An update on the boundary review. Back in September I published notional figures for the proposed boundaries in England & Wales. I’ve now updated those to include Scotland as well (this is partly because the Scottish boundary Commission published later, but it also took much longer to do – the Scottish Commission are much happier to split wards between constituencies, which probably leads to constituencies that better follow communities… but it makes it trickier to work out notional figures.)

Notional figures for new boundaries for England, Wales and Scotland

The partisan effects in Scotland are no great surprise. The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in 2015, so it was inevitable that most of the losses will be SNP. That aside, on the new boundaries they will be even more dominant. Orkney & Shetland is a protected seat so the sole Liberal Democrat constituency is retained, but Labour and the Conservatives will both see their single Scottish constituency disappear on the new boundaries.

Edinburgh South, the lone Labour seat in Scotland, is split between the new Edinburgh East and Edinburgh South West & Central seats. Both will notionally have an SNP majority of over 4000 – Edinburgh East will be a SNP-Lab marginal, with a SNP majority of 7.9%, Edinburgh SW&C will be a three-way marginal with the SNP in first place, the Conservatives in second place and Labour close behind them.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, the lone Tory seat in Scotland, mostly goes into Clydesdale & Eskdale, with the rest of the seat split into several much smaller parts. The new Clydesdale & Eskdale seat will have a notional SNP majority of about 5000. On paper the best seat for the Tories will be the new Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk seat, with a notional SNP majority of only 1.3% (though that’s an increase from 2015).

Now we have notional figures for the whole of Great Britain we can work out national totals and what sort of swings would be needed for parties to win a general election on these boundaries.

The 2015 general election had results of CON 330, LAB 232, LDEM 8, SNP 56, Others 24.
On the proposed boundaries the 2015 general election would have been CON 319, LAB 203, LD 4, SNP 52, Others 22. The Conservatives lose 11 seats, Labour lose 29, the Lib Dems 4 and the SNP 4.
Note that on the boundaries proposed for the abandoned review in the last Parliament the results would have been Con 322, Lab 204, LD 4 and SNP 50 – so this new boundary review is actually marginally worse for the Tories than the one that was blocked before the election.

I should add my normal caveat that these notionals are an accounting exercise – projecting how people voted in each ward, moving them into their new seats and totting up the votes. It does not take into account that some people might have voted differently in 2015 if they’d lived in different seats, for that reason I suspect it may slightly underestimate the Liberal Democrats (and it’s possible that the Greens might actually have saved their seat).

We can also look at what difference the boundaries would make to the leads each party needs to win an election.

  • Currently the Conservatives need to have a lead of 5.7% to get an overall majority (hence the 6.5% lead they actually got translating into only a tiny majority). On the proposed boundaries the Tories would get an overall majority with a lead of only 1.9%.
  • In contrast Labour currently need a towering lead of 12.6% to win an overall majority, and the boundary changes would move that target even further away, requiring a lead of 13.5%. To even be the largest party Labour would need a lead over the Conservatives of 4.7% (up from 3.9% on the current boundaries).

(One might reasonably wonder why, if the review makes nearly all the seats the same size, it still leaves the Conservatives in a better position than Labour. This is because different seat sizes is only one part of how votes translate unevenly into seats. The crucial part in explaining the present Conservative advantage is the distribution of the vote and the impact of third parties. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the growth of the SNP and UKIP means the system now favours the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are primarily strong in areas that would otherwise be Tory… but now win very few seats, UKIP have largely taken votes from the Tories, but this has not translated into many seats. In contrast the SNP are now utterly dominant in an area that previously returned a large number of Labour MPs. What this means if that if there is a Lib Dem revival or a Labour revival in Scotland the skew towards the Conservatives will unwind.)

These are only provisional recommendations – the boundary commissions will revise them based on the consultation period, so much of the detail will be tweaked before the final recommendations. It’s also far from a certainty that they will actually be implemented when they are complete. Earlier this month Pat Glass MP had a Private Members Bill which if passed would tweak some of the rules of the review, requiring the Commissions to start the process again from scratch and therefore probably delaying it beyond the election. I doubt the Bill will go far – it is nigh on impossible to pass a Private Members Bill in the face of government opposition. However, second reading did highlight some opposition to the boundary changes. Firstly, the DUP spoke against the boundary changes – there had been some speculation around conference season that there had been some sort of deal and the DUP were onside. They are apparently not. Secondly two Conservative MPs (Peter Bone and Steve Double) voted in favour of the Bill. It doesn’t take many rebels to stop the boundary changes progressing…


295 Responses to “Boundary review update”

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  1. @Carfrew
    Re: Your link
    This is a quote:
    “18-30s are more willing than any other age group to give up nights out in order to reach their savings goal, and would give these up over their gym membership or online subscription services like Netflix or Spotify.”

    When your despised ‘boomers’ were that age there were no gymns or Netflix or Spotify. We actually had to give up real things, like holidays. Meals out were a rarity for most people. I believe that you count yourself as a ‘boomer’. Why do you hate yourself?

    @RAF
    “As young people were kept apart from becoming homeowners at reasonable prices,…. ”

    This varies a lot by area. I suggest that some views about property prices are based on London and its environs, which is not typcal.
    My daughter bought a terraced house in the Black Country for about £30,000 about 15 years ago when she was 19 and only had an ordibary job, and we didn’t help. It’s now probably worth about £80,000. Is this unaffordable?

    @ R Huckle
    “But i suspect many would be pleased if Brexit was stopped from happening by legal problems or forces outside of Parliament.”

    That would risk revolution.

    @Tancred
    “..therefore I am losing £16k for no reason at all other than the whim of the government…”

    No, the reason is that your generation are living longer than has previously been accoubted for.

    “What needs to happen is some form of means testing, so that the like of retired surgeons and judges do not get the state pension at all, as they so obviously don’t need it!”

    Even though they’ve paid for it? And even though they’re a tiny percentage of the population?

  2. Sorry ‘accoubted ‘ should obviously have been ‘accounted’.

  3. @PETE B

    “@Tancred
    “..therefore I am losing £16k for no reason at all other than the whim of the government…”
    No, the reason is that your generation are living longer than has previously been accounted for.”

    Says who? Some nerd in a statistical office? Rubbish. My generation is still relatively young – I am a ‘generation x’ person – so how on earth can they assume that I will love longer? Guesswork, that’s all.

    ““What needs to happen is some form of means testing, so that the like of retired surgeons and judges do not get the state pension at all, as they so obviously don’t need it!”
    Even though they’ve paid for it? And even though they’re a tiny percentage of the population?”

    Paid for what? Taxes are taxes and it’s the government to decide how the money is spent. Means testing for rich final salaried pensioners should definitely be an option instead of the insane increase in the pension age.

  4. @Jasper “@Danny Of course it’s down to “Jeremy”. This is a small “c” conservative country. We don’t do revolution, only evolution. If Labour is to have any chance, it needs to get behind Brexit, have a robust immigration policy and stop sneering at its traditional supporters. The only group of voters where the Labour Party is ahead is amongst the 18-24 year olds….and they don;’t get out of bed to vote !!
    Ye gods !”

    100% correct. Labour MUST do a 180 on immigration and dump the sneering metropolitan attitude. Anybody with half a brain can see that it is impossible for them to recover if they continue to act like they are the “London Party”.

    But with the top team of Corbyn, Abbott, Thornberry, McDonnell all London-centric and all apparently living in la-la land, can you see that happening any time soon?

    I can’t.

  5. @Tancred

    Anybody basing their retirement plans on the ponzi scheme known as the state pension is in for severe disappointment.

  6. @Barbazenzero

    Have you had a chance to read the Government’s submission to the Supreme Court yet? If so have you any comments?

  7. @SEA CHANGE

    “@Tancred
    Anybody basing their retirement plans on the ponzi scheme known as the state pension is in for severe disappointment.”

    I’m not, but the state pension is an essential safety net. Remove it and it will be catastrophe for many.
    My solution is to bring back 65 as the state retirement age forever – but means test it to death.

  8. @Pete B

    I don’t “despise” boomers, lol, that’s just you playing the victim again. The ladder-pulling subset of boomerdom aren’t exactly the most helpful, but doesn’t do much good to hate them.

    Regarding Netflix, Spotify, gym memberships etc., These are the new ways of maintaining a social network. Partly because the old ways, like going for a drink, are so expensive now. Increasing numbers of youngsters are teetotal for example, and they’re also worried about getting drunk in case wind up pictured online. Even gig prices often inflated by boomers. People can’t get about in cars and on trains like they used to with such fuel costs etc. so high. But flights can be cheap so they might do more of that…

    All this is just quibbling at the margins though. If you think foregoing a few meals out so you can work on your home a bit instead outweighs the fact you could get your own house for only twice annual earnings, watch it massively inflate in price while enjoying full employment, benefit from all the cheap privatised shares and detmutualising Buikding societies and the housing subsidies and not needing to pay massive childcare fees because could finance a family on one wage, energy bills not through the roof, very good pensions etc. etc.

    And if you live in the banking orbit, see your assets acquired via being so supported inflated via QE too!! The idea that stuff like Netflix and Spotify outweigh all this is comical.

    Additionally, think I might have indicated before, that many boomers could afford to be less social because situation more secure. Current youth need a better social network to compensate for the insecurity, and in today’s gig economy, socialising can bring work.

  9. @Pete B

    I should add, that the trend has been for people to become more detached from their extended family, and extended families can be smaller too. People move about more, families are smaller, and break up more, so can’t get as much support from extended families so they depend on friends more, hence need to socialise…

  10. @Tancred

    Can see the argument for means testing, but tend towards keeping things universal and clawing back the money from the richer via taxation as it’s efficient and more peeps have some buy-in. Once you means test then admin costs go up and fewer get the benefit so are ok with it being cut.

  11. Jasper22,
    “Of course it’s down to “Jeremy”.
    This is a small “c” conservative country. We don’t do revolution, only evolution.”

    Blair managed to strike a successful balance until he moved too far to the right. The liberals moved to the right and were destroyed. Labour has been losing core votes because of moving to the right.

    “The only group of voters where the Labour Party is ahead is amongst the 18-24 year olds….and they don’t get out of bed to vote !!”
    yes, but why? (ahead, I mean, not staying in bed). How many people even know what Corbyn’s policies are? Or labours? What would you know about labour listening to the news from time to time?

    Andrw111,
    ” But generation rent are going to get quite pissed off soon and I think these are the people in Momentum who are casting around for a revolution to foment…Well that is perhaps over-apoclyptic”

    I dont think so. It only takes a relatively small block to swing a big change. Trump and Brexit are knife edge choices.

  12. sea Change,
    “Anybody basing their retirement plans on the ponzi scheme known as the state pension is in for severe disappointment.”

    Ah but it isnt a ponzi scheme. Thats where money is paid in by punters and used to pay dividends, but then when everyone expects their capital back they find it is gone. If you want a ponzi scheme, go to the private sector. There you are betting that some investment will in the future be enough to fund the pension, and of late track records have been decidedly dodgy.

    The Uk state system simply relies upon current revenue to pay pensions, and tax revenue is far more reliable than someones guess what an investment will be worth in the future. What you get will be decided by the government of the day, so be careful who you vote for.

    Tancred,
    “My solution is to bring back 65 as the state retirement age forever – but means test it to death.”
    Doesnt work. That is the system we have now. Government ends up paying more and more in additional benefits. If you know your future will be a means tested one, then the best financial plan is not to have any means. You have to give people an incentive to provide for themselves, or they will not do so. Just use income tax to claw back some of that higher pension.

  13. @Tancred

    Another problem with means testing is stigma, or people foregoing benefits to avoid stigma…

  14. Danny: “Just use income tax to claw back some of that higher pension.”

    On a more general level, it always puzzles me that you never see it suggested that all benefits should be taxable.

    At first sight, that would seem an anti-egalitarian measure, but if it replaced all means testing it would relieve recipients of the stress and uncertainty of means testing, while hugely simplifying government admin. It would eliminate the disincentive to take up work that results from benefits being tax-free while wages aren’t. And if it cut the net benefits bill, the levels of benefits could be increased to restore the original net cost – which would leave those with incomes under the income tax threshold better off relative to those above.

    I haven’t thought through all the implications of this, and I’m sure it isn’t a panacea, but as I said, I’m puzzled that I never see it discussed. Any thoughts?

    (As a concrete example: the special arrangements for clawing back child benefit from high earners seem absurd and inequitable. Why not simply make them taxable?)

  15. We have a real political problem, which i have not heard anyone address properly. The problem is that of many voters not being able to identify any political party that represents their views. People have voted for change, but might not like the change or be disappointed with failed delivery of what was offered.

    In the US, we will see Republicans running politics from January, but many areas don’t support them. Trump is not liked by many Republicans and it will be interesting whether he can work well with those he has appointed. If Trump does try to impose policies which are seemingly anti free market and against business interests, then i can see him getting into problens, where he cannot satisfy voters with the ‘American jobs for American people’ or whatever slogan he used. I really cannot see Trump implementing much of what he said during the campaign. With the US having a massive national debt, there might not be much room for a huge corporation tax cut.

    In the UK, we have a difficult position with Brexit and what Brexit actually means. Theresa May has no choice but to try to implement Brexit and so far the polling suggests that people are trusting her to obtain the best deal. Her problem will come, if Article 50 is triggered, when it is revealed that the only option available is outside of free market/customs union and subject to WTO rules until a trade deal is agreed with the EU. I don’t see the other EU countries and EU Parliament agreeing to offer the UK most current UK EU terms, with no free movement, no ( or reduced) financial contribution etc.

    When people suddenly realise impact of the hard Brexit deal, they will be confused as to whether any short term pain would be worth it. Also which party is offering them policies they can support. The Tories would be split on a hard Brexit, with many businesses very unhappy. Theresa May would struggle to gain Parliamentary support. With Labour, it is difficult to predict what position they might have, but as a guess, most Labour MP’s would vote against a hard Brexit.

    If we do end up in 2 years time with a Brexit that most Tory and Labour MP’s won’t support, then many who voted leave but cannot vote UKIP, will be left without a party they feel they can support. It is potentially worse for Labour, as they might lose millions of people, who decide that it is pointless voting.

    We have discussed Trump and Brexit etc, trying to understand why people wanted to vote against status quo. But if the change offered turns out not to be available or worse than the status quo, then you have a real problem. Voters who don’t like those they voted in and don’t like the previous party in power either.

  16. R Huckle,
    yes exactly. Both Brexit and Trump are a revolt by voters against the existing options. A phenomenon not confined to the US and UK. There was a popular revolt against the status quo in Greece, not that it did much good. Or maybe it did, hard to say. There is massive discontent, at least by some parts of the population, with the existing economic system, and dissipating identificaion with established political parties.

    I think despite their apparent popularity the conservatives are in a very difficult position. Everything depends on a good outcome from Brexit, or failing that passing blame to someone else. Ukip perhaps, or the voters themselves. Blaming voters for a bad outcome? Labour’s best card may be their relative disengagement from the whole process of Brexit. Having clean hands when it goes wrong could be very valuable electorally, and their voters are less pro Brexit than conservatives. If it goes well, then they have tagged along in a constructively sceptical way.

    Everyone is waiting to see how things pan out, and then salvage what they can. There would seem to be a few politicians who are jumping ship from the ‘the people have decided’ line.

    But Brexit is a passing fad. It will go well or badly, and then the background disenchantment with the status quo will remain. But more people will be disenchanted.

  17. The worry is that what many people want is not achievable – billions more for the NHS by stopping non-existent health tourism, far fewer immigrants but no increase in the price of fresh food or care, increased job opportunities for the less qualified by bringing in protections but free trade for our goods and service exports, lower taxes but better services – the list goes on.

    This is what concerns me, where populists promise a future in the sunny uplands if only we – chuck out immigrants / leave the EU / end abortion & gay marriage / *insert populist policy of choice here – not caring if it is remotely possible as long as they can achieve their own particular ends.

    At best this ends in disappointment; at worst it ends in war…

  18. Jeez-what a gloomy place this has become.

    Those of a nervous disposition-look away now :-) :-)

  19. Somerjohn

    You and I don’t often agree but found your recent post quite interesting:

    “On a more general level, it always puzzles me that you never see it suggested that all benefits should be taxable.”

    As you say the idea needs thinking through but could well save money while being effective.

    R Huckle & Danny

    Re your comments about the fallout from a possible “hard” brexit. I am not convinced that the Tories will necessarily suffer any big hit as you imply. The public say that the Tories are not handling the Brexit negotiations well at the moment, as shown by the answers to polling questions on that issue, but it appears to have had no effect on support for the Tories. Of course as a polling question it is rather daft since we are not actually negotiating at the moment, but it has been asked and answered. If the Government continue to be perceived as managing the economy better than any of their potential replacements, and having a better leader even if things get tougher economically I don’t see why the polls would move significantly.

    If Brexit goes badly then there will be disappointment, that’s obvious but will the Tories necessarily get the blame after all all they are trying to do is implement the result of a referendum with a clear result.

    IFS at Commons Treasury Select Committee

    Paul Johnson of the IFS conceded that the predicted downturn may not materialise and said it was too early to for firm predictions over the economic effects of leaving the EU. He also said he did not think any downturn would be anything close to the what happened in 2008. He also commented on the OBR’s forcast of growth down to1.4% in 2017 by saying there is uncertainty about it, it may not materialise. However he did repeat his claim that the UK was facing years zero wage. No great publicity on the BBC about his latest comments except the latter.

  20. R Huckle
    Good point. I think the problem is compounded by the incoherence of the positions of Con and Lab.

    I wouldn’t bet against most (enough?) of the Tory party uniting round whatever Brexit platform May eventually comes up with, but she’s taking so long to do this that I think her credibility is at risk. Also, for as long as it seems she hasn’t made up her mind about what kind of deal she wants to pursue it leaves room for all manner of Tory politicians to advocate publicly for all manner of Brexit deals; the longer that goes on the harder it will be for them to unite around an official position and the weaker May looks.

    Labour. Well. Appointing Starmer was an interesting move, but it’s not clear what their stance is. Some polling on whether their Remain voters are more discontented than their Leave voters with their approach to Brexit would be interesting. They don’t seem to be doing a very good job of holding the government to account, as the official Opposition should.

    Whatever one thinks of the stances of the SNP, LDs and UKIP they do at least have coherent positions. I’d say that the SNP get top marks for their initial response, although the issue of a potential second independence referendum remains a potential bear-trap. LDs are benefiting from Lab’s incoherence and disarray and I think the Richmond bye-election has been helpful for them. UKIP: clear enough what they want, they’re fine so long as they have the luxury of sniping from the sidelines. They don’t seem to have to answer the same questions as the Tories about the consequences of hard Brexit.

  21. @Candy – “But where are you getting the figures for your debts?”

    Well you could try researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7584/CBP-7584.pdf – ‘Household Debt:Statistics and Impact on the UK Economy.’

    It’s a good summary of the situation, and more up to date than some of the data I was previously using. It takes data from the ONS and Bank of England, so you don’t need to worry about the data quality. You were right – some of my data was suspect – but it doesn’t help your theory as household debt is actually much higher than I said, at £1.77tr! Most of the data I quoted lifted their data from the same sources but it looks like they were running on older data.

    Gross household debt fell in 2009 by 1.1%, falling again in 2010 by a tiny 0.19%, rising steadily year on year from then by a total of 11.74% to reach a record level in 2016. Population increase doesn’t account for this as I’ve already demonstrated. Mortgage debt forms 88% of the total, and again confounding your theory, is rising.

    It also blows a gaping hole in your post pointing towards Germany and the US as having lower outright ownership than the UK. While they may have lower outright ownership, they also have far lower relative debt. On page 13 it shows OECD countries ranked by household debt as a proportion of incomes. In the UK we are at 142.7%, while the US is 105.6% and Germany 85.4%. There are other countries worse off than the UK, but the UK is 8th from 21.

    What you will notice from these figures is that the debt to income ration has fallen, from 159.7% in 2007 to 140.5% in 2016. Had you argued this, you would have been correct, even as debts themselves are rising, but you didn’t, and you couldn’t be bothered to check figures, relying only on dismissing any data that you didn’t like.

    It may also be worth noting that the OBR projects debt ratios to rise to a record 164% by 2021.

    “Also – you claim that this summer the Nationwide started offering mortgages to 85, no numbers of how many took up this mortgage, but you claim that in just six months of being on offer it will result in 30% of retirees having mortgages? Doesn’t add up…”

    Now you really are being a numpty. Mortgages last for 25 years. Many mortgages were offered pre 2008 with terms extending into retirement. Then they were stopped for a year or two, and in the last few years they were started again, but now with the upper age limit being extended even further than before. Those older mortgage payers appearing now will have had their mortgages from before the crash.

    The central premise of my original post remains entirely intact. Consumers are borrowing ever higher amounts, with debts at record levels. It is therefore arguably accurate to describe the economic recovery as being ‘debt fueled’, although it should be noted that debt to earnings ratios are lower than in 2008, albeit set to rise rapidly in the next five years. We compare very unfavourably to the US and Germany, in direct contradiction of one of your posts, and there is overwhelming evidence that pensioner debt is rising, despite many people paying off mortgages early. Debt servicing costs are undoubtedly lower, but that hasn’t, as you suggest, worked to reduce debt – quite the opposite.

    I think I’ve gone as far as I can with presenting you with actual evidence and data. You won’t read, accept and understand this, but that is your prerogative. I’m satisfied that others on the board will appreciate the detail and can make more reasoned judgements than you are prone to, but it’s been an interesting discussion, although now, work beckons.

  22. R Huckle
    Good point. I think the problem is compounded by the incoherence of the positions of Con and Lab.

    I wouldn’t bet against most (enough?) of the Tory party uniting round whatever Brexit platform May eventually comes up with, but she’s taking so long to do this that I think her credibility is at risk. Also, for as long as it seems she hasn’t made up her mind about what kind of deal she wants to pursue it leaves room for all manner of Tory politicians to advocate publicly for all manner of Brexit deals; the longer that goes on the harder it will be for them to unite around an official position and the weaker May looks.

    Labour. Well. Appointing Starmer was an interesting move, but it’s not clear what their stance is. Some polling on whether their Remain voters are more discontented than their Leave voters with their approach to Brexit would be interesting. They don’t seem to be doing a very good job of holding the government to account, as the official Opposition should.

    Whatever one thinks of the stances of the SNP, LDs and UKIP they do at least have coherent positions. I’d say that the SNP get top marks for their initial response, although the issue of a potential second independence referendum remains a potential bear-trap. LDs are benefiting from Lab’s incoherence and disarray and I think the Richmond bye-election has been helpful for them. UKIP: clear enough what they want, they’re fine so long as they have the luxury of sniping from the sidelines. They don’t seem to have to answer the same questions as the Tories about the consequences of hard Brexit.

  23. @Sorbus,

    There is something dangerous I feel for the way Sturgeon and the SNP are fighting the Brexit referendum, now submitting legal argument too. I even heard Sturgeon say the UK shouldn’t ignore the 48% who voted remain. But when you are a one issue party, and that issue requires a referendum, which if you eventually win will be narrow, then havnt you already lost a lot of goodwill and political momentum when you have campaigned so vociferously against the legitimate outcome of a previous referendum. lol

  24. Word of the day (with apologies to those who I am teaching to suck eggs)

    Lawfare:

    Lawfare is a form of asymmetric warfare, consisting of using the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, tying up their time or winning a public relations victory. The word is a portmanteau of the words law and warfare.

    Lawfare may involve the law of a nation turned against its own officials, but more recently it has been associated with the spread of universal jurisdiction, that is, one nation or an international organization hosted by that nation reaching out to seize and prosecute officials of another.

    This is a technique which appears to be increasingly used by activists on the Left to disrupt government business they don’t like, but also the use of state bodies overseeing certain areas of business.

    It is an abuse of both the legal & democratic process, and I can see a time when a government will have to exempt itself from legal oversight to get its business passed. Of course this is not a desirable outcome for anyone, but I do not believe that those abusing the system care very much.

  25. Alec: “It may also be worth noting that the OBR projects debt ratios to rise to a record 164% by 2021.”

    This must presumably account for a significant portion of forecast GDP growth in the next 5 years. Absent this increase in personal debt (to use a bit of hideous Americanese: I should really write ‘In the absence of…’) will there be any growth at all?

    I’d have a go at the numbers but I’m about to set off on my 1,400 mile return drive from my Mediterranean autumn/winter sojourn. Chilly weather awaits, I see).

  26. @COLIN
    “Jeez-what a gloomy place this has become.
    Those of a nervous disposition-look away now :-) :-)
    November 30th, 2016 at 9:13 am”

    Unless Politicians provide a positive case for the change they want, then the gap will be filled by pessimists.

    If Theresa May wants the country behind her, then she should set out her full Brexit case, that she wants to pursue with the EU. I don’t buy the argument about not revealing your negotiating position, as too many people will be involved for it not to be leaked. Dominic Grieve made this point recently.

    What you don’t want to happen, is for government to have tried to do a deal in secret, ignored any leaks and then put a deal to Parliament which is not supported. I cannot see any chance of EU countries agreeing a special deal with the UK, without freedom of movement and paying into the single market being involved. Engineering a complicated deal within 2 years and gaining agreement would be a miracle.

  27. SEA CHANGE
    Have you had a chance to read the Government’s submission to the Supreme Court yet? If so have you any comments?

    Unfortunately, the official submission hasn’t appeared on the GOV.UK website as yet, so I had to use what purports to be the official submission via the excellent [but non-official] Full Fact’s Brexit in the Supreme Court, which has a link to the 56 page PDF submission here. If it’s a spoof, it’s a fairly convincing one! OTOH, it’s a “scan” of a document so the actual text is not easily captured or searched.

    In essence, the appeal seems to argue 3 strands:

    1. Parliament should have specified consequences of a referendum leave vote in the 2015 act if it wanted to prevent the royal prerogative being used.

    2. HMG has occasionally got away with changing primary legislation by use of the prerogative in the past.

    3. Because the 1972 European Communities Act automatically changes rights and obligations from time to time as a result of changes in EU law, parliament has allowed these changes to be made under the prerogative.

    Unless I’ve missed something, the essence of the appeal seems to be that HMG did a poor job of drafting the 2015 referendum and other acts which accidentally gives them the power to remove citizens’ rights under the prerogative.

    Personally, I suspect the appeal is unlikely to succeed, if only because of the additional complications the Belfast Agreement will cause to HMG’s case wrt an NI-only referendum to approve the change of status. That issue might only be resolved in the ECJ.

  28. @thoughtful,

    Yep, couldn’t agree more.

    One of the most ludicrous things I heard recently was the discussion of whether the Justic pe secretary could have acted unlawfully and maybe even be taken to court for not defending the 3 high court judges publicly following some of the media criticism they got, I laughed out loud, but perhaps it wasn’t a laughing matter.

    Really, the govt should drop the appeal and push through a quick succinct parliament bill for Brexit. The appeal in my book risks these judges adding more loop holes to jump through. I think the appeal will be lost 11-0.

    Rich

  29. @rich

    The Lord Chancellor has a constitutional duty to defend the independence of the judiciary and swears a specific oath to do so. Presumably a legal challenge would have been based on her failure to fulfil the responsibilities of her office.

  30. R Huckle

    “If Theresa May wants the country behind her, then she should set out her full Brexit case, ”

    Since you don’t agree with her reasons for not doing so I won’t argue that with you except to say that she seems to have over 40% of the polulation behind her government according to the polls, more than enough to provide a increased majority should a GE happen soon.

    I think the only problem that Brexit poses for her is that so far she is being constrained from proceeding. I suspect once she can proceed the voters will be happy to let her get on with it IMO.

  31. @ Old Nat

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article117621153.html

    This happened yesterday. AP made it official.

    I have to tell you that this is nothing short of a political revolution. This district is literally home to the Richard Nixon presidential Library and the site of his burial. It has a Republican voter registration advantage, which should have guaranteed them the seat. Their candidate was heavily favored and massively outraised and outspent her opponent and got outside help from big independent expenditures. And yet. Orange County is the Republican heartland of America. It is the capital of strong Reagan Conservatism. The place that was defiantly red even when the rest of the state voted blue.

    Or it was.

    The large Vietnamese-American community had voted solidly Republican (refugees who resettled after the war) as had the Korean-American community which is traditionally more culturally conservative and where you had small business owners who were more likely to be more conservative. They angrily rejected the GOP in droves. And it didn’t save Asian American Republican politicians from the wrath of the voters of their own community either (the one who is just barely holding on (by 654 votes at last count), County Supervisor Andrew Do, runs on a ballot without party affiliation). There was such absolute disgust.

    The Latino vote spiked and the numbers shift is shocking (Obama won the heavily Mexican American city of Santa Ana 69%-29% 4 years ago, right now, it’s Hillary over Mr. Trump 74%-20% on increased turnout). The high Latino turnout has led some Republicans to make allegations of voter fraud. It’s bs of course but distracts from one of the bigger stories.

    It’s not just the angry rejection of the GOP by their once loyal Asian American voters or increased mobilization in the Latino community that led to this 16% swing. What the GOP should fear most are the results in places that held on and voted for Trump. Places where Trump has 1% or .5% leads in places with 20-30% Republican voter registration edges. A massive number of middle class white Republicans defected. These are not liberal Republicans or even moderate Republicans but these are conservatives. True conservatives. And they defected. This is not just a voter base for the GOP but their donor base.

    Fun fact. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was constructed in Simi Valley and the Richard Nixon Library was constructed in Yorba Linda, both cities well known as ultra right wing bastions and selected as the site of these libraries for that purpose. With this victory, both districts will be represented by liberal Democrats in the State Senate.

    h ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojMwRDbgDs&feature=youtu.be

    This fellow (the one derisively attacked in this horrible and disgusting attack ad, which I can’t help but feel was trying to send me a subliminal message) will be the first Millenial in the State Senate and will represent Simi Valley and thus Reagan’s Library. His easy victory in once safe GOP territory made me smile.

  32. Maybe the Non-Corbyn Labourites and the Lib Dems should get together and unite into their own new party.

  33. RICH @thoughtful
    Really, the govt should drop the appeal and push through a quick succinct parliament bill for Brexit.

    I think it’s too late for that given the additional submissions agreed by the Supreme Court.

    I’m beginning to think it inevitable that the ECJ will eventually have to rule on the constitutionality of A50, and unless the Belfast Agreement is somehow honoured, the RoI government will insist that the EC get an ECJ ruling on it whatever the Supreme Court does.

  34. @ Old Nat

    So now I can’t sleep. I’ve been thinking about the real purpose of this 2/3rds majority. In terms of liberal legislation that I and all the other progressive activists dream of, we probably won’t get it. There are too many business friendly Dems. And Governor Moonbeam has gotten cantankerous in his old age and is much more willing to veto left wing legislation (like getting rid of the tampon tax).

    But, in terms of stopping Mr. Trump from his fascist plans, this could be critical. Because there are all sorts of various laws that can be constitutionally passed to limit the scope of the destruction that they’d like to bring and frustrate the fascist aims of Trump’s forces and create disarray. We can also create additional laws to protect individuals’ rights, critical when he’s got that c*** Kelly Anne Conway threatening to sue anyone who publicly says something mean about Trump and Trump is tweeting at 3 am about his desire to jail people for flag burning. (I’d even be willing to support the passage of a few unconstitutional laws that would force Trump and his forces to spend more time in court just to distract them and deplete their energy and resources from their larger aims such as mass deportations and Muslim registries). For the time being, there will be no one to get in the way.

    Of course, the legislature has to have the will to actually do this.

  35. Thanks for this – yet another fascinating article – informative and balanced.

    At the end of the day all parties have to win an election in unpropitious circumstances – in order to change anything. Labour has either to find a way to win or it will perish and to be honest the same is true of all the parties even the currently advantaged Conservative Party. generally in politics when everything seems set to deliver hegemony for one side – something comes along to up-end all the best laid plans of men and even mice…ultimately all governing parties in democracies meet electoral disaster…some recover themselves and regain power others are destined to die under the knife of Fate’s brutal surgeon.

  36. From another site:-

    New YouGov Scottish poll for Times finds support for independence down to 44% – lower than it was at the Sept 2014 referendum
    TMay sees sharp YouGov ratings drop in Scotland. To the doing job well/badly question she’s moved from net PLUS 13% in Aug to MINUS 5% now
    Net Scottish YouGov well/badly ratings:
    Sturgeon +11%
    Davidson +25%
    Corbyn -35%
    May -5%
    Dugdale -21%
    YouGov: Scots Parliament regional vote. Greens only 3% behind LAB
    SNP 39% -6
    CON 24% +3
    LAB 14% -1
    LD 6% =
    GRN 11% +2

  37. I was wrong about the Supreme Court appeal not being on GOV.UK.

    It’s available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/570778/Supreme_Court_Printed_Case_of_the_Secretary_of_State_for_Exiting_the_European_Union.PDF

    Sadly, it’s HMG who made it a “scanned” PDF and seems to be identical to the one that Full Fact link to [albeit on a different site] so that the text is not easy to capture.

  38. More from the poll which is on the YouGov Site

    Holyrood Voting Intensions
    SNP 48% -6
    CON 25% +3
    LAB 15% -1
    LD 6%
    Other 5%

  39. BARBAZENZERO

    The ‘Lawfare’ issue does not just cover the A50 case, but several others, and there is a concerted campaign to use not only the law but government oversight bodies to attack anyone or anything whose views do not accord with those of the left.

    A current attack is being made on media companies who are right of centre in a campaign which blames them for promoting so called ‘hate’ incidents.

  40. @Thoughtful

    As I have said before ‘hate’ incidents should be blamed primarily on the hate speech coming out of Brussels et al.

  41. Interestingly, by a narrow margin the Scottish voters polled reject the idea of a second referendom on the .EU while remaining strongly in favour of staying in the EU. They also don’t think there will be a second referendum

    Some of the detailed questions provide interesting answers.

  42. THE OTHER HOWARD
    New YouGov Scottish poll

    Thanks for the heads-up. The full tables are now on the YouGov site here. No sign of the YouGov article commenting on it yet, though.

  43. @rich

    “There is something dangerous I feel for the way Sturgeon and the SNP are fighting the Brexit referendum, now submitting legal argument too. I even heard Sturgeon say the UK shouldn’t ignore the 48% who voted remain. But when you are a one issue party, and that issue requires a referendum, which if you eventually win will be narrow, then havnt you already lost a lot of goodwill and political momentum when you have campaigned so vociferously against the legitimate outcome of a previous referendum. lol”

    1. The Scottish Government is arguing that the view of the Scottish electorate in the EU referendum should be respected to the extent that Scotland should remain in the Single Market and that the wishes of the English and Welsh electorate should also be respected if they wish to leave both the EU and the Single Market. So it is arguing that the results of the EU referendum should be respected.

    2. The legal argument which the Lord Advocate has submitted pertains to the relevant Scots law and precedent regarding the Royal Prerogative ( the previous submissions to the English and Welsh Divisional Court obviously only dealt with English and Welsh law) and to the constitutional issues concerning the Scottish Parliament and LCMs.

    3. The SNP has consistently followed a legal and constitutional path to achieving independence so it is hardly dangerous for it to argue that such a path should be followed after the EU referendum.

    4. Having formed the Scottish Government for nearly a decade the SNP cannot factually be described as a one issue party.

    5. The First Minister made clear in her speech to the SNP conference in October that the views of the whole electorate in such debates and decisions need to be respected:

    “So whatever our disagreements, let us always treat each other with respect.

    And let’s work harder to understand each other’s point of view.

    You know, in a strange sort of way, the events of the last few months might help us do just that.

    I know how upset I was on the morning of 24 June as I came to terms with the result of the EU referendum. I felt as if part of my identity was being taken away.

    And I don’t mind admitting that it gave me a new insight into how those who voted No might have felt if 2014 had gone the other way.”

  44. @Thoughtful,

    You imply that the challenges to the government on Art 50 and Art 127 are trivial and designed to waste time; the reality is that they are intended to establish or re-assert key constitutional principles that the government has sought to ignore through its own weakness.

    It’s a crying shame that the Tories didn’t work out what they would do in the event of a ‘Leave’ vote, especially those who so loudly espoused that outcome – they should have done so and their failure to plan for alternatives is another shocking indictment of their claim to competence.

  45. THOUGHTFUL @ BARBAZENZERO

    See BIGFATRON’s response to you, with which I agree 100%.

    Had the EU Referendum Act 2015 been properly drafted and included a detailed plan for the type of Brexit envisaged then all the issues we’re seeing now involved in leaving the EU and changing existing law, then either the case would not have been brought or it would have fallen at the first hurdle.

    If they are not resolved in the Supreme Court then they will be in the ECJ. Is that what you really want to happen?

  46. BARBAZENZERO

    I agree that Cameron’s arrogance at not realising that he could lose the referendum, and therefore I guess the poor drafting has made a fine old mess.

    Still May seems very determined, so no doubt we will leave eventually.

  47. THOUGHTFUL

    PS: I should have added: which media companies are under attack?

    Many media companies seem to have been economical with the truth during the referendum campaign. A pity that Leveson’s proposals were abandoned, which would have provided a legal mechanism for letting off steam.

  48. I believe there are campaigns to boycott companies that advertise in the Sun, Mail and Express.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with any private individual attempting to organise boycotts of companies that offend them – it’s their privilege in a free society. I’ll be surprised if it gets much traction, but if it does it will demonstrate that a significant portion of the population have been genuinely offended, enough to choose to take such action (like the Sun boycott in Liverpool)

    [snip]

  49. R HUCKLE

    @”Unless Politicians provide a positive case for the change they want, then the gap will be filled by pessimists.”

    Oh -I wasn’t suggesting that the country is filled with pessimists-just this place.

  50. @CARFREW

    “@Tancred
    Can see the argument for means testing, but tend towards keeping things universal and clawing back the money from the richer via taxation as it’s efficient and more peeps have some buy-in. Once you means test then admin costs go up and fewer get the benefit so are ok with it being cut.”

    I agree completely. However, though lowering the 40% tax threshold for the over 65s would be an excellent idea, the government would argue that this is a disincentive for people to work longer – which is what the government ultimately wants.

    I think the only feasible solution is to have a flexible retirement age within +/- three years of the official state retirement age. They could then adjust the state pension actuarially, as is done for the civil service pension etc for early retirees. So, for example, for claiming the state pension three years early you would only get 87% of the standard amount etc.

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