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. @TheSheep,

    As AW has already pointed out, pretty much any revision of boundaries improves the position of the Conservatives. I think what you are suggesting is that no review should ever be conducted if it might be likely to change things in favour of one party or the other. Which is in effect thinly concealed anti-Tory partisanship.

  2. Ian,
    From a libertarian perspective, I also found ‘60% of the Voters who are dependent (to a greater or lesser degree) in the State’ amusing.
    Try ‘100% of the voters’… [1]
    Who do you think provides the judicial system that gives provides you with your liberty and property?
    I suppose you didn’t mean so broadly, but only meant ‘dependent’ in the sense of redistribution [2].

    Okay – so take my landlord, he has money redistributed from me, because he has a piece of paper from the state which entitles him to that redistribution. If I refuse to redistribute my wealth to him, the state comes with men with guns and threatens me unless I do so.
    Effectively rent is no different from a land use tax, only that the recipient of that tax revenue is a ‘private’ agent rather than a state agent.

    You could argue that this property could exist without the state – you’d just have non-state actors taking the role of property enforcement, but eventually you’d have one non-state actor holding a monopoly (through violence) over a certain area, with competing non-state actors holding monopolies in other areas.
    Hold on – that’s what we already do have, only we refer to these ‘non-state actors’ as ‘states’.

    [1] Ignoring the idea that you can separate ‘voters’ from the state anyway, since the term ‘voter’ only exists in relation to the state.
    [2] Which of course assumes private property, which again, is just state-backed redistribution of resources.

  3. Neil A
    I also thought that the main argument (which I also hold) is about the reduction of the number of seats – but any boundary revision even with the current seat numbers would benefit the Tories.
    So opposition to the Tory ‘partisan objectives’ of changed boundaries is just as partisan.

    Labour should have taken a narrative of revised boundaries on existing seats. It would have been a far more credible position to argue from.

  4. @john pilgrim

    Missed it at the time but just read your post on previous thread John. Agree that it’s not all about competition, but about trade.

    Also agree that if we have a comparative advantage it’s not automatically easy (or necessary) for others to undercut it (via cheap labour). Krugman’s analysis made a related point, in that the country with the most demand for something is more likely to be the country producing the most of it (transport costs etc.), something which rather surprised Krugman himself when he worked it all through.

  5. @ The Sheep

    “For boundary reviews to be non-partisan you need to have non-partisan terms and objectives as well as independence. That was one of the contentions here – as we’ve seen from the debate on UKPR.”

    Do you feel like you don’t have this?

    The best redistricting has been done by judges. Even judges with the most conservative and judges with the most liberal viewpoint usually manage to draw fair districts that combine together communities of common interest, maximize the number of competitive seats, increase opportunity seats for minorities, and don’t draw lines to favor any particular politicians (hence you can have some redrawn districts where no incumbent lives and redrawn districts with multiple incumbents in them).

    Who sits on your commission for boundary reviews? Is it a partisan split that includes representatives from the major parties? Like if one of you guys here wanted to be on the boundaries review commission, how would you get on it?

  6. @Tinted Fringe

    “Some people are already declaring this ‘the end of the Con bounce’, but 33 is well within the margin for the 35s we’ve seen lately.”

    I see the Midlands & Wales numbers are unusually heavily in favour of Labour. This and the third poll back are similar, but we’re going back to mid-December to see similar polls.

    Also note the Rest of the South. Two 44s, followed by a 47 (the latter not seen since October). I think the ‘bounce’ is mostly in the Rest of South, with perhaps a little evening of the numbers in the M & W on some polls.

  7. Anthony’s boss (PK) on DP suggested the LDs made a calculation that reducing to 600 seats would costs them less seats than they would gain by AV being introduced. [perhaps a net gain of 10 or so.

    The cynic in me wonders if once AV was defeated the LDs were looking for a way to wriggle out of the seat reduction.
    Maybe Clegg came up with flawed proposals in Lords reform on purpose to make it more likely Labour would vote against to ensure the Tory rebels would scupper the bill so the LDs could U turn on seat reduction.

    All very unedifying.

    Tory back-benchers reneging on an implied part of the coalition deal, Labour opportunistically voting down Lords reform rather than posting a series of amendments and the LDs doing what they do best.

    If the speech bounce does unravel in the coming week or 2 it has still shown us where easy pickings are for the cons as those back and forths will end up Tory at the GE imo.

    Seeing if can Lab ease back up to 42-44 (YG) is more relevant perhaps?

  8. “Labour should have taken a narrative of revised boundaries on existing seats. It would have been a far more credible position to argue from.”

    Indeed. If Labour required 10% of the VI to win an election and the Conservatives required 90% of the VI, would it be gerrymandering if the latter tried to make more 50/50 (or 40/40 if we’re being pedantic)?

    For those with the advantage to claim foul when others try to remove the advantage is a little hypocritical. If the positions were reversed, it would be the only thing in the news.


    I’ve said many times before, and will say so again no doubt – badgers will be critical in the next election.

    And there are thousands of them out there……

  10. @ManInMiddle
    Re. Open University followed by bricks and mortar uni, Google the OpenPlus scheme ( – though it might be for science only.
    I’ve enjoyed studying with OU for years and fully recommend it. Hard work and much more expensive since the coalition raised fees, but worth looking in to. You might be able to build up credit or a gain lesser qualification (diploma, certificate, etc.) in order to enhance your CV even if you subsequently start a traditional uni degree anyway. All the best.

  11. On Univ costs: Do not forget that the tuition fees are NOT paid until you start earning good money.

    Actually tuition fees start to be repaid when you reach 80% of National average wage (60% of London rates).

    If your are earning the average London wage you will already be paying back the equivalent of £1500 of your pre tax income a Year.

    Not exactly living the high life.

  12. @ ALEC

    The Tories will alway be seen as the party of the Farmer, so they will do what they can to help, even if the science of a badger cull is disputed. It is always noticeable locally at election time, that the farms that have land bordering main roads, have Tory signs up.

    If Labour pick up support from animal rights groups, it would probably be very small, compared to the support the Tories always receive from those that earn their living in the countryside.

    Not sure that Labour will ever change that, even if in government they increased compensation for cattle affected by TB etc.

    One of the key issues affecting disease spread is the amount of movement of livestock. I just wonder whether if this was controlled in a better way, that the number of cattle affected by TB would be reduced.

  13. SoCaL – the boundary commissions are generally made up of a Judge, a senior barrister and a former senior civil servant/local government officer.

    There are no party appointees on them. If anyone here wanted to be on one, they’d probably be ruled out for having party affiliations, even if they were a senior barrister, a judge or a senior civil servant!

  14. JIM JAM

    @”All very unedifying.”


    Times leader today tries to explain each sides position to a child.

    Impossible to do.

  15. “There are no party appointees on them. If anyone here wanted to be on one, they’d probably be ruled out for having party affiliations, even if they were a senior barrister, a judge or a senior civil servant!”
    No chance of Paul Croft becoming boundaries monitor then ?

  16. I would want the title “Czar”.

  17. nickp

    “I hope Labour win next time and increase the number of MPs to 800.

    More representation, obviously more democratic!”

    OK, but for a PR uncameral English parliament on the model of the Scottish parliament with a small federal parliament in Manchester (or anywhere on the planet except London).

    All problems solved including the payroll vote, bishops, independence…

  18. @JBD

    How about six federal areas with equal voting strength:

    Midlands and Wales
    Rest of the South
    Northern Ireland

    That would create parity never seen before. :)

  19. Paul Croft,

    How about “Political Equality Czar”? We don’t have nearly enough equality czars…

    Thanks for the recap.
    I also think that the role of cities as trading hubs and thus as generators of Value Added may have changed with the effects of IT and the web, and with the the changing function of wealth generation and cons\picuous consumption in the Far East. More power to their honorable elbows, say I. Thus back to the middle ages, when Pope Gregory IX (was it, historians?) issued an encyclical condemning the running backwards and forwards in inter-city trade, notably wool and wine, which was upsetting the HRE’s control of the shires and dioseces. So, of course Boris, socialist at heart, can whack in as much investment as he likes in London’s continued development as the centre of everything.

  21. From Grauniad article on boundaries vote :-

    “Anthony Wells, the polling expert from YouGov, has calculated that on current boundaries the Conservatives need a lead of 11.1% to win an overall majority on a uniform swing. They also need a lead of 4.1% to be the largest party.
    On the revised boundaries the Conservatives would need a lead of 7% to win an overall majority and would need a lead of 1.4% to be the biggest party.”

  22. Colin

    Times leader today tries to explain each sides position to a child.

    Impossible to do.

    Nah, it’s a doddle.

    ME! ME!! ME!!!

    [Applies to all three Parties]

  23. If the EU referendum bounce has lasted only a week, where do the Tories go from here?

  24. could this be the first sensible decision the Lib Dems have taken since the last election? If they believe the economy is going to turn around in time to be reflected in the election results (and if they don’t, why are they in government?), then limiting the Cons chances of gaining an overall majority makes perfect sense.

    It’s clutching at the slimmest of straws for them, but better than nothing.

  25. UK 2011 Census (BBC News)
    English was the main language for 92% – or 50 million – of residents aged three and over. The remaining 8% – or 4 million – spoke a different main language, but most were proficient in speaking English.

    [In the UK population] “Of those with a main language other than English, 1.7 million could speak English very well, 1.6 million could speak English well, and 726,000 could speak English, however not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all. ….. In London, 22% – or 1.7 million of residents – used a main language other than English

    It is in this context that EM’s pledge of English language teaching in all sections of the community, and on English language capability as a condition of entre, are important.

  26. entry, even

  27. MitM

    The future of University is a particular interest of mine – I have a business plan waiting to go for an online entity that could provide a full degree for £5k (or much more if you wanted something like one to one tuition – it would be up to the student). Anyone who is interested in funding such a plan please get in touch.

    So I know quite a lot about the online and other competing options. If you are a highly motivated self-starter I would suggest the University of London International Programmes – these would allow you to get a degree for less than 1/3 of the OU and it would be a University of London degree:

    There are many free online courses (some of which come with certificates) however none will get you a degree. If you were interested in IT you might find some of them acceptable to enlightened employers though. Here is a site with a round up of many online courses:

    If you are feeling autodidactic here is another resource you might be interested in:

    PS. I am a Chartered Accountant (a profession you expressed an interest in previously) and for someone who may be borderline Asperger’s maybe IT would be a better fit – ACA’s have a lot of social interaction if you are on a training contract with an assurance firm – it depends how comfortable you feel with that or if you want to stretch yourself. There can be IT roles that are much more pure task focussed (and simple accounting roles can be that way too, but you don’t need to pay an ACA for them).

    Anyway enough wittering from this long time lurker – it was the degree advice I really wanted to impart.

  28. @Ozwald

    I see the article makes no mention of Labour leads required for either race under either scenario.

    @AW – Did you tell them that one, or didn’t they care to know?

  29. @Statgeek
    Yes, good point. To me it seems to have skimmed and cherry-picked. The article was not in a prominent place and I wondered if the G was not sure quite which way to spin it. Still, it was an important day and the next few polls will be interesting after the dust has settled. IMHO

  30. BP

    So long as I am Czar of something the rest of the title doesn’t matter

  31. @Neil A

    You seem to have read more into my comment than there actually was. It is evident from the extensive discussion here on UKPR that the terms of this commission weren’t universally accepted as unbiased or appropriate. Other terms might have been. For the first time that I’m aware of the commission had an overriding responsibility around number of electors, which was a major change.


    My major point is that it doesn’t matter how independent the Commission and its members are, they are bound by their terms.

    For example have only just had the conclusive report into the Hillsborough disaster that happened in 1989, despite the report of the Coroner, a previous inquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor (1990), and a review by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith (1997). The independence of those legal minds didn’t actually result in the desired outcome.

  32. Morning all,

    Just as a thought experiment, how many people here think that it would be better to draw up boundaries based on the census, rather than the electoral register?


    The Times Leader writer attempted to be a little more sophisticated than that.

    …but your’s comes close.

  34. Electoral Register.

  35. @ Anthony,

    Just as a thought experiment, how many people here think that it would be better to draw up boundaries based on the census, rather than the electoral register?
    Is the answer: Use whichever works out best for the Party that I support? ;-)

  36. @AW

    Definitely the census.

    The argument made by Labour is that the electoral register does not equate with the number of people the MP must represent. The census is a more accurate count of the actual people living in the area.

  37. Aren’t MPs paid to represent everyone in their constituency, not just everyone who voted for them or everyone who is on the electoral role, but everybody who lives there?

    In which case, constituency boundaries based on the most recent population head-count would seem to best reflect the MPs duty.

  38. Boundaries based on census. Census is a legal requirement, whereas many people choose not to go on the electoral register.

    One of my college lecturers husbands was on the boundary commission and when I suggested that boundaries were decided in a political way, she was not happy. The commission does pride itself in being above politics.

  39. Census.

    The YT images from East London showing vigiantes harassing people saying “this is a Muslim area” are both disturbing and predictable. They need a really serious legal response.

  40. @R Huckle

    The commission do their best to be non-partisan, and decisions they make are non-partisan… Within The Rules They Are Bound To. The problem being, that the rules governing how the Boundary Commission must come to a recommendation are generated by partisan politics, and for a very long time they have allowed for political movement. (ie, ‘voter registration drives’ to increase certain areas rolls over others)


    Allocation by population by census. And I’ll even go as far as saying immigrant population should count too, because they’re the responsibility *and constituents* of the MP even if they are not franchised to vote.

    And as before mentioned, electoral rolls can be increased by partisan action in an area, so are a pretty bad way to do it if you want to be impartial.

  41. @ R Huckle

    ..when I suggested that boundaries were decided in a political way, she was not happy. The commission does pride itself in being above politics.
    The boundaries are, inescapably, political; surely she means the Commission should be above Party politics.

    That said, electoral registers can be influenced to a certain extent by Parties organising registration drives in particular areas so maybe the census should be used for setting ‘boundaries by headcount’.

  42. @ Jay Blanc


  43. And yes, I was annoyed at the Conservative MP during the debate who said that immigrants were not constituents. MPs have a care of duty to everyone in the UK, not just those who are enfranchised to vote.

  44. Definitely Census but perhaps the census should be done every 5 years instead of 10.

  45. Not sure how anyone supporting the ludicrous FPTP on the [to me] equally ludicrous basis that we need one MP responsible for ALL constituents, can then argue that the size of the constituency should just relate to those who are registered voters.

    Is this on the basis that you don’t deserve your local MP to represent your interests if you haven’t bothered to sign up?

  46. The Electoral Register.

    Those who refuse to engage with the democratic process have little to complain about. We need to engage more people in the process and get turnout up.

    Using the census would invalidate the ER, since the boundaries are trying to balance the voting people, not the non-voting people.

  47. Census but it that favours Labour so my view is not as objective as it could be.

    My reasoning is that young people and others not on the ER need to be represented as well so how many people an MP represents should be the measure.

  48. @Statgeek

    Let’s say there’s a region that has a drastically large population of 16-17 year olds. The boundaries get drawn up, but they’re *not allowed* to consider that the figures are going to be drastically wrong within a year, as that population sign onto the electoral rolls. As it stands, the process gives a larger representation in parliament to regions with substantially less under-18s.

    Now what’s important to understand is… This isn’t a hypothetical. It’s the current situation, and there are very clear regional variation in population age distribution.

  49. Since it is clearly the responsibility of Govts to ENCOURAGE voter participation the idea that a constituency size should be fixed on an electoral roll that one hopes and intends will grow is, frankly, silly.

    The fact people haven’t “bothered” to register [how easily we denigrate others] doesn’t mean that can’t be helped and encouraged to do so – and until they are we cannot truly say we have a representative democracy.

  50. The Census.

    That’s what the USA uses, and it makes sense.

    Firstly, because MPs represent all constituents, including those who don’t vote, or don’t register. Children cannot be on the electoral rolls until 16 (and don’t get counted as voters until adulthood), but medium/long-term decisions made by politicians affect them.

    Secondly, because electoral registers can be affected by ‘drives’, whereas the Census is politically independent

    STATGEEK: “Using the census would invalidate the ER, since the boundaries are trying to balance the voting people, not the non-voting people.”

    No, it would not. The previous boundary reviews used Census information to determine population, and that didn’t affect the Electoral Registers for those.

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