A final post on boundary changes (at least until the Scottish proposals next month). This comes from a discussion I had with Mark Pack. Normally the thing we look at with boundary changes is what the party-partisan effect is, how the new boundaries would change the sort of swing that Labour need to win a general election. However, currently Labour are a very, very long way from the sort of polling lead they’d need to win a majority, so a small change in that figure really doesn’t make a lot of difference. More interesting in the current political climate is the effect it would have on Labour internal battle and any potential deselections.

The rules for how Labour will deal with re-selections after boundary changes are yet to be confirmed, so these are based on the rules set out for 2011 in the Labour rule book, on the assumption that Labour’s NEC will use similar rules this time round. A Labour MP has a right to seek selection in any seat that contains 40% or more of the electors in their existing seat. If an MP’s seat is divided up so much that no single seat contains 40% of their old electors then they’ll have the right to seek nomination in a seat with less than 40% of their old voters. If they are the only sitting MP to seek selection in a seat, they are nominated through the normal trigger ballot process. If more than one sitting MP seeks the nomination in a new seat there is a members ballot to pick between them.

Applying those rules to the provisional boundaries we can see where there may be contests under those rules. Note that this list is exhaustive, it contains every case where Labour MPs could compete against each other under the selection rules… but in some cases it will be easily avoided through either agreement (there are enough seats to go round) or retirement (an MP will be well over 70 come the general election and possibly considering retirement anyway). Of the 231 Labour members of Parliament in England & Wales, 142 of them should not face any re-selection difficulties connected to boundary changes – they may well see changes to their seat, but there is a single notionally Labour seat to which they have the sole right to seek selection. What about the other 89?

Avoidable Challenges

There are six places where more than one MP would have a right to seek selection for a seat, but where there are enough Labour seats to go round, so if MPs co-operate and agree between themselves who will stand where, no head-to-head challenge is necessary and no one is left empty handed. These are:
Alfreton and Clay Cross. Nastasha Engel and Dennis Skinner both have the right to seek selection here, but Skinner also has the right to seek selection in Bolsover, so a challenge seems unlikely.
East London. Mike Gapes’ seat is sliced up into tiny pieces, and if the NEC follow past practice he should have the right to seek selection in any of the successor seats. He is the only sitting MP with a right to seek selection in the new, ultra-safe, Forest Gate & Loxford seat so I imagine he will go there. If not, he could challenge Wes Streeting, Margaret Hodge or John Cryer (who could, in turn, seek selection in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow)
Redcar. Andy McDonald and Anna Turley can both seek selection in Middlesbrough NE & Redcar, but McDonald is also eligible for the safe Middlesbrough W & Stockton E seat, so a challenge is avoidable.
Ashton Under Lyne. Jonathan Reynolds and Angela Rayner are both eligible, but Rayner is also eligible for the safer Failsworth & Droylsden.
Stockport. This is avoidable, but not without some pain for Ann Coffey. Andrew Gwynne & Ann Coffey are both eligible for the safe Stockport North & Denton seat. Ann Coffey is also eligible for the Stockport South & Cheadle seat, but that is far more marginal (that said, Coffey will be 73 at the next election, so may not stand).
Pontefract. Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett are both eligible to seek selection, but Yvette Cooper also has a free run at Normanton, Castleford and Outwood.

Not Enough Labour seats to go round

The following seven areas have enough seats to go round, but one or more of them is notionally Conservative, so there may be a contest for the winnable seat or someone may be left in a seat that is notionally Conservative:
South London. Siobhain McDonagh’s seat is sliced up. Two of the successor seats, Merton & Wimbledon Common (a potentially winnable marginal) and Sutton & Cheam (no hope) are notionally Conservative, so she will have the choice of fighting one of them, or challenging either Chuka Ummuna or Rosena Allin-Khan.
South-East London. Erith and Thamesmead is split up into Erith & Crayford (a Tory seat) and Woolwich. The only option for a Labour seat for Theresa Pearce is to challenge Matthew Pennycook for the Woolwich nomination. Pennycook has the option of seeking the Woolwich nomination, or going up again Vicky Foxcroft for the Greenwich & Deptford nomination.
Coventry. Geoffrey Robinson’s seat becomes comfortably Conservative on new boundaries, but he has the option of going up against Jim Cunningham for the Coventry South nomination. He’ll be 81 by the next election, so I assume he won’t.
Nottingham. Vernon Coaker’s Gedling seat disappears. Half goes into the Conservative Sherwood seat, so there is the potential of a battle against Chris Leslie for the nomination in the Labour Nottingham East and Carlton seat.
Cumbria. The Workington seat disappears. Part of it goes into the very Conservative Penrith & Solway seat, which is unlikely to be attractive to Sue Hayman, leaving her the option of fighting Jamie Reed for the Whitehaven & Workington seat.
Wrexham. Susan Elan Jones’s Clwyd South seat is dismembered. Part of it goes into the elaborately named De Clwyd a Gogledd Sir Faldwyn seat, but that is notionally Conservative. The other part goes into Wrexham Maelor, where she would have to compete against Ian Lucas for the nomination.
Newport. The Newport seats are combined into one. Jessica Morden would also have the right to seek nomination in Monmouthshire, but that’s solidly Tory leaving one Labour seat between her and Paul Flynn. Flynn will be 85 come the next election, so the issue may well be resolved by retirement.

Straight two way fights

There are seven Labour seats where there are two Labour MPs who are eligible for that seat, and that seat only – meaning a straight fight is unavoidable unless someone stands down:
Sunderland West – Bridget Phillipson vs Sharon Hodgson
Newcastle North West – Catherine McKinnell vs Chi Onwurah
Wednesfield & Willenhall – David Winnick vs Emma Reynolds (though Winnick will be 86)
Stoke South – Rob Flello vs Tristram Hunt
Dudley East & Tipton – Ian Austin vs Adrian Bailey (though Bailey will be 74)
Neath & Aberavon – Stephen Kinnock vs Christina Rees
Cardiff South & East – Jo Stevens vs Stephen Doughty

More complicated fights

There are eight areas where there are rather more complicated fights… but where ultimately there are more Labour MPs than there are seats, so something will have to give:

Birmingham. Roger Godsiff’s seat disppears. He will have the right to seek election in four other Birmingham seats, putting him up against Gisela Stuart, Jess Phillips, Richard Burden or Steve McCabe. He will be 73 come the election though, so may choose to stand down.
Islington & Hackney. The change that got the most attention when the proposals were announced. Essentially Meg Hillier, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Rushanara Ali have to somehow share out the Finsbury Park & Stoke Newington, Hackney West and Bethnal Green and Hackney Central seats. Someone is going to get stuffed.
Rochdale & Bury. Debbie Abrahams, Ivan Lewis, Liz McInnes and Simon Danzcuk are in play, with Rochdale, Prestwich and Middleton and Littleborough & Saddleworth. If Danzcuk remains suspended from the Labour party then the problem presumably resolves itself.
Liverpool. Steve Rotheram’s seat disappears and he would be eligible to challenge Louise Ellman, Peter Dowd or Stephen Twigg for selection in their seats. Rotheram himself is standing for Liverpool mayor, so it won’t be an issue for him. If he steps down though whoever is elected in the subsequent by-election would face the same issue.
Bradford & Leeds. Judith Cummins seat disppears. She is eligible to seek selection for Bradford West (against Naz Shah), in Spen (against Jo Cox’s successor) or in Pudsey, where Rachel Reeves will likely also be seeking the nomination (Leeds West vanishes, but Pudsey takes much of its territory and becomes a notionally Labour seat)
Sheffield. Newly elected Gill Furniss sees her seat dismembered – she is eligible to seek nomination in Sheffield North and Ecclesfield (against Angela Smith) or Sheffield East (against Clive Betts).
Pontypridd. Owen Smith’s seat is dismembered and he will have the right to seek nomination in either Chris Bryant’s Rhondda & Llantrisant or Ann Clwyd’s Cynon Valley and Pontypridd. Ann Clwyd will be 83 by the next election, so it may be resolved by retirement.
Islwyn. Chris Evans’ seat also vanished, and he will have the choice of competing against Nick Smith in Blaenau Gwent or Wayne Davies in Caerphilly.

The deep blue sea

Fourteen Labour MPs do not have a notionally Labour seat they would be eligible to seek selection in. In some cases this is just because of a slight change to an already ultra-marginal seat (e.g. Chris Matheson in Chester notionally loses his seat, but there’s really little change from 2015), in other cases it leaves them with a very difficult fight:

Andy Slaughter would face a Tory majority of 14% in the new Hammersmith & Fulham seat
Gareth Thomas would face a Tory majority of 11% in the new Harrow and Stanmore
Joan Ryan would face a small Tory majority of just 3% in the new Enfield seat
Ruth Cadbury faces a 10% Tory majority in Brentford & Chiswick
Tulip Siddiq faces a 9% Tory majority in Hampstead and Golders Green
Alex Cunningham is only eligible for the nomination in Stockton West, with a 7% Tory majority
Chris Matheson doesn’t actually face much change, but Chester would have a 1% Tory majority on paper
Jenny Chapman faces a notional Tory majority of 1% in Darlington
Madeleine Moon’s Bridgend is merged with the Vale of Glamorgan to create a notionally Tory seat, but with a majority of only 3%
Alan Whitehead’s Southampton Test would have a 4% Tory majority on paper (Southampton Itchen would flip to Labour… but Whitehead doesn’t have the right to go there under Labour rules)
Melanie Orr would be eligible to seek selection in either Grimsby North & Barton or Grimsby South and Cleethorpes. Both, however, would be Conservative.
Holly Walker-Lynch faces a similar situation, under Labour rules she can apply for Calder Valley or Halifax, but they are both notionally Tory.
Finally, in the sorriest situation of all are Margaret Greenwood and Alison McGovern. They are both only eligible to seek selection in the new Bebington & Heswall seat… and even if they do get it, it’s now notionally Tory.

So, by my reckoning there will probably be around 15 re-selection battles where a sitting Labour MP faces up against another sitting Labour MP on the provisional boundaries, though remember that these are subject to change (and it only takes a small adjustment by the boundary commission to shift the number of voters from an old seat above or below 40%). It’s also worth noting that you don’t need boundary changes for a deselection – there is a normal trigger ballot process than can be used to deselect an MP and some of the speculation about deselections – Peter Kyle for example – is not due to Labour seats being merged together.


553 Responses to “Boundary changes – the impact on Labour reselections…”

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  1. @ Sea Change

    It’s tempting to predict lows of 22-23% for Labour, but I would be extremely surprised – there is a core group that is strongly supportive of what Corbyn is doing, and another group that is purely tribal and that would vote for anyone with a Labour logo regardless of name or policy (as there is for the Tories as well)

    Anything below 26-27% would be highly unlikely IMHO… unless something truly catastrophic and unexpected happens.

  2. BFR

    @”Anything below 26-27% would be highly unlikely IMHO”

    I don’t think Polling VI registers with the new Labour Membership. I heard one such in a recent tv interview saying she hadn’t been asked for her opinion-so the Polls don’t mean anything.

    When do you ever hear McDonnell or Corbyn mention them. It is always Party Membership for them. McDonnell said the other day that it could ” reach a million”. This is the “mandate” they will parade in Parliament-our Membership of a Million-and yesterday’s Demo of 100,000.

    Somehow they seem to think that this trumps all other expressions of popular political opinion. Even the de-selection idea-they talk of “changeing” the MP. The Constituency Voters do that. And even if voters in a constituency with a large Labour majority will vote for any variety of Labour candidate-how does that increase Labour Representation in HoC ?

    I must be missing something- I don’t get it.

  3. As I see the recent history, David Cameron moved the Tory party to the ground once occupied by Nu Labour & Tony Blair.
    Many people at the time claimed that Blair was not ‘real’ Labour and did not represent their values, this is still going on today within the Labour party.

    I see a Tory party which especially in terms of social policy has not undone any of the legislation, and has in reality consolidated it and gone even further.

    On economic policy I think it is unfair to judge Cameron as true Tory over austerity, because I think Tony Blair would probably have done something similar given the economic circumstances of the time.

    With the Tories occupying this ground the Labour party has found itself moving to the far left, as a result of not wanting to appear too close to the Tories, and a Blarism many believe to have been discredited.

    This leaves the centre right ground wide open and a party such as UKIP should have moved to capitalise on this, but instead has found itself in disarray following its leadership election.

    What happens from here largely depends on the success of UKIPs new leader who has such a profile deficit I don’t even know her name!
    UKIP could prove a wild card in the 20/20 election for Labour discontents who don’t want to vote for either May or Corbyn, or they might just fade into obscurity.

  4. THOUGHTFUL

    I think “what happens from here” depends on Jeremy Corbyn.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/momentum-labour_uk_57e80146e4b0e81629aa020c

  5. I’m a bit baffled by the conduct of the PLP at the moment. I voted Smith, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s all done with now. Corbyn won an overwhelming majority. His is the view of the clear majority of the Labour Party membership. Continuing, as Benn has, to resist is pointless and I think ultimately harmful to the Labour centre and the Labour right. If the MPs won’t follow the elected leadership, then they give the membership little choice but to deselect them. What else are the membership supposed to do – just tolerate the fact the PLP is completely ignoring the membership? It isn’t the PLP who holds the whip hand in this scenario.

    Even if that doesn’t happen, it means that if Corbyn goes on to underperform, he has a ready made excuse for his failures – disunity in the Labour Party. If people aren’t going to listen to the PLP directly, the only way they will change their minds is if they make the discovery themselves, but the PLP is robbing them of the chance to do that. When the time comes for the PLP to mount another serious challenge to Corbyn, the membership will be thinking “get on yer bike” given how determinedly the PLP are burning through all their political capital.

    I just don’t understand how a faction so apparently focused on pragmatism and doing what is necessary to win seems so incapable of applying this principles to the Labour leadership itself. I’m a bit ashamed and I can’t say I’m entirely sorry to see Smith lose, as much as on a rational level I would have preferred it.

  6. *preferred it had he won, to be clear.

  7. The clash of the Mandates is currently irreconcilable-MPs from their Constituents; Leader from Party Members.-because the Membership has changed-as evident from the Leadership Cohort Voting figures.

    For a Parliamentary Party ,logic & stability surely dictate the following Rules:-

    Party Members Select Constituency Candidates .

    ( Constituency Voters Elect MPs)

    MPs elect their Leader from among their group at Westminster.

  8. @BIGFATRON

    Normally I would agree with you, but we are not facing normal times. The Labour Front Bench must be the most inept of any shadow cabinet ever – by some distance.

    As Colin points out they don’t seem to care about the wider electorate. It’s troubling and wholly bad for our Parliamentary system. Their policies have to be seen as pure to their ideology. Like appointing a militant vegan as Farming Minister. Or creating a Shadow Minister of Disarmament. Or the idea to build nuclear submarines and not put missiles on them!

    @Thoughtful – I agree UKIP should be well placed to mop up much of the working class Brexit voters. Whether they can actually do that considering their chronic disorganization and amateur leadership election is another matter.

    It’s just inconceivable that the Tories won’t get re-elected with a significantly increased majority in 2019/20

  9. The idea to build nuclear subs and not put missiles on them is daft, almost as daft as aircraft carriers without aeroplanes

  10. TOPHAT

    The only conclusion I can draw is that a lot of the PLP are idiots.

    It doesn’t help that many of them are there through nepotism or cosy little cliques formed at Oxford (I have first hand experience to back up this belief).

    I’d be a lot more upset about Corbyn if more of his critics had even the slightest bit of political vision or even basic gumption.

    The country is stuffed anyway, so even if Labour win the next election with a moderate leader, it would not make much difference.

    *Gallic shrug*

  11. MPs do have a duty to their constituents; Labour party officials have a duty to Labour. If resolving that quandry becomes too difficult, which I don’t by any means think it has, the natural answer has to be to resign one or the other of those roles. If there are Labour MPs that think bearing the Labour brand and having the according Labour duties that come with it is such a burden, they can stand as Independents – then there’s no such conflict. However, I rather suspect most who did that would promptly feel to be re-elected. People usually voted for the brand, rather than the individual.

    As it is, it feels like the PLP is trying to have their cake and eat it with this ‘duty to our constituents’ business. And again, I wanted Smith to win, and I don’t think Corbyn is likely to prove electable. I’m just saying that the behaviour of some quarters of the PLP has been beyond terrible, and it made my vote for Smith rather more difficult than it needed to be.

  12. *promptly fail to be

    Auto-correct strikes again!

  13. Perhaps the best thing for most Labour MP’s to consider, is withdrawing from the Labour whip. They form a new Labour group, with their own leader and they have their own shadow department teams coming up with positions on current policies. They don’t resign from the Labour party, but try to recruit new Labour members who prefer policies that are more centre ground and therefore appealing to more voters. Once they are in a position to do so, they launch another leadership contest before a May 2020 election.

    The big problem for most Labour MP’s who want to fight for the centre ground in politics, is obtaining campaign funding. If they seperate themselves off from the rest of the current Labour party members and unions who support Corbyn, then they will have to find alternative funding. With the change in constituencies, they need to be able to organise and usually that costs money in printing leaflets, office expenses etc.

    Unless there is a major scandal involving the Tory party, they are very likely to win by a massive landslide whenever May decides to hold an election. Under the fixed term parliament act, they can try to move a vote of no confidence and obtain the two thirds needed to trigger an early election.

  14. SEA CHANGE

    Under Blair and Cameron, the political mainstream never took account the whole of public opinion, just those centrists in marginal seats.

    A lot of the centrist people complaining now about feeling unrepresented did not have a problem when FPTP was locking out the views of people they disagreed with. Now the boot is on the other foot. I don’t like it, but that is how the system works in the UK.

  15. And @Colin – if Labour members come to agree with your logic, that the chain runs members -> MPs -> leader, then the members may decide that if they can’t get the leader they want, they need to change their MPs. Which is why I said the ultimate end-game of what the PLP is doing is deselections. And that would be a terrible situation for everybody compared to a display of contrition and an agreed co-operation, even if the terms of that co-operation require a careful negotiation and enforcement.

  16. R HUCKLE

    The problem is that the centre ground has collapsed. Continuing with the centre ground policies of 1990s and 2000s is as much pie-in-the-sky impossibilism as the daftest Trot policy.

    Even if a pro-EU party regained power, the EU 27 would have to nuts to let us back in.

  17. @Millie – “I would have 300 seats in a 600 seat second chamber elected by STV, with each member representing two adjoining HoC seats. This would retain linkages with communities and regions: without such a connection, the HoL would inevitably be London-dominated.”

    In my original post this is exactly what I suggested, except that I thought of regional PR lists to maintain political representation from the regions.

    @CR – not really sure why the comment regarding chimney sweeps was bad? Do you have an open fire at home?

  18. As a dispassionate observer of Labour’s turmoil, I agree things look bad but the next election is almost 4 years away. A lot will happen in that time.

    The shine will long have come off Theresa May’s government. Even if she pulls off the seemingly impossible and gets a widely accepted Brexit deal while avoiding recession or an overt split in the party, she are her government will be looking exhausted by then.

    Corbyn will probably look even more exhausted and Labour even more split if he’s still around.

    And that’s surely the key point. Frank Field has called for the PLP to get behind Corbyn, while casting around for an electable successor and grooming him/her for stardom.

    I’m not saying that the Labour party is capable of following such a rational course. But imagine if it did find the right person. Someone with the appeal of Justin Trudeau.

    I think anyone who carries out that thought experiment will conclude that the next election is entirely winnable for Labour. Fresh Trudeau versus tired May? No contest.

    Of course, first the party has to regain its sanity and find the right person. Mission impossible? I don’t know and I’m not especially bothered, but I make my contribution because people here do seem to enjoy debating Labour even more than Brexit.

  19. RE: bicameralism, I’m not entirely sure what the point is of having two elected houses? If their composition is different, then one must be a less accurate picture of the electorate than the other, and so ought to be changed, and if their composition is the same, the same things pass through and one house must be redundant. When I look at examples of bicameralism with two elected houses in other countries – America, Australia, France – I’m rarely filled with confidence. Unicameralism works for the Scandinavians and they seem to get most things right, so why not us?

    If we’re focusing on making a PR house elected by the English regions and the three non-English countries, that sounds a pretty good fit for the Commons to me.

  20. @Sea Change
    I agree with the logic of your post, but I still feel that we will see a significant minority of voters give their polling support to the Labour option, bonkers though that might seem to be to us.

    After all, 40% plus of Americans intend to vote for Trump…

  21. @TOH
    Hats off to you sir! :-)

  22. R HUCKLE
    Unless there is a major scandal involving the Tory party, they are very likely to win by a massive landslide whenever May decides to hold an election. Under the fixed term parliament act, they can try to move a vote of no confidence and obtain the two thirds needed to trigger an early election.

    A bit of a 3-way Morton’s Fork there, I suggest.

    If May tries to call a UK GE before the exit terms are made public, why should any opposition MP help her to find the extra numbers needed for the two thirds majority needed?

    If after then there are two possibilities:

    If they’re great [single market access plus no free movement?] then the likelihood of any opposition MP voting to make up the two thirds becomes even less likely because they all know she’ll win.

    If they’re hard [WTO only, and that after we get around to becoming WTO members?] then May is hardly going to try it.

    Which scenario were you thinking of or do you have another?

  23. TOP HAT

    It is an extra balance check and restraint on the executive.

    As there is no completely fair way of electing legislators, so having different system provides another check against distortions.

    In the USA, this check is a very important as there is not the usual restraint of having a separate Head of State and Prime Minister. The UK has the same de facto situation as the Queen is the de facto puppet of the PM.

    The UK would be very close to an Executive dictatorship without a bicameral parliament (similar to Russia). The reduction in the size of the House of Commons (bearing in the mind the payroll vote which does not exist in most legislatives) already pushes the UK perilously close to that situation.

  24. “RE: bicameralism,…..”

    Well I’ve had enough of this right on PC nonsense.

    Desiring sex with an odd shaped ungulate is just plain perverted, let alone not knowing whether you want to [email protected] a male or female one.

    Should be ashamed of yourselves!

  25. @Hawthorn: I mean, there’s no perfectly fair method, no. But when you have e.g. PR against FPTP, it’s fairly clear which house is going to come out the better when discussions of mandates are brought out. You could have perhaps a legitimate conversation between PR and STV houses, but… they’d be so compositionally similar that I imagine disagreements would be very rare indeed.

    The UK is only an executive ‘dictatorship’ because the executive by definition must have the support of the legislature. If they weren’t in a position to pass the bills they want, they wouldn’t be the executive to begin with. If we just had a single proportional multiparty house instead, forming the executive would require a strong degree of compromise to receive the assent of the legislature, which, I think, is much more effective than just sticking another house on top. That just makes for gridlock, as the US is so amply providing proof for.

  26. @Laszlo

    Corbyn quite likely doesn’t have a majority in Conference. The party is split somewhat in his favour, but the union half of the vote may well not be supportive of him.

    How do unions view the move to vest influence in a “mass movement” that is nothing to do with them, populated largely by ABC1s? They likely view it as the route a loss of influence. And they will vote against anything that heads down that route.

  27. @BARBEZENZERO

    i think the government will run into difficulty with Brexit and find it very difficult to keep any negotiations private with the EU, creating a lot of heat with media and Tory Brexiteers making demands.

    I doubt the EU would concede to free market access without freedom of movement and many Tories would be happy with hard Brexit anyway. Trouble is that many more Tories and business interests would be against a hard form of Brexit, leaving May in a no win position. She will not be able to gain enough support for any EU negotiating outcome. Whether she calls for a vote of no confidence stating that she wants to test her position with the electorate as early as possible, cannot be ruled out.

    It amuses me that Boris Johnson suggest that a Brexit deal can be done within 2 years. Previous negotiations by the EU suggest that they go on for a very long time. Personally i cannot see Brexit happening within 5 years and the Tories risk losing more votes to UKIP, but not enough to not win a landslide against a leftish Labour party.

  28. The way Brexit should be negotiated is by the Turkish example, which shows us the EU countries collapse when blackmailed.

    Invoke article 50 without negotiation impose 50% import tariffs on all EU goods, threaten the repatriation of EU nationals in Britain, and then after a month or so begin negotiations!

    The EU will fold because faced with any kind of challenge the EU has always folded.

    Attempts at negotiation without threat has always failed with the EU because there;s always one country ready to veto a deal.

  29. Alec

    “@CR – not really sure why the comment regarding chimney sweeps was bad? Do you have an open fire at home?”

    Its classism, pure and simple. Dont talk to the plebs because they are stupid and dirty. Of course this was said by his grandfather who was a very different man from his father. Tony Benn would know that such a statement is disparaging to anyone who has a background in menial labour. Im assuming that the grandfather that Hillary was referring to was Tony’s father, I can imagine the heated arguments such a statement would have caused if uttered in Tony’s presence.

  30. TOP HAT

    You could have a strongly PR unicameral parliament. The example would be the Israeli Knesset. That has its own problems of course and has not prevented the very poor use of executive power.

    The option on the table on the UK is to have a withered 600-seat FPTP elected parliament. There is no political means to deliver a Knesset style solution. Any proposal to abolish the House of Lords proposed by a Conservative Executive would be designed to strengthen a Conservative Executive and weaken parliament. If that were not the case, they would have abolished it when they had an in-built majority.

    The UK is not currently an executive dictatorship because the legislative can block legislation and there are enough MPs to counteract poor legislation. With no House of Lords and a withered House of Commons, Parliament would simply become a rubber stamp for the Executive (which would have no proper democratic mandate) and the UK would cease to be a Democracy in any meaningful sense.

    What should happen is that the House of Lords is replaced by a PR-elected Senate which would then quite rightly gain superiority over the Commons. That will never be the choice of the Executive for obvious reasons and will only ever happen if the Executive are beaten into accepting it.

  31. @R HUCKLE @BARBAZENZERO

    The no confidence provision in the FTPA is a simple majority.

    Therefore the Tories could trigger a General Election at any time of their choosing by voting against themselves – as crazy as that sounds.

    Remember the FTPA was drafted when the Tories were a minority government and was there to protect the Lib Dems against Cameron calling an early election against their detriment (the 5 year Parliament was pretty catastrophic anyhow for them!)

    (The 2/3 majority provision is for a vote for a General Election in the house).

  32. R HUCKLE
    Personally i cannot see Brexit happening within 5 years and the Tories risk losing more votes to UKIP, but not enough to not win a landslide against a leftish Labour party.

    OK. I agree with that and most of the rest of that post, and an internal Con squabble is perhaps the best hope Lab have of there not being an increased Con majority in 2020. I do think she would have to be very clear on what the options are before she would succeed in obtaining an early GE.

    A Con split over Brexit could even conceivably result in some form of “National” government alliance to serve out the term until 2020, for which the price would be a re-think of MP numbers, the current electoral role and the boundaries.

    PS: As I have said to others, please refer to me as BZ if copy/paste is a problem or unavailable.

  33. @Thoughtful

    Ha! I’d pay good money to see Junker’s face in those circumstances.

  34. SEA CHANGE @R HUCKLE @BARBAZENZERO
    The no confidence provision in the FTPA is a simple majority.

    Indeed, but if May does engineer that, with a 3-line whip on all Cons to vote against her, won’t she have to tell Brenda and advise her to let Corbyn have a go at forming a government, so that he will be in #10 for the 2nd failed confidence vote and during the GE campaign?

    Sir Humphrey would have called that courageous!

  35. CAMBRIDGERACHEL
    “Its classism, pure and simple. Dont talk to the plebs because they are stupid and dirty. Of course this was said by his grandfather who was a very different man from his father. Tony Benn would know that such a statement is disparaging to anyone who has a background in menial labour. Im assuming that the grandfather that Hillary was referring to was Tony’s father, I can imagine the heated arguments such a statement would have caused if uttered in Tony’s presence.”

    It’s a turn of phrase, an outdated one sure, but nothing more. Honestly, the verocity with which Corbynites dislike Hilary Benn, place his father on a pedestal and cast aspersions as to the relationship between the two is actually quite revolting.

  36. @CR

    I’m with you on the chimney sweep comment, at the time it was made by Benn’s grandfather I’m sure it was meant as “don’t interact with the plebs”.

    But I suspect Hilary made it without realising (at the time) its classist overtones – it was likely intended in the sense of “don’t get down in the gutter”.

  37. I think all this speculation about the Brexit negotiations is not telling us anything new. The key thing is that the referendum gave a go-ahead for EU exit, but did not specify the terms. The terms need to be negotiated by the government. The government can therefore negotiate what it feels is in the best interests of the country, irrespective of what the zealots on either side want. If TM feels that the negotiation process is not going well after the invocation of article 50 she can fire Boris, Fox and Davies and appoint new people. Bismarck once said that ‘politics is the art of the possible’, which means that in order to achieve a result you have to be realistic about what to aim for. Asking for the impossible is not going to lead to progress.

    My forecast is that the negotiations will be difficult to start with as both sides start from polarised positions, but over time this will soften and a compromise will be reached. Most of the compromise will need to come from the UK side though. My feeling is that an EEA type arrangement will emerge, with some more disincentives for immigration but not a complete limit on free movement.

  38. If the grauniad’s Anti-Brexit group lodges legal challenge over article 50 procedure is correct, the A50 legal challenge in London will begin on 2016-10-13.

    So battle will commence over A50 in Belfast, where October showdown date fixed for legal challenge to Brexit – Belfast Telegraph informs us that:
    Mr Justice Maguire said he was pencilling in October 4 and 5 to hear legal challenges to Brexit.

    In some ways, that may prove to be the more important test, since the question of parliamentary approval isn’t the only issue, viz:
    Mr McCord and his legal team contend that Brexit will undermine the UK’s domestic and international treaty obligations set under the Good Friday Agreement.

    The campaigner, whose son Raymond McCord Jr was murdered by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997, is taking the case amid concerns that EU money for victims of the Troubles may be discontinued.

    MLAs, backed by representatives of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, are also contesting the legality of the Brexit process.

  39. Thoughtful: “Invoke article 50 without negotiation impose 50% import tariffs on all EU goods, threaten the repatriation of EU nationals in Britain, and then after a month or so begin negotiations!”

    Threatening to shoot yourself in the head if you don’t get your way is an interesting negotiating tactic, but probably depends for its effectiveness on people liking you enough to save you from yourself.

  40. TANCRED
    My feeling is that an EEA type arrangement will emerge, with some more disincentives for immigration but not a complete limit on free movement.

    Given that Switzerland just got the very small sop of being able to “prefer” Swiss nationals to other EEA residents, that seems very likely. We will have to wait and see whether Swiss nationals accept that in a 2nd referendum next February, but my guess is that they will.

  41. Somerjohn

    Threatening the EU with us not even joining the WTO would probably be met with a bemused shrug and preparations to handle the influx of human capital.

  42. SOMERJOHN

    The EU sell far more to us than we do to them. The German economy is more fragile than you might have been led to believe, and a huge fall in exports to the UK could cause it to implode.

    https://geopoliticalfutures.com/signs-of-trouble-for-deutsche-bank/

    The structure of the German economy is very different to that of our own .
    Britain is Germanys number one export market with 810 000 cars sold here last year.

    Concentrating minds in the EU is the only way to force them into any kind of agreement.

    Trying to negotiate with a ‘hydra’ and reach agreement is a fools errand which can never succeed.

  43. Somerjohn

    Its quite a common tactic, just look at the PLP

  44. @BARBAZENZERO

    “Given that Switzerland just got the very small sop of being able to “prefer” Swiss nationals to other EEA residents, that seems very likely. We will have to wait and see whether Swiss nationals accept that in a 2nd referendum next February, but my guess is that they will.”

    One option would be to introduce a law to force employers to consider UK nationals before EU people and, lastly, non-EU candidates for any job opening. This measure, combined with stricter benefit rights, would help to control the immigration flow.

  45. Good afternoon all from the overcast People’s (Socialist) Republic of London

    @Jamie

    ‘Honestly, the verocity with which Corbynites dislike Hilary Benn’

    Add to that their lack of electoral literacy, general nastiness, incompetence etc etc and you have the reasons why have I have decided to leave the Labour Party after 26 years. I will re-join when they are serious about getting back into power and actually doing something tangible for the people the party claims to represent. Till then the money I would have given to the party and my own time will go to support charities that stand a chance of doing some good. My guess I won’t need to re-join until about 2030.

    I will be interested to see how many others decide to leave, I suspect not that many to be honest. But I do think Labour’s VI will continue on its downward trajectory.

  46. @THOUGHTFUL

    “The EU sell far more to us than we do to them. The German economy is more fragile than you might have been led to believe, and a huge fall in exports to the UK could cause it to implode.”

    Nonsense. If you think that EU leaders are only concerned about trade you are very much mistaken. They are willing to take the hit if necessary – this is about more than just trade, it’s about the very principles of the EU.

    “The structure of the German economy is very different to that of our own .
    Britain is Germanys number one export market with 810 000 cars sold here last year.

    Concentrating minds in the EU is the only way to force them into any kind of agreement.

    Trying to negotiate with a ‘hydra’ and reach agreement is a fools errand which can never succeed.”

    Hysterical nonsense. Even under WTO rules cars from Germany will continue to be sold here, just at higher prices. BMW, VW/Audi and Mercedes are not quaking with fear, to be sure. If they lose sales they will change their approach and take the loss.

  47. TANCRED
    One option would be to introduce a law to force employers to consider UK nationals before EU people and, lastly, non-EU candidates for any job opening. This measure, combined with stricter benefit rights, would help to control the immigration flow.

    That should certainly be enough to get full EEA access, although it would probably cost more in net EU contributions than we spend now. Of course, had the Cons wanted to they could have controlled non-EU migration properly from 2010 and perhaps not needed to hold the referendum at all.

  48. Tancred

    I think the suggestion was we don’t join the WTO so we can impose whatever tarriffs we like.

    As a threat it doesn’t have a lot going for it.

  49. @Hawthorn

    I don’t think the analogy to Israel is very apt. They might have the electoral system I describe, but the base political system it rests on is utterly incomparable.

    I agree that this is not being talked about, of course. But neither (seriously) is Lords reform. So we’re both talking about what we’d do in ideal worlds, rather than what are genuine proposals on the table.

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