Earlier in the week the Boundary Commissions of England, Scotland and Wales (but not Northern Ireland) published their revised recommendations for the boundary review. This is the next stage of the review that started before the last election – the rules are that the Boundary Commissions need to report every five years, so the early election hasn’t had any impact on the timeable.

The process of a Boundary review is that the Commissions start by working out some provisional recommendations which go out to public consultation. The Commissions then publish revised recommendations taking into account all the comments they’ve received, and there is a period of consultation on those. Finally the Commissions put out final recommendations. We’re now at the revised stage, and the final report will be in September 2018.

At each stage I work out some notional figures* on how the previous election would have looked if fought on the new boundaries. The initial recommendations wouldn’t have made a huge difference to the result of the 2017 election (the Conservatives would still have been just short of an overall majority), but would have made it a little easier for the Conservatives to win. The new revised boundaries are a little more positive for the Conservatives – if the votes cast at the 2017 election had been counted on these new boundaries the Conservatives would have won 307 seats (ten less than currently), Labour would have won 234 seats (twenty-eight fewer than currently), the Liberal Democrats 8 (four less than currently) and the SNP 30 (five less than currently).

More importantly the new boundaries would make it a little easier for the Tories to win, a little harder for Labour to win – albeit, not by very much. The lead in vote share that the Conservatives need to win falls by just under 2 percentage points, the lead that Labour would need to achieve rises by less than a single point.

  • On the the new boundaries the Conservatives would need a lead of 1.6 percentage points to win an overall majority, compared to 2.8 on the initial proposals and 3.4 on current boundaries
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need to be 3.9 points ahead to become the largest party, compared 3.6 on the initial proposals and 0.8 on current boundaries
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need a lead of 8.2 points to win an overall majority, compared to 7.8 points on the initial proposals and 7.4 on current boundaries

The full notional results for each seat are set out here.

As ever, they need a few caveats. The first is that this is based purely on the reallocation of votes from current constituencies to new ones by a formula. It assumes the distribution of party strength within Parliamentary constituencies is in the same sort of proportion as local elections – if that isn’t the case, it will produce slightly odd results. Areas where local elections have a lot of independents are particularly ropey, so notional figures in places like rural Wales and Cornwall should be taken with a pinch of salt. The second caveat is that these figures are based on how the votes in the 2017 election would have translated into seats if counted on the new boundaries. They cannot predict if people might have voted differently on those new boundaries – for that reason, I think notional election results do often understate Lib Dem strength. A ward in a Con-Lab marginal might have voted very differently if it had been part of a Con-Lib marginal in 2017.

Readers will probably have noted that both before and after the review the Conservative party needs a smaller lead to win than the Labour party. This may well seem counter-intuitive: why would a review that is supposed to be about making boundaries fairer apparently skew it further in the direction of a party that already has an advantage? The reason is because partisan skews in the way votes translate into seats is due to several different reasons – differential turnout, malapportionment, vote distribution and the effect of third parties. Malapportionment (seats not having the same sized electorates) does actually favour Labour at the moment – their seats do tend to have a smaller electorate than Conservative held seats, so a review aimed at equalising electorates ends up favouring the Conservatives. However other factors, largely the distribution of the vote, favour the Conservatives, producing that overall skew. To give one easily illustrated example of how this works, think of ultra-safe seats. A party still only gets one MP regardless of whether it wins with 50% of the vote or 80%, those extra votes just go to waste. Labour currently has far more of these ultra-safe seats – the Conservatives won 55 more seats than Labour in 2017, but the Conservatives won only 88 seats with 60+% of the vote, compared to 115 for Labour. Labour has 37 seats where it won with over 70% of the vote, the Conservatives don’t have any at all.

That’s not to say there are not partisan interests at play here. As all regular readers will know, the Coalition government changed the rules in 2011 to make boundary reviews stricter (requiring a strict 5% threshold) and more frequent (every five years in theory) – both changes that will generally make things more favourable to the Conservatives. In practice, of course, it hasn’t made it more frequent at all – it injected extra partisanship into the boundary review and gave Labour and the Liberal Democrats the causus belli to block it. If the coalition government had left the old boundary rules in place then we’d be seeing a review about now.

The review remains contentious and as things stand the government seems unlikely to get it through, and the next general election may very well take place on the same boundaries we’ve got now. There are probably two things that could change that.

The first is if the DUP support it. The provisional boundary recommendations for Northern Ireland were very good for Sinn Fein and very bad for the DUP, who were consequently extremely critical of them. If the revised recommendations are better then the DUP attitude might yet change. The best chance for that might well be if the Boundary Commission of Northern Ireland are persuaded by the submissions they’ve received to return to a plan that is based on splitting Belfast into four seats, rather than three seats in their initial proposals. That said, the DUP were also critical of the reduction from 18 to 17 seats, which will not change. It will still be worth keeping an eye on the revised Northern Ireland recommendations when they appear.

The other alternative would be to scrap the current review and seek a more consensual one. The newspapers earlier this year reported that the government were indeed considering going back to a 650 seat review, rather than the current 600 seat one. Given the rules are set out in law, this would require primary legislation to do so, and may be an opportunity to switch the rules to ones that can win cross-party appeal. In the last Parliament the Labour party backed a private members bill from Pat Glass that would have changed the rules that would have replaced the strict 5% quota with a 10% one made reviews every ten years rather than every five years. Labour also oppose the current review on the grounds that it is based on the 2015 electorate, before the boost in registration at the time of the EU referendum. Starting a new review based on 650 seats would likely involve starting work based on the current electorate, so there might be the possibility of a compromise on the quota and frequency of reviews and having a boundary review that both sides support. On the other hand, such a review would still almost certainly still favour the Conservatives, so Labour may find another reason to oppose. Either way, a review takes three years or so and it would take time to pass legislation changing the law from 600 seats to 650 seats, so the government would still need to move relatively quickly for it happen before the next election.

(*The method is very similar to the one used by Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of Plymouth University for the notional figures the media use. The Boundary Commissions generally use local council wards as the building blocks for seats. General election votes are not counted by ward however, so to work out notional election results I work out notional general election shares for each council ward in the country. To summarise it briefly, it works by taking the local election results in the wards that make up a constituency, comparing the total for each party to that party’s general election result in that seat, working out a ratio for local election vote to general election for each party in each seat, and then using that to create notional general election vote shares for each council ward in the council. Then I put the council wards into their proposed new seats, tally them up, and it provides notional figures.)

UPDATE – Small correction to the seat numbers – the Lib Dems are on 8, the SNP on 30 (not 7 and 31 as I’d previously put)


334 Responses to “Notional figures for the revised boundary recommendations”

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  1. Thanks Anthony.
    Sound of an empty can being kicked down a narrow street in the middle of the night……! ;-)

  2. Well, to kick things off I’ll just comment that it must be a pretty thankless task labouring away in the Boundary Commission. Sisyphus comes to mind…(as classical allusions seem popular here).

    And then, back to our irresistible topic.

    FPT, Carfrew: Regarding the EU collapse, you are not alone in this view. ToH Howard shares it, and I must say it hasn’t received much attention from Remainers, though they complain if he doesn’t address their points!

    Well, I’m not aware of TOH or anyone else calling for comments on this, and one doesn’t like to volunteer unsolicited opinions, but seeing as you (sort of) asked…

    The Leaver case for EU collapse seems to be based on:

    (a) Conflicts of interest between members that will inevitably come to a head
    (b) Weaknesses in the structure of the EU that can only be addressed by further steps towards unity, which would however trigger revolt
    (c) Gross disparities between members in, eg, wage levels, unemployment, prosperity, labour costs etc
    (d) Europe is basically a collection of tribes who have always been at each other’s throats and why should that change?
    (e) Brexit removed the first brick in the wall; others will inevitably follow.

    Have I left anything out?

    The first obvious counter-argument is that the EEC/EU has existed for 60 years and gone from 6 to 28 members without ever showing any signs of collapse. One always-reluctant member upping sticks and leaving doesn’t change that; in fact by demonstrating the consequences of going-it-alone it is likely to strengthen the resolve of the remaining 27 to work together.

    A second point is that the EU is based on law and strict constitutionalism, with a decisive role for a strong, independent, neutral court that can’t be controlled by any member or group of members. It can only move forward towards increased unity with the approval of its members.

    Look, this is turning into too much of an essay. I can wax lyrical for many more paragraphs if anyone wants me to. Just say the word…

  3. “On the the new boundaries the Conservatives would need a lead of 1.6 percentage points to win an overall majority, compared to 2.8 on the initial proposals and 3.4 on current boundaries

    On the new boundaries Labour would need to be 3.9 points ahead to become the largest party, compared 3.6 on the initial proposals and 0.8 on current boundaries

    On the new boundaries Labour would need a lead of 8.2 points to win an overall majority, compared to 7.8 points on the initial proposals and 7.4 on current boundaries”

    ———-

    So Tories will need a lead of 1.6% to get an overall majority, compared to 8.2% for Labour to get an OM.

    That’s at least a little bit wow.

  4. @KEN

    “Carfrew…….A member of our group in California is involved with the development team at Dyson, the level of investment James Dyson is committing to battery and fan technology equals that of Musk, Dyson are celebrating an automotive inventive step and anticipating car production from 2020, yikes, I can’t wait, ( to lose a shed load of cash ) :-)”

    ———-

    Ah yes, one wonders what Dyson is up to, details did not seem to be forthcoming. That said, I wasn’t entirely happy with the bag-less vacuum concept that gets dust everywhere. But again, not a man you’d comfortably bet against.

    I like his idea of fitting filters for those particulates to his electric cars, because even if his cars don’t emit particulates, you’re breathing the air from the other cars.

    That might be something to look at since you’re using hydrogen in conventional engines, if the piston action continues to form particulates!

    I often mention the importance of spin off in safeguarding investments, and Musk does that in spades. For example, he wants to do electric cars, but invests in the other stuff to help out, like batteries, and then finds ways to repurpose the batteries from cars for those power walls.

    Hence regarding hydrogen, what may be critical is investing in infrastructure and other uses of Hydrogen.

  5. @Somerjohn

    True, I haven’t seen Howard press for a counter to his view, but if you leave it hanging then it undermines the counter argument and also pressure on him to answer others’ concerns. So there’s a fairness issue but also an issue regarding making your argument robust. And I’m just interested in what you people might come up with that I wouldn’t have thought of!

    I don’t know if you’ve left anything out, Brexiters might be able to assist further, though something like “weaknesses in the structure of the EU” can cover a multitude of concerns, for example the free movement thing and levels of immigration from outside the EU etc.

    Personally I don’t see a problem in you waxing lyrical about this since it is at least a pretty unexplored aspect of Brexit and quite important, but of course it’s up to Anthony and the board consensus! And thanks for giving it a go!

  6. CARFREW

    True but if Labour make significant gains in Scotland then their overall lead in the polls will not need to be anywhere near as high to gain a majority.

  7. @Mike Pearce

    Oh yeah, I’m not saying it’s insurmountable. I’m just looking at the change.

    Currently Tories need 3.4% for an OM, versus 7.4% for Labour.

    Currently Tories enjoy a 4 point advantage over Labour, which will rise to 6.6 points on the new boundaries.

  8. From previous thread. To clarify – I see LAB moving further to the left as a chance to drag, kicking and screaming perhaps, CON to the centre. I liked Miliband (preferred David to Ed). I thought Brown was pretty good as CoE. I’d have been OK with Owen Smith as a future PM once Brexit negotiations had been completed. My dislike for Corbyn, McDonnell, etc is deep set and long in the making and since they have cleansed the front bench from Remainers I am continually stunned by folks who think Corbyn wants to keep UK in the EU.

    I have no problem with natural monopolies being run by the state in principle, Swiss Rail being an excellent example – my concern, based largely on the 1960-70s experience, is that renationalisation in the UK would come with awkward squad reunisation. Corbyn and McDonnell’s core support comes from this faction and the LAB rule changes all but ensure the ‘CLPD’ control of the party from now on.

    As a ‘centre’ approach May was supposed to push through workers on boards, etc but seems to have lost her way – I hope she gets back on track. Many of CON’s policies have moved to the centre but they seem incapable of selling them to the public. In particular the ‘triple punch to pensioners’ was IMHO the right idea just Mayb0tched in delivery. The ageing population is one of the three major macro economic problems we must face as a country in the coming years and decades. Sadly those policies were Mayb0tched and now off the agenda.

    I’m big thumbs up for national investment bank (the NPIF could simply be expanded and should be when we take back control of our share of EIF). I’ve been impressed by Sajid Javid for some time and he clearly gets the message. I’ve had him down as a future CoE for some time, possibly even PM?!? There are many CON MPs who would like to see the party move to the vacated centre but they tend to have a lower profile as the gutter press on both sides of Brexit shout and denounce the extremist views.

  9. @Carfrew

    OK, I’ll do this in installments because (a) no-one reads long posts and (b) it provides an opportunity for others to say, ‘for god’s sake shut up,” or words to that effect.

    My next point is that the EU’s consensual model has proved remarkably robust. Even those countries cited by brexiters as hard-done-by ‘victims’ (Greece, Portugal) have remained committed to membership.

    Next, as brexit shows, if any country doesn’t like being a member, it’s free to shove off. That removes the biggest usual cause of catastrophic break-ups (cf Yugoslavia; hopefully not Spain). If Hungary or Poland are determined to pursue a fascist course, then they can do so – joining the UK outside the big tent.

    Plenty more where that came from…

  10. A good point from Mike Pearce.

  11. Having just 600 constituencies causes many problems in rural areas.

    The proposed Highland North seat stretches from the west (Skye) to Inverness city and some east-coast communities, and will be a nightmare for its MP and candidates to work due to its size and having so many different types of communities.

    At 12985 sq km it is the largest in the UK, yet it is being imposed on the hardest district to travel around.

    And there`s a double whammy since the next-door proposed seat, Moray & Nairn, has the largest population.

    But the Tories will be happy with their on-the-quiet gerrymandering – 600 seats is the number that gives them the greatest advantage over Labour.

    Rather than giving more power to a Tory government (fewer back-bench Tories also benefits them), the government should be trying to cut back the size of the House of Lords.

  12. @Somerjohn

    OK, I’ll do this in installments…

    -____

    That’s fine, lets others chip in too if they want. I’ve thought of one, the pressure to join forces to compete economically and poltically with other large economies and trading blocks e.g, Nafta, China, India etc.

    Which is likely to intensify. That said, of course outside the EU we might join another large trading block. We do like these things. In the days of Empire we liked them so much we fashioned our own…

  13. @Carfrew

    Yup, you’ve beaten me to it.

    “United we stand, divided we fall” is a powerful message, to which others in Europe seem more attuned than we are. Unless you are the size of China or the USA, you really need to work together with others unless you want to be the big guys’ poodle.

    Another point: while we may not care, or even be sublimely unaware of it, the peace-not-war , cooperation-beats-confrontation philosophy underpinning the EU is extremely powerful in countries that experienced the reality of defeat, occupation and national humiliation. That’s pretty well everyone else in Europe.

  14. The Czech Republic, Election result follows a familiar trend.

    Juncker will no doubt telling us what he thinks soon-as he did after the Austrian result.

    The Italian Election is the next to give him potential nightmares-and Lombardy & Veneto joining the clamour for regional autonomy won’t help either.

    The glue is definitely ageing .

  15. Somerjohn

    “catastrophic break-ups (cf Yugoslavia; hopefully not Spain). ”

    I presume that you mean that a democratic decision by one or more peoples within the kingdom of Spain to become independent states would not be catastrophic, but that resistance to democracy by Spanish Nats might provoke a catastrophe, if the Spanish Nats follow the Serbian example?

  16. Somerjohn

    “experienced the reality of defeat, occupation and national humiliation. That’s pretty well everyone else in Europe.”

    Other than “occupation” the other realities have frequently applied to the UK as well – and the far right press seem to be determined that Brits have been “occupied” by immigrants.

  17. Pressure from 5 national leading business lobby groups on the Government to get a transitional deal in place quickly :

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/22/uk-business-chiefs-unite-urgent-brexit-transition-deal-david-davis

  18. paul hj

    THANKYOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Apologies if this duplicates a similar message in moderation.

    Having just 600 constituencies causes many problems in rural areas.

    The proposed Highland North seat stretches from the west (Skye) to Inverness city and some east-coast communities, and will be a nightmare for its MP and candidates to work.

    At 12985 sq km it is the largest in the UK, yet it is being imposed on probably the hardest district to travel around.

    And there`s a double whammy since the next-door proposed seat, Moray & Nairn, has the largest population. It doesn`t seem democratic.

    But the Tories will be happy with their on-the-quiet gerrymandering – 600 seats seems to be the number that gives them the greatest advantage over Labour.

    Rather than giving more power to a Tory government (fewer back-bench Tories also benefits them), the government should be trying to cut back the size of the House of Lords.

  20. It occurred to me that the history of the holy roman empire might be relevant to the survival of the EU. A quick look at Wikipedia revealed that this did indeed last for around 1000 years but not much about how real its existence was at different points or what it did, Somebody, I dimly remember said of it that it was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire, So is the lesson that Europeans like to construct grandiose fantasies or alternatively that they craft subtle and amazingly durable institutions? Or can’t we really learn anything from HRE?

  21. Leave EU and some politicians such as John Redwood have been arguing that after Brexit relying on WTO rules would be perfectly acceptable and, somewhat ingenously, have even said that this countries such as Australia and Canada.

    This blog reports research to discover which countries rely solely on WTO terms:

    https://medium.com/@MrWeeble/who-actually-trades-solely-under-wto-rules-1b6127ce33c6

    The answer seems to be Mauretania.

  22. Excellent work. A couple of observations:
    – In the covering note you say the Conservatives would still be short of a majority. However, 307 seats out of 600 is a small majority.
    – In the results list the winner of Orkney & Shetland is listed as SNP rather than LD.

  23. hireton

    Right-o. Let’s do a deal with them then.

  24. @Somerjohn

    A point against occurs, the rise of fake news etc. by those who might not wish EU to succeed.

  25. Somerjohn (6:12 pm)

    “Have I left anything out?”

    f) The prospect of some countries becoming net contributors to the budget for the first time, or receiving much smaller handouts.

  26. CARFREW….We are working, at a distance, at their behest but also their blessing, with Mercedes Nanoslide technology, it’s no secret but there are some development, “ issues “. We are certainly examining friction and particulate relationship, we’re still lumbered with, ‘ no friction, no action ‘, ain’t life grand. :-)

  27. On the boundary review, I think this government is too weak to get it through if the Opposition oppose, which they presumably will.

  28. @Ken

    Yes, you mentioned the Mercedes thing before which had me Googling away… I was indeed wondering whether the nano slide thing might reduce particulates. But then that’s why I suggested the other route, filters. Presumably Dyson’s filters filter air coming into the cabin, but if you can filter the exhaust…

  29. Ther is also the possibility the EU dissolves and is subsumed into…

    …a One World Government!!

  30. Just an passim

    The Yugoslavian breakup became so ugly partly because of the non-agreement on the foreign debt (it was terribly important), the redrawn borders by Tito, and the massive differences in economic development (Slovenia’s per capita GDP was triple of the Yugoslavian). It was also the first outing of Germany into foreign policy since WW2. They recognised Slovenia’s independence right away, and provided “technical assistance”.

    The breakup would have been unpalatable, but not so ugly. Bosnia and Kosovo are different (and also different from each other)..

  31. @Carfrew and Ken

    Re particulates, it’s interesting that as exhaust emissions come down, brakes and tyres become an increasingly significant source of PM: I’ve seen figures as high as 50% mentioned. Which of course brings electric and hysdrogen cars into the frame…

    Also, it seems that much of the high PM readings near major roads is due to traffic stirring up dust from the road surface.

    It’s all a lot more complicated than the simplistic “diesel kills’ stuff would have you believe. For instance, levels of PM are apparently around 8x higher in tube stations than in Marylebone Rd. And people on average spend 92% of their time indoors, where there is an entirely different and largely ignored set of pollutants (photocopiers, toasters, air fresheners, Dyson vacumm cleaners…)

    Just sayin’…

    Oh, yes, one other thing. Last time I looked, hydrogen-fuelled IC engines either had to use compressed gaseous hydrogen (one tankful= a few pints of petrol), or use a hydrogen absorbing and releasing compound (I’ve forgotten the chemistry) that was pretty problematic. Am I out of date?

  32. CARFREW…..We are in a quandary, for no other reason than we are human, we are committed to ICE mechanics, it’s lovely to watch in section, but of course we want hydrogen drive, I break out in a sweat when I rationalise it, at least, bigger intellects than mine are sold on direct feed hydrogen. I do have a stop loss but we’re nowhere near it yet and of course, as a banker, I also have an exit route which I keep active, my nightmare is the intrusion of some bloody inventor, step forward ? James Dyson ?
    My other concern, of course, is, ‘prevention is better than cure’ as a starting principal. :-)

  33. Carfrew

    “Ther is also the possibility the EU dissolves and is subsumed into……a One World Government!!”

    For some purposes, the UN already provides that. It’s not an alternative to subsidiarity – effective governance is provided as close to the people as possible.

    Governance should be (and partially is) multi-layered. A Federal or Confederal Government doesn’t take all the powers that are properly exercised by other levels of government (unless it is an excessively centralist nationalist one, like Spain or Serbia).

    Unless, of course, you are suggesting that a “World Government” would be the body responsible for filling in that pothole in that road near you, or setting storage taxes in England, Nambibia and …

  34. @Somerjohn

    Yes, agreed, the engines are not the only source of particulates. From Ken’s point of view, to some extent that’s someone else’s problem, he just has to make his engine competitive with other engines. Although of course if he finds a solution for brakes and tires too…

    I am still getting up to speed with the Hydrogen thing, so I’m not sure how much a tank of compressed hydrogen holds. Something else to look into.

    Must say, part of my interest in Hydrogen is not for cars, but for energy storage. Use spare renewable energy to electrolyse water and then oxidise it again later to get energy back in times of peak demand. Which bypasses brake and tyre concerns of course.

    Also there’s the potential airline use, which also may not involve many particulates, although depends if they can store enough gas. Then there’s fleet vehicles, big ones, lorries, buses etc. that might have the room to store more compressed gas.

  35. Oldnat: I presume that you mean that a democratic decision by one or more peoples within the kingdom of Spain to become independent states would not be catastrophic, but that resistance to democracy by Spanish Nats might provoke a catastrophe, if the Spanish Nats follow the Serbian example?

    No, simpler than that. Regardless of blame, I just hope that the Cataluña impasse is peacefully resolved.

    Actually, I find it hard to decide my position here. I support the right to self determination in principle, and have no trouble accepting that in the case of Scotland. Ditto re Cataluña, except that I’m uneasy about the apparent exclusivity of Catalan nationalism. For instance, I think I read that, in contrast to Scotland, non-Catalan residents were not allowed to vote in the referendum. And that the apparently very significant body of non-separatist opinion has not been reflected in voting figures or the political protest.

    I’m saying this stuff pretty hesitantly as I don’t feel I know enough to judge. But I don’t think it’s as black-and-white as Catalan heroes vs Spanish fascists (tempting though that narrative may be to some, and apparently odious as Rajoy and the PP may be).

  36. OldNat
    The deputy leader of our local unitary authority has been known to fill in potholes himself. First North Somerset Council. Next the World!

  37. @oldnat

    “Unless, of course, you are suggesting that a “World Government” would be the body responsible for filling in that pothole in that road near you, or setting storage taxes in England, Nambibia and …”

    ——

    Of course I’m not suggesting that. You could still have local councils under a one world government. You might even have the EU. But they might not bother with the EU.

    All that said, if a One World government did a better job of fixing potholes one wouldn’t necessarily complain…

  38. @Ken

    Well batteries have their own issues. Toxic chemicals, energy required to make them, range, charge time, tendency to deteriorate, weight and space required, and then there is the requirement not just to power cars but store renewable energy etc…

    Musk estimates they’re going to need at least a hundred gigafactories, so there may well be room for Hydrogen too…

  39. SOMERJOHN / CARFREW…..We are piloting ICE / direct hydrogen feed in remote locations, ( mining / quarrying ) using solar tech to enable extraction of hydrogen, the processing of hydrogen to viable quantities driving conventional systems is of course the major challenge, our on-going reality audits support our efforts thus far, as do our equity partners, both industrial behemoths.

  40. Ken: our on-going reality audits support our efforts thus far

    Well, jolly good, glad to hear that.

    So how are you storing the hydrogen as a vehicle fuel?

  41. @Ken

    Piloting the tech via mining as a way of avoiding some trickier aspects initially and getting some revenue sounds cool. I’m rather Impressed to be honest. Again, it’s kinda the way Musk would do things. His goal is to colonise Mars, but intially by building a rocket for Earth orbit missions that also happens to be capable of Mars missions too.

  42. SOMERJOHN……Try to resist the temptation to be facetious, as to your enquiry vis our hydrogen storage research, we have a budget, we are spending it. ;-)

  43. CARFREW…..To put our operation in context, in scale, our efforts are more MarsBar than Mars mission . :-)

  44. David Boothroyd on the VoteUK forum has pointed out that Orkney and Shetland is down on the spreadsheet as an SNP seat when it should be a LD one.

  45. I wonder if I have missed something about the EU that happened when I wasn’t around – that it started governing anyone or anything. Regulating, adjudicating, legislating even, yes,but governing, I haven’t come across it.
    So, ideas of unity except around specific programmes institutions and objectives, as a necessary condition of the relationships between the member countries, I find odd.
    Governing is also not the same as bullying. The relationship of the EU or any of its institutions or member states to Greece, for example, is only the same as that of the IMF to Ghana,. That it happens within the EU does not mean that if Greece tells it to go whistle, it is doing anything other than say “go whistle”, to coin a phrase a breach of contract, essentially a civil tort.
    Equally it is spurious to suggest that Hungary cannot continue to be given all the respect and cooperation of any state (Laszlo?) just because it does not like Turks and refuses, in consequence to take in Islamic migrants. Or that Turkey cannot be allowed to become a member because it is populated by Turks.
    What matters is that the EU and its agencies, with the sanction of its Parliament and ;Council of Ministers,, and funding from its member states, reforms its more idiotic constructs, and acts competently and scientifically wherever it can to take on tasks which individual member states cannot, such as creating the institutions and agreements for the management of migration and external borders for that purpose. Or creating conditions of security within which common trading arrangements and scientific and educational cooperation can be carried on and peace maintained. It can do that while leaving sovereignty to be conducted, in relality or mythically, by individual member countries.

  46. KEN (FPT)

    My view, for what it’s worth, ( and to the self-admiring metropolitan elite, that ain’t much ) is that the EU will gradually collapse from being a large group of mainly small bickering entities, into, a small group of mainly large bickering entities….

    Ken you’re a wealthy banker who lives in Central London. You’re pretty much the definition of metropolitan elite. Just because you live slightly south of the river, it doesn’t suddenly turn you into an unemployed steel worker from Sunderland. :)

    I think you’re wrong about the EU as well. Public opinion in the smaller states tends to be even more pro-EU than elsewhere and support has gone up considerably since the Brexit result. The highest anti-EU figure I have seen is Greece and that’s only about a third. Paradoxically many in the smaller states see the EU as a possible counterbalance to national corruption or incompetence.

    So you may get a sizeable proportion of their populations wanting more European integration. They want a nice dose of that German efficiency or Scandinavian integrity. They want the ECJ setting down standards rather than their own dodgy judges. Of course their own metropolitan elites are not at all keen on more centrally-based standards of accountability and openness (but please keep sending the subsidies).

    Whether the EU has always lived up to these hopes is another matter. Far too often (as with Greece) they have enabled the feral elites rather than restrained them and then expected the ordinary people to clear up the mess they turned a blind eye to. Sometimes pressure has been usefully applied (as recently in Poland). But the EU is still seen as a force for good on the whole – or at least better than nothing.

  47. Roger Mexico

    “Public opinion in the smaller states tends to be even more pro-EU than elsewhere and support has gone up considerably since the Brexit result”

    There is an interesting thing in Hungarian polls.

    When people are asked about the EU, a very small proportion identified it as a threat. When asked about Brussels, then about a third consider it as a mortal threat to Hungary (it is because of the government propaganda of “Let’s stop Brussels” and the Jewish conspiracy of Brussels (Soros, who controls the entire Commission) against Hungary). In a small town, full of boards of “Co-financed by the EU, there was a demonstration against “Brussels”.

    On the other hand, the liberal elite cannot turn away from the EU, even though the EU investigators of fraud rubberstamped the most obvious plundering of EU funding (the light railway that now leads to the prime minister’s birthplace and about a few hundred people managed to use it, or the 24 game watching towers in a village where nobody has seen a game watcher, partly because there are no game there, apart from a few pairs of doves).

  48. @John Pilgrim
    “I wonder if I have missed something about the EU that happened when I wasn’t around – that it started governing anyone or anything. Regulating, adjudicating, legislating even, yes,but governing, I haven’t come across it.”

    The EU effectively imposed interim unelected governments on both Greece and Italy at recent moments of crisis. I suppose they were nominally appointed by their presidents, but they had their arms twisted by the EU. Consider how it would play in this country if the Queen imposed an unelected government.

    G’night all.

  49. @KEN

    “CARFREW…..To put our operation in context, in scale, our efforts are more MarsBar than Mars mission . :-)”

    ——–

    Lol Ken, I was just noting a similarity in approach, if not in scale (just yet!!…)

  50. Pete B

    You could argue that in the cases of Greece, Italy, Catalonia etc has been acting in the interests of the majority of member states. Just like you could argue that that using the proceeds of Scottish oil to finance the deindustrialisation of the north of England was in the best interests of the majority

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