundary Commissions final recommendations without the need for further votes in the Commons and Lords.

415 Responses to “Boundary Update”

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  1. Unfortunately for the Tories, they’ve pretty much ruled themselves out of a deal with the Lib Dems for “something they want more than anything else in the world”. Their number 1 and 2 choices were electoral reform and Lords reform, both which they blocked. It would be a massively tall order to get the Lib Dems to trust the Tories to keep their side of a bargain next time.

    On top of this, what the Lib Dems need more than anything else for the 2015 election is to put distance between all the U-turns they were pilloried for in 2010-2011. The last thing they want now is another U-turn to give the public the message that they’re still Tory whipping boys.

    Might have better luck the other side of a 2015 election in the event there’s another Con/Lib coalition, because they can use that as a bargaining chip in coalition negotiations. But even that’s a tricky one. That would require a massive rebuilding of trust if there’s any hope of a workable deal. Next time round, an anything-but-Tories coalition might be a much more tempting option.

  2. So the Tories might lose the vote today but I doubt that they will give up the battle. Between now and the election, Number 10 will be looking for something that the Lib Dems want more than anything else in the world and see if they can trade it for boundary change. This ain’t over yet.
    What could David Cameron possibly offer the LibDems which his own backbenchers wouldn’t rebel against?

  3. Yes, interesting to wonder what might light their candle. LibDems have sold themselves rather short in the past…


    “What could David Cameron possibly offer the LibDems which his own backbenchers wouldn’t rebel against?”


    Ken Clarke?
    Free Eurostar 4 lyfe?
    His wife’s recipe for ratatouille?

  5. Fair enough AW, not up on HoC procedure myself…

    Still, you can’t say Cameron isn’t tenacious. If there is a way. ..


    I don’t think Cameron ever thought this would get through, but simply presented it here today so he would have a stick to beat the Lib Dems and Labour with – “we tried to make it fairer, but they voted against it”.

  7. @ Carfrew


  8. The Graun has this from Joe Oliver’s blog.

    A ‘best’ case scenario:
    303 Conservative MPs + 1 Nadine Dorries + 7 DUP MPs vote for = 311

    The SNP, Plaid Cymru, William McCrea, Eric Joyce, and George Galloway don’t vote.

    255 Labour + 57 Lib Dems + 3 SDLP + 1 Alliance + 1 Green + 1 Sylvia Hermon vote against = 318
    An opposition majority of 7.

    Or a worst case scenario:
    303 Conservative MPs vote for
    255 Labour + 57 Lib Dems + 8 DUP + 6 SNP + 3 Plaid Cymru + 3 SDLP + 1 Green + 1 Alliance + 1 Sylvia Hermon + 1 Eric Joyce + 1 George Galloway + 1 Nadine Dorries vote against = 338
    A comfortable opposition majority of 35.
    Actually the worst case could be worse, if 5 Tories abstain or even ‘worser’ if they vote against.

  9. And they’re out for division.

    During the debate I made the partisan speeches we heard last time a little more colourful, and staved of boredom, by appending the words ‘in bed’ on the end of each of their sentences.

  10. Could be, Corkscrew. In snooker terms it might be considered a “shot to nothing”. Couldn’t really lose. .


    Not so sure about that. I don’t think he will gain much from the “fairer” argument – we all know why he really wants it! And bringing it back is only going to worsen relations between the coalition ‘partners’.

  12. It looks as if Nadine Dorries (who is still technically an independent) is voting with her Conservative colleagues.

  13. This is from Labour’s Toby Perkins:
    Several Tories voting with Labour on boundary changes.

  14. Looks like DUP, Nationalists, SDLP, Respect, Greens, voted with labour and Lib Dem against the govt. Plus at least 4 Tories.

  15. 334 to 292 against the boundaries changing.

  16. Well Corkscrew think it was the HoL thing which is mostly responsible for the worsened relations but take your point.

    That said, there’s an advantage in having a stick to beat them with as you said and whichever stick he finds, none are liable to happinate the LibDems.

    (Unless they like that sort of thing. ..)

  17. @ Amber- looks like your reported “worst case scenario” was even worse!

  18. Anthony, soon after it commenced this review the Boundary Commission for England published the electorates for the current constituencies as at December 2010.

    This showed that SINCE the 2010 GE, ie in the period between the 2010 GE and December 2010, the electorates of seats in London and Metropolitan areas (ie Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester etc) on average rose approx twice as fast as all other County seats.

    This is a complete reversal of the previous long running trend and if it were to continue it would mean that the seats in 2015 would be more equal than in 2010 (with no boundary changes).

    Do you have further info re the December 2011 electorates?

    I think this is an area which you may want to devote a bit of attention to as it could have consequences for 2015 and subsequently.

    There are various potential reasons for this change – including immigration into inner cities, children of immigrants reaching 18, inner city regeneration, very low rates of new house building etc.

  19. Looks like the boundaries remain…Some loss of face for the government…They are actually going to come up with vote-winning schemes to win the election!

  20. *TO HAVE TO*

  21. Rainbow Coalition.

  22. TOH

    Thanks for that comment. I’ve gone through a similar process; it’s sometimes worthwhile reflecting on why you think as you do.

    In my case, my grandfather was of an era (and of a personality) where views could be firmly held, but ideas exchanged with people of different views. He had an open house and frequently had visitors with right-wing opinions, with lively, civilised and respectful discussions emerging. His approach was that a) you work bloody hard and b) you fight bloody hard (collectively) to see fairness done.

    I’m often bemused by just how far the centre-ground has moved right-wards these last few decades. He was seen as a moderate Labour and union man in the 60s, to the extent that he was approached by Moral Rearmament to act as a bulwark against the more left-leaning union men. (He sent them away with a flea in their ear…) Today, he would be considered on the far left. Hearing people who believe in moderate collective action and/or Keynesian economics decried as being wild lefties, as we often do these days is (in my opinion) not healthy for a constructive debate.

    He would have (generally) been right at home in atmosphere of this place. Long may it stay like that.

  23. Splat.

    Come on Anthony, get to work on the old boundaries. Chop-chop.

  24. In follow up news Government has accepted the amendment that will mean that in future votes, queues formed at ballot stations will be entitled to continue to vote after the official close of ballot.

  25. MikeL – the reason for that is that local authorities *know* that the Parliamentary boundary review is going to be based on the Dec 2010 numbers, so they put a special effort into getting the figures up – particularly inner-city areas that normally have low registration and are fearful of losing seats.

    It was one of the reasons Labour did comparatively well in the 4th review – they put a lot of preparatory work in at a local council level in getting their registers up.

    With some exceptions, like East London and Central Manchester, which are growing fast, the existing trends remain.

  26. CNS – it’s coming along well, it’s looking beautiful. The census should produce lots of demographic figures for Parliamentary seats later this week, which I’ll be doing stuff on.

  27. @Leftylampton

    When I was much younger I worked in a factory in Newcastle and we had great discussions, lively and civilised as you say, amongst a group who covered almost the whole political spectrum except fascism. Great times.

    Agree with much of what you say especially that the middle ground has moved to the right. It’s why I sometimes post that i think Cameron is slightly left of centre on some issue although not the economy.

  28. Who were the 4 Tory rebels & will they be punished by withdrawal of the party whip? After all, their ‘crime’ appears far worse than Nadine going to Oz on her hols. ??

  29. Robert Newark

    Labour Whips tweeted :

    At least 4 Tory rebels with us: David Davis, Philip Davies, Richard Shepherd and John Baron
    4:19 PM – 29 Jan 13

  30. Glyn Davies – Tory from Wales – was saying he’d vote against; maybe he abstained instead?

  31. @ Anthony

    CNS – it’s coming along well, it’s looking beautiful. The census should produce lots of demographic figures for Parliamentary seats later this week, which I’ll be doing stuff on.
    Oooh, that sounds like fun; is it for YG or for ‘us’? :-)

  32. Amber – Glyn Davies did indeed abstain. Demographics stuff will be more for the constituency guide here, but I expect I’ll write something to.

  33. Robert Newark – no, you only get the whip withdrawn for voting against on a vote of confidence. This was not a vote of confidence, or Cameron would have just resigned!

  34. Anthony – how do we find out who voted against and who abstained ? I know we can check Hansard but that’s not updated for 3 hours and I’m more impatient than that.

  35. Phil Davies always said he’d vote against, not sure about the others. I’d be interested to see if any other Tories who are directly affected by this (e.g. Nick de Bois) have abstained.
    Let’s hope the next boundary review has less restrictive terms of reference and that it doesn’t come up with so many monstrous constituencies.

  36. @ Anthony

    Andrew Spar-row of the Graun often mentions you & links to this site. Here’s part of his analysis on today’s events:

    …it is easy to exaggerate the impact these proposals would have had. As Anthony Wells explained at UK Polling Report [linked], even on the revised boundaries Cameron would still have failed to gain an overall majority on the basis of the 2010 results. Under the current system the Tories need to be 11 points ahead of Labour to win an overall majority on the Wells analysis. Under the revised boundaries, the Tories would have still have needed a lead of 7.4 points.
    I think it’s worth repeating given today’s vote; I wish the link to your ATL comment had copied!

  37. Barnaby – Nick de Bois voted in favour. The other abstention was Andrew Percy.

    Chordata – the same way you did earlier! The Labour whips office tweeted it.

  38. @Anthony

    And on a very interesting point, Cameron suspended “Cabinet collective responsibility”, which has been said to be pretty much unprecedented in British politics. He had to do this, so that it would not require resignation of the Lib Dem members of government who voted against the government. Because that would certainly have made it a defacto vote of confidence.

    Cameron could well have maintained “Cabinet collective responsibility”, as he has done before on contentious votes the Lib Dem party opposed. That he didn’t speaks volumes.


    Seems to show good sense to me.

  40. I wonder if the reporting of all of the libdems voting against the Tories will give the impression that a libdem/labour hookup is very likely in the next Parliament.

  41. If you believe the Liberals will not want a single thing until the date of the next GE then the Boundary issue is dead , however if you think Politicians always want something, especially Politicians with little to lose and looking for something to give there supporters reason to vote for them and avoid melt down at the next GE , then things can change.
    You can be sure the Tories won’t let it go.

  42. I understand ward data from the 2011 census is published tomorrow.

  43. Turk

    The problem is that the things that could have brought the activists back and prepared to put energy into a campaign have been blocked by the tories. Nothing that the tories could offer would be good enough for those people and the libdems have always relied on their ground game to win seats

  44. Is there a secret, cunning reason why DC went ahead with a vote he was bound to lose?

  45. Fascinating spat going on in France over Hollande’s policies. Employment Minister says they’ve gone bankrupt!

  46. @ Anthony

    Lol, there was I thinking you had access to info not for us plebs :-)

  47. @Paulcroft

    He has no control over amendments Lords place on secondary legislation. His only choice here was to not give any further parliamentary time to this bill. And even then, there would still be a vote in the future on accepting boundary commission recommendation, which the LibDems had pledged to oppose.

    It wasn’t even a choice between lose now, lose later. Failing to give time to the bill would have been conceding the loss.

  48. Today’s result is not a loss for the Conservative party, it is a loss for democracy. There should be an independent body that regulates the electoral system to reduce bias.

  49. TURK

    “You can be sure the Tories won’t let it go.”

    I’m sure that you are right, but that would be foolish.

    DC is naturally enough concerned with balancing his coalition partners and the UKIP tendency but if the EU and boundary advantage are seen to be the priority for the government when the voters are concerned about more mundane matters or even about longer term environmental issues there is a danger that the coalitionand parliament itself will lose support.

    Won’t vote may be the winners, not Labour.

  50. Paulcroft

    Well, I’ve been listening to radio and the Tory line seems to be that the libdems are against fairness and ensuring that all votes are equal. They even sound sincere about it, makes me wonder why we didn’t have a PR ref

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