On Tuesday the Boundary Commissions for England and Wales publish their provisional recommendations for Parliamentary boundary changes (the Northern Ireland commission published last week, Scotland is still to come). The review will replace the current 650 Parliamentary constituencies with 600 constituencies with more equal electorates. The recommendations this week will go out to public consultation, after which the Commissions will publish revised recommendations. The final recommendations won’t appear until the autumn of 2018 and then will have to be approved by the Commons and Lords to come into effect at the 2020 general election.

Why are boundary changes happening?

In theory boundary changes are a purely administrative necessity. Our electoral system is based on single member constituencies. For everyone’s vote to be worth roughly the same constituencies need to be roughly the same size and, since people tend to move about, constituency boundaries need to change to reflect that. Without reviews seats would, over time, become wildly uneven. Prior to the Second World War this was done on an ad hoc basis, since then it has been done using a statutory timetable and independent commissions. The exact time frame has shifted over time (we’ll come to that later), but under current legislation the boundary commissions are required to carry out a review every five years.

So why is it controversial?

The truth is that boundary reviews are almost always controversial. While on paper they are an administrative necessity carried out independently, because they have a direct impact on politician’s jobs and how difficult it is for each party to win an election they inevitably become politically contentious. Because boundary changes usually favour the Conservatives (I’ll come to that later too), it is normally a battle between a Labour party seeking to delay changes or relax the rules and a Conservative party seeking to speed the changes up and make the rules as tight as possible.

So for example, at the second review in 1969 the Labour party tried and failed to introduce only part of the review, then blocked the whole thing until Heath came to power the next year; in 1983 Michael Foot went to court to try and block the implementation of the third review; in 1992 the Conservatives changed the law to speed the fourth review up and get it done in time for the 1997 election.

The forthcoming review is a reboot of the abandoned review in the last Parliament, being carried out under new rules that the Cameron government introduced in 2011: while the reviews themselves are scrupulously neutral, overseen by High Court Judges, the rules they carry them out by are set by Parliament. While the Labour and Lib Dem vote in the last Parliament delayed the new review, it did not reverse the changes in the law and the new review will still take place under the new rules.

How did the Cameron government change the rules?

The 2011 Act introduced a lot of changes to the boundary review process, but many of these were either relatively technical or relatively uncontroversial. Among academics and the Commissions themselves there was a general feeling that the existing rules were not up to scratch, especially after the 1983 legal challenge (for a nice exploration of some of the issues around the old rules see David Butler and Iain McLean’s 2007 report for the Committee for Standards in Public Life). The new rules get rid of lots of those old problems, like the ratchet effect that kept increasing the number of seats and the lack of clarity as to how much priority the Commissions should give to the contradictory rules.

The most controversial issues though were the number of MPs, the frequency and strictness of the rules. The old rules aimed at producing a House of Commons of 630 seats, but the way they worked meant it was impossible for the Commissions to actually do this. The new rules have a set number of 600 seats, fifty fewer than the current House of Commons. In practice this means that the review is more disruptive than previous reviews – it’s not just a case of bringing seats into line with the quota, but rejigging the map to divide the country into 600 rather than 650. It also means that fifty MPs will see their seats disappear, making it that much trickier to get the recommendations passed.

On timing, under the old rules the Boundary Commissions were supposed to report between 8 and 12 years after the previous report, so boundary reviews normally took place every three elections. The new rules changed this to a five year timetable which, in conjunction with the Fixed Term Parliament Act, means there will be a review every election. Note that the last review was completed in 2007, so while this was an important change, we would now be due a boundary review anyway, even under the old rules.

Finally the Act made the rules stricter – under the old rules the Commissions were supposed to make the seats as equal as practically possible without crossing county or London borough boundaries, but they were allowed to break this rule to minimise disruption or protect local ties. The new rules are much stricter – seats must be within 5% of the quota, even if it means crossing county boundaries or splitting communities between seats. The only limited exceptions to the 5% rule are the Scottish islands, the Isle of Wight and under certain circumstances the Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland.

Why do the changes favour the Conservatives?

Almost all boundary changes favour the Conservatives because of the pattern of population changes. In the last fifty-odd years in Britain we’ve tended to see the population in the old industrial cities in the North fall relative to the population in the London commuter belt. As a result, over time the electorate in inner-city Northern seats (which happen to be Labour) falls and the electorate in southern, suburban seats (which happen to be Conservative) rises.

This means the more out of date boundaries are the better they are for Labour (as they’ll still be returning lots of MPs from areas whose population has since fallen and who no longer deserve so many seats). To bring seats back towards equality, seats in Labour areas tend to be amalgamated and new seats are created in Conservative voting areas, meaning the more up-to-date the boundaries are the more it helps the Tories.

One might think having up-to-date boundaries is obviously desirable, but having frequent boundary changes has downsides. It means MPs keep seeing the areas they represent change, and voters get shifted from one constituency to another. There is also an administrative cost to all this chopping about with boundaries. There is no right answer to how frequently boundaries are updated, its a question of getting the right balance between equal representation and the disruption boundary reviews cause. Naturally the political parties have tended to favour the answers that suit them: the Tories have normally tried to make boundary reviews as frequent and brisk as possible, Labour have often tried to block or delay them.

It is a similar case with how much variance from the quota the rules allow. More relaxed rules mean the review will do less to correct the pro-Labour skew that develops over time, stricter rules will tend to favour the Conservatives. Having seats that are very close together in terms of electorate is good for equal representation, but can necessitate crossing local authority boundaries, splitting communities between different seats and putting together places with little in common, so again there is no “right” answer. The parties have tended to favour what helps them.

What happened with the review in the last Parliament?

In the last Parliament the review started in 2011, and had got to the stage of publishing detailed recommendations before the coalition partners fell out over House of Lords reform and Nick Clegg announced that the Liberal Democrats would not vote to implement the boundary recommendations. While at the time the Commissions were still obliged by law to complete the review, later in the Parliament Labour and the Liberal Democrats forced through an amendment to another bill that cancelled the review completely, delaying the next report to September 2018.

Because the abandoned review had got the revised stage by the time it was abandoned we can work out what the party partisan impact would have been. If the boundaries had been in place at the last election the Conservatives would have won 9 fewer seats, Labour would have won 28 less, the Lib Dems only four. Overall the Conservatives would have won a much healthier majority of 44 seats.

Will this review have a similar outcome to the abandoned review?

In broad terms, yes, it will. The trends in population change in Britain haven’t changed, so the review will still take away more seats in the north than in the south and will still tend to favour the Tories. It will still cut the number of seats in Wales by about a quarter. In specific terms it will be different though, it’s based on 2015 electorates, not 2010 electorates so the specific arrangements of seats will be different and here and there seat totals will be different. I wrote about what we could confidently predict that the Boundary Commissions would recommend here.

Note that this is a brand new review – the Commissions are all starting their work again from scratch, rather than just trying to adjust the abandoned review to the new electorate figures. That does not, of course, mean that they won’t learn from the experience of the last review, nor that faced with the same problems they won’t come to the same conclusions. What we have learnt is that the Commissions are likely to be more willing to split some council wards between seats. This extra freedom is likely to produce seats that better reflect and respect communities and avoid some of the more bonkers recommendations in the abandoned review (for example, because the large wards in Birmingham don’t fit neatly into the electoral quota the last review recommended lots of Birmingham seats that had a ward from outside Birmingham bolted on to make up the numbers – by dividing some Birmingham wards between constituencies this silliness can be avoided).

What about the “missing two million voters”?

Labour’s criticism of the review seems to be based upon the argument that the review is “missing” two million people. By necessity, a review that aims at getting equal electorates needs to be based on the electorate at a given point and in the case of this review that point is the 1st December 2015, the day that the electorate registers based on the 2015 annual canvas came into force.

The date is significant because it was the first register based fully on Individual Electoral Registration rather than household registration. Despite earlier worries, this does not appear to have led to very large numbers of people dropping off the register. The Electoral Commission report into the effect of the final transition to IER found that the completeness of the register had only fallen one percent (85% of people who should be on the register are, compared to 86% on the old method), but that accuracy had significantly increased (91% of entries on the register are genuine people at the correct address, compared to 86% on the old system). However there are still plenty of people who should be on the electoral register, and while the overall figure did not show a significant fall, the Electoral Commission report suggests that the decline was higher among young people and people in rented accommodation.

It also reflects a change in how people use electoral registration. The ease of registering online and the widespread publicity it means a large number of people do not register at in the annual canvas, but do register in the run up to an election. So, between Dec 2015 and Jun 2016 an extra two million people registered to vote in the referendum and May elections, but won’t be accounted for in the review.

The Boundary Commissions do not have any discretion to change the date they base their review on – the law requires it to be the Dec 2015 register. The only way it could be changed is by primary legislation and the review starting all over again from scratch, something that would probably mean the review not being completed in time for the 2020 election (hence why Labour are suggesting it, and why the Conservatives wouldn’t consider it!). For the record, if the review was based on the electorate in June 2016 rather than the electorate in December 2015 the effect would be one less seat in Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and the North West, one extra seat in the South East and two extra seats in London.

Will it go ahead?

The English and Welsh Commissions report this week with the Scottish recommendations still to come. These provisional recommendations will be followed by a consultation period and public meetings, after which the Commissions will consider the responses and make revised recommendations. The amendment passed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the last Parliament requires the Commissions to deliver their report by 1st Oct 2018, but no earlier than September 2018, so once the revised proposals are published we’ll probably hear nothing else till 2018.

Once the final report is delivered the government need to put secondary legislation before Parliament to implement the changes. Crucially this needs the support of the Lords and the Commons – neither of which is necessarily guaranteed. The government only has an effective majority of 16, so it doesn’t need many rebels to put the boundaries at risk.


123 Responses to “This week’s boundary review”

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  1. How likely is it that enough Conservatives will rebel? Won’t some MPs just feel unhappy – either because their seat becomes more marginal or because they just don’t want to serve the new (perhaps unfamiliar) constituency.

  2. Thank you for a very interesting and detailed commentary, Anthony. A reduction of the seats may cause problems for local parties who are often organised into constituency associations. I can foresee strife at a local level when branches may need to amalgamate. Which premises do they use? Who will be the chairman? etc. In my experience there is often rivalry between adjacent branches of the same party.

  3. In the olden days, making 8% of the workforce unemployed at a stroke would cause prolonged strikes, disorder, and secondary action.

    Nowadays, this doesn’t seem to happen. The workforce have been cowed into submission (and zero-hours contracts) (and minimum-wage call-centre jobs).

    I wonder what model the MPs will follow?

  4. There was a theory that the conservative backbenchers rebeled against the HoL reforms hoping that the libdems would vote down the seat reduction in revenge. I don’t know how much truth there is to that

  5. Kevin Maguire of the Mirror hinted last week that he knew of Northern Conservative MPs intending to rebel on this issue.

  6. “I wonder what model the MPs will follow?”

    ———

    Well they got rid of the PM and Chancellor with barely a murmor…

    Maybe they’ll offer peerages to those losing their seats.

    Btw, what if the Commission abolish the PM’s seat?…

  7. Murmur

  8. Brilliant Anthony-thanks

  9. @CARFREW
    Btw, what if the Commission abolish the PM’s seat?…
    —–
    Vanishingly unlikely. Her Maidenhead constituency was created after a boundary commission review in 1997, and includes parts of Windsor and Wokingham, both prosperous areas which have seen increases in population since the last review.

    For much of the previous decade, I was working in a job which required me to travel all over the UK, and I can accurately claim to have been at least once to every town and city in England & Wales. I made a ‘top ten’ list of the worst, most run down and shabby places, and these are most likely to suffer from proposed changes.

    Here is my list (some have more than one constituency):

    Blackburn (Lab)
    Grimsby (Lab)
    Hull (Lab)
    Luton (Lab)
    Middlesbrough (Lab)
    Newport (Gwent) (Lab)
    S***Thorpe (Lab)
    Southport (Lib Dem)
    Stoke-on-Trent (Lab)
    Sunderland (Lab)

    Only one in the South, and nearly all Labour held.

  10. Excellent posting Anthony – thank you.

  11. @Carfew
    Finally, just going to see a doctor abroad is not quite the same as, say, having to haggle over fees when imminently needing surgery, that’s the kind of thing I was on about which the NHS avoids…

    I am not sure what countries you go to, but I have never heard of haggling over fees – they just tell you want it costs and that is it…no haggling…

    Also there is a reason why you get travel insurance before you travel – it only costs like GBP6 to get covered for a trip…All you need is to present your travel insurance details to the hospital and you are sorted…so I really have no idea what you are on about.

  12. These changes don’t really have any good news for Labour….

    I can see Corbyn and his Momentum chums taking full advantage of the reselection process.

    In Wales, my understanding was that there was a possibility of a move to 30 FPTT seats and then 30 additional AVs for the Assembly – good news for everyone apart from Labour. I recall Labour were fighting tooth a nail to scupper this!

  13. Carfrew – they won’t. We can’t tell which specific seats the Commissions will scrap, but we can already tell which areas they’ll be in and Berkshire should be unscathed.

    (I expect it would be easily resolved anyway. In 2005 Gordon Brown’s seat was abolished, but a neighbouring MP helpfully fell upon their sword for the Chancellor. When Ted Heath’s Bexley seat disappeared in 1974 he became MP for Sidcup. I expect solutions for such problems present themselves rather more easily when you’re PM.

  14. Meanwhile, the DT is reporting research from Nuffiled (no other identifying information I’m afraid) that finds that under Corbyn, Labour have suffered their worst polling performance for first year opposition ever. Splits are not new to Labour, so blaming this entirely on ‘the plotters’ would be facile.

    Labour elected itself a dreadful leader and looks set to repeat the mistake. I suspect the current leadership will indeed manouvere to use the boundary review to remove internal critics, seemingly oblivious to the fact of what they are facing.

    In other news; the BCC has slashed their GDP forecasts, citing post Brexit uncertainty in the slump in investment.

    This really is the one to watch, and it doesn’t look good. The post vote impacts have been and gone, but we are now facing the long squeeze, as uncertainty and doubt holds back investment. This is always a more serious long term issue than short term dips in confidence, and can have significant structural impacts on the economy. If consumers hold off spending for a month or two, theyy put the money in the bank for later. If businesses stop investing, it can lead to inflation, job lay offs and all manner of long term problems.

    Politically, I become more convinced that there is space for a more actively pro EU opposition, ready to either accept Brexit when it finally comes, or alternatively push for a second vote if public opinion changes as the impacts harden.

    Labour will not be able to capitalise under Corbyn, but they could under Smith. I suspect that we will in due course see a kick back against Brexit in VI,but Corbyn will hand May the political advantage.

  15. Alec, wrong, as often mentioned here voters dislike splits in parties.
    It is facile to ignore the plp manoeuvres and negative briefings.

    Most of jc`s policies are popular with the public.
    Your man Owen? Say something good about him…

  16. Oh yea, he is normal.

  17. There is one point that Anthony doesn’t mention in this survey of the boundaries issue. My recollection is that there was a recommendation to base the new boundaries on the 2016 register to allow more time for the new system to bed down. The government changed this to 2015 – its hard to see any other purpose to this but an attempt to keep the register as low as possible given that harder to register people are less likely to be Tory.

    It may be that the missing 2 million don’t make much difference to regional allocations. But they may well affect individual seats significantly. Many will be young and mobile and may be concentrated in certain areas such as university towns. Were they included, it would probably make a difference in specific seats.

    Even more important is the whole principle of basing seat allocation on the electoral register alone rather than on a proper estimate of the eligible population. These run into the millions and are equally entitled to their fair share of representation even if they aren’t registered at any given moment.

    These are the reasons why this is widely regarded as a serious gerrymander out of the US Republican playbook. To try and argue that its all party games on both sides is really not reasonable.

    [I don’t mention it because your recollection is wrong :). The start date is set in legislation as 2 years and 10 months before the start of the review, so there was never any real chance of it changing. What you are recalling is the debate over when the transition period for IER was brought to an end, which the government did in 2015 rather than the Electoral Commission’s recommendation of 2016. I’ve linked to my earlier discussion of that in the piece (and to the Electoral Commissions’s report on the final impact of the transition on accuracy and completeness). It is almost impossible to deny that both parties have taken stances that happen to have helped them electorally, discussing their motives in doing so is really not in tune with the comments policy here: people will have their own views, almost wholly defined by their partisan bias. Let us save that for some other comments section somewhere else. I believe the Guardian’s is nice – AW]

  18. Thanks Anthony, that is really informative.

    There could be a scenario here where, yes there are some Tory rebels on the issue but that these are more than negated by the Corbyn faction (assuming he wins the leadership) voting in favour of the changes, just so that deselection so take place. What better way to uncontroversially, get rid of all the Blairites and install Corbyintes?

    That would easily get the legislation through the Commons. As for the Lords where Labour is probably less “Corbyn”, then after a couple of tries and failures, May could just use the Parliament Act.

  19. Anthony

    Thanks – found this very informative as a timeline and general details, which I’d not really grasped before.

  20. Thanks Anthony. Very clear and detailed.

  21. I can envisage a situation where the state of the national polls in 2018 will have an impact on how both Labour and Conservative MPs vote on this issue:

    If it is closer than it currently is then I can see some Conservative MPs who are tempted to vote against the changes being coerced into voting for the changes to improve the party’s chance in the next GE.

    On the other-hand if it stays as it is and it looks as though labour are set to lose 40 seats then I can imagine many more Tory back benchers being prepared to rebel. Of course if this is the case then you may find the Corbynite Labour MPs thinking “stuff it – this general election is lost, we might as well use this as a tool to force through mandatory reselection”.

  22. @ ROBERT NEWARK

    There could be a scenario here where, yes there are some Tory rebels on the issue but that these are more than negated by the Corbyn faction (assuming he wins the leadership) voting in favour of the changes, just so that deselection so take place.
    ————————————————–

    The way some in the PLP seem prepared to ‘burn down the village to save it’, there might also be some Labour MPs who could vote in favour of the changes to prove that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn cannot win. (
    That is assuming that Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected of course.)

  23. @Bruce

    Just because you have not heard of some thing, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Just as you thought you saw people unable to entertain summat when in fact they were. Insurance might not happen to cover everything, and if someone says they can’t pay, they might be offered a reduced amount for eggers…

  24. It is important to note that it 8 million missing not, 2 million.

    Although there was only a small overall decline in the completeness of the electoral register between 2014 and 2015 – this was not true universally across the board. Completeness rates increased among older groups, but declined among the young:

    See: http://www.fabians.org.uk/missing-millions/

    [That’s an estimate about the number of people missing off the register overall, but it’s not the argument that Labour have been making in their criticisms of the review over the last couple of days. They’ve instead been focusing on the difference between the Dec 2015 register and the June 2016 register, which is indeed about 2 million. That’s why I put it in there, to explain the background to people hearing the 2 million figure being quoted – AW]

  25. Most interesting Anthony, many thanks.

    I recall from abandoned review that the 600 is supposed to be indefinite time or perpetual rather than just for one parliament.

    Just one general question on Boundary Reviews please. What are the guidelines on naming please? I note that Compass Points seem to be used in most places apart from Birmingham Liverpool and Manchester. Do BR Commissioners prefer Compass Points to area names please? Does the public prefer area names to Compass Points please?

    Thanking you

    [There aren’t really clear guidelines, or at least, not published ones. It’s up to the commissioners. The one clear thing is that in Scotland the Boundary Commission actively avoids giving Scottish Parliament and Westminster Parliament seats the same name, this is why the Westminster Glasgow seats have compass point names, and the Holyrood seats have descriptive names (and slightly more confusingly, in Edinburgh the Westminster names are “South”, etc, and the Holyrood names are “Southern”, etc – AW]

  26. @AW

    Well if Commission are gonna spoil the fun by waiting to the GE to make the changes, and letting peeps see where changes are liable to be…. clearly they need to reconsider the process. I s’ppose if they needed someone to fall on their sword, Cameron’s not as busy as he was…

  27. Let’s stop this talk of “splitting communities”. Communities won’t be split at all. MPs will just have to do a bit more work.
    Also – how selfish of some Tories to block this. Thinking of themselves rather than the good of the party.

  28. And yes – the 600 is now a fixed number, so won’t alter at future reviews.

  29. …until some future government changes the rules again…

  30. @AW

    “It is almost impossible to deny that both parties have taken stances that happen to have helped them electorally”

    ——-

    I recall you pointing out to me that while Tories had tried to accelerate boundary reviews, Labour had tried to stall them. This time it’s a bit of a step change though: introducing a new, formerly out-of-bounds approach. Which is tricky to justify: even if one cleaves to the idea of reducing the nymber of MPs, there’s no particular reason why it has to be reduced by a number advantaging Tories. But leaving this aside, the fun part is that this leaves open the possibility of Labour in future reducing number of MPs further, by a number which coincidentally happens to disadvantage Tories… I seem to recall that bigger reductions might benefit Labour?

    Is this the case and what’s the optimal reduction that would suit Labour?

    [It’s not new, they’ve fiddled about with the rules in the past as well too! When the rules were first set up, for example, they had a strict quota of 25%, but that fell by the wayside. Once upon a time there was also a rural weighting, so seats in the country had smaller electorates to make transport easier. One of the biggest errors in writing about boundary reviews is that the controversy is new, when they all behaved just as badly in the past. The real exception was the fifth review (the one that came into force in 2005 (Scotland) and 2010 (elsewhere), when I don’t think there was any real jiggery-pokery at all… but that is the exception, not the norm.

    The number 600 doesn’t particularly advantage anyone. There’s a reasonable case to be made that any reduction punishes small parties and any increase helps them, but I think that difference is very marginal between 600 and 650 (it would be a far stronger point if the difference was between a large 600-odd chamber and a small 200-odd chamber). Essentially for any given number of seats there are solutions that are more or less favourable to parties and it is impossible to predict for sure which of those the commissions will go for. I suppose in theory one could model every possible solution for 595 seats, and 600 seats, and 605 seats and so on, and find one was on average marginally better or worse for a party, but I doubt there would be much difference and, crucially, you’d need the electorate figures to do it. The 600 figure was set before the Dec 2010 electorate was known, so people are accusing the last government of something that was impossible. Certainly it’s impossible now, as that theoretical “ideal” number to maximise the number of Tory seats would not be the same for the 2015 electorate figures as for the 2010 figures. I think people are reading a nefarious purpose into that decision which it wouldn’t actually have been possible for the last government to do if they’d wanted to!

    Basically, while the strictness of the rules matters, and the register matters and so on, none of it matters as much as timing. The really big different that the Act made, that really helps the Tories, is speeding up the reviews and making them more frequent. All the other stuff is small fry – the thing to keep an eye on when the parties start buggering about with boundary rules is the timing. How fast? How slow? How frequent?

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think the five year thing will stick – the sheer disruption and rigmarole will wear them down and when a future Labour government says what about every ten years Tory MPs will want that rest. That said, if they relax the quotas a bit they could end up having five year reviews, but have most reviews making only small changes. Time will tell – AW]

  31. Thanks, AW, for the clear introduction to this topic.

    However, I think JohnB160 (9.37 a.m.) has a point in raising the question of the difference between ‘those on the electoral roll’ and the actual population. MPs are not expected to limit their help to those on the Roll; they are expected to work for all those who live in the constituency.

    The problem many urban areas have is that of a mobile population, often in short term accommodation and therefore not on the Electoral Roll. IMO the Boundary Commissions ought to be told to base their reccomendations on the Census figures, not on the Electoral Roll.

  32. @AW

    “…until some future government changes the rules again…”

    ——-

    Funny you should say that, I was just writing the post above about it!! Keeps pollsters busy, dunnit…

  33. Anthony
    ‘ When Ted Heath’s Bexley seat disappeared in 1974 he became MP for Sidcup. ‘

    The most obvious successor seat to Bexley in 1974 was the new Bexleyheath seat, but because the latter was thought likely to be an unreliable marginal Heath was given the very solid Sidcup seat which bore little resemblance to his former constituency. Patricia Hornsby-Smith as member for Chislehurst had confidentlt expected to be selected for the new Sidcup seat but ended up having to contest the new Aldridge Brownhills seat in the West Midlands – where she was narrowly defeated in Feb 1974. It effectively ended her Commons career – yet ironically Cyril Townshend held the Bexleyheath seat comfortably for the Tories until 1997!

  34. Carfrew

    …and reduce it further and it’ll benefit the Conservatives again.

    In the limit of reducing it to 1 seat, the Conservatives would hold 100% of all the seats making this parliament thing much easier!

  35. Does the boundary commission consider the impact of people who may be on the electoral roll in more than one place?

  36. It may well be that areas where there is a major gap between those on the electoral roll and those resident in the constituency are the areas where there are more social problems and therefore possibly more work for the MP. I think it would be interesting to look at the issue in a more nuanced way – for example using an index of deprivation of some kind or an allowance in rural constituencies for distance travelled

    I know it would be more complicated but democracy is important and perhaps it would be worth looking at a serious issue in a more detailed way to help MPs give a better service to their constituents.

  37. Now let’s pare down the Lords…

  38. To add to the general amusement, the Standard is reporting that Jeremy Corbyn’s seat will be completely broken up in the Boundary Review! He may have to fight Diane Abbott or Emily Thornberry!

  39. We’ve had this debate before so I won’t labour it, but just to point out that the idea that the job of an MP is to carry out advocacy work on behalf of the residents of their constituency isn’t universally accepted.

    My strong view is that the job of an MP is to educate themselves in relation to the political issues of the day, form an opinion about what laws should be placed before parliament and make decisions about how to vote on those proposed laws.

    All this social work stuff, although admirable, is realy the job of others and has come about, in my opinion, as an extension of electioneering.

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to hold constituency surgeries, but the purpose of these should be for your constituents to let you know what they think about specific issues (which may be local ones that affect them directly, but equally could be national or international ones) rather than to elicit direct personal support for their cause.

  40. @Alan

    “…and reduce it further and it’ll benefit the Conservatives again.

    In the limit of reducing it to 1 seat, the Conservatives would hold 100% of all the seats making this parliament thing much easier!”

    ——

    Peeps might vote differently if it were just one seat though. It might unite the split votes etc.

    Anyway, the limit is really zero seats, which might have summat going for it…

  41. @NEIL A

    “We’ve had this debate before so I won’t labour it, but just to point out that the idea that the job of an MP is to carry out advocacy work on behalf of the residents of their constituency isn’t universally accepted”

    ——

    Yes, for eggers, peeps working in the public sector whom government can more directly affect, might not like being that accountable to constituents’ complaints and recommendations…

  42. @AW

    Well sure, it might be difficult to predict the exact outcome, because don’t know exactly the future electorate or what boundary commission will decide, but it might still be possible to get in the ballpark to figure out if you’ll likely benefit or not?…

  43. Carfrew

    I suspect the errors on the ballpark figure will be larger that the difference in majority created.

    Saying “This will help us by a net 2 +/- 15 seats” is unlikely to go down too well.

  44. “but it’s not the argument that Labour have been making in their criticisms of the review over the last couple of days. They’ve instead been focusing on the difference between the Dec 2015 register and the June 2016 register, which is indeed about 2 million”

    ———-
    Ironic that Labour should be complaining about an electoral purge…

  45. @Alan

    Some might suspect the opposite!! And then we shall see, after the election who lost more seats and we can see whose model was more apt…

  46. Is there any betting on the likely outcome of the seat reallocation?

  47. Carfrew

    The issues with that would be going back and only using data available at the time, using todays data would by definition reduce the uncertainty as we know know the composition of the electoral roll.

    Feel free to try it for the 2025 election though.

  48. @JohnB160

    To add to the general amusement, the Standard is reporting that Jeremy Corbyn’s seat will be completely broken up in the Boundary Review!

    No problem. He could sit on the floor.

  49. @Alan

    Yes, I am aware that hindsight etc. might reduce uncertainty. You’re missing the point and going down the road of needless quibbles again…

  50. Cameron resigning as an MP immediately, ICM give Cons a 13% lead, and the DT reports boundary changes will remove – Jeremy Corbyn’s seat….

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