At midnight on Monday the Boundary Commissions release revised recommendations for the boundary review. A few notes to aid in understanding what it means.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, they are still pretty unlikely to happen. The Boundary Commissions are obliged by law to continue with the review, it doesn’t mean the government have the support to implement it. When the review produces its final recommendations next September the recommendations need to be approved by Parliament before coming into force. This would have been tricky for the Conservatives to do with a small majority (there were a few Tory MP threatening to rebel), it will be all the harder to do without a majority at all. They cannot currently rely upon the support of the DUP to push them through – the initial recommendations in Northern Ireland were very favourable to Sinn Fein, very unfavourable to the DUP, and the DUP were very critical of them. Of course, it’s possible the revised recommendations may be less offensive to the DUP, but we shall see – in that sense, probably the most interesting recommendations will be those for Ulster.

Two – this is not a new review, it’s a revised version of the one that started in the last Parliament. The current rules for the Boundary Commissions require them to deliver a review every five years, the fact that there has been an early election doesn’t affect this at all. The recommendations published today are based on the ones from last year, taking account of all the comments the Boundary Commissions recieved during their consultation period.

Three – they are still for 600 seats. There were reports in the press that the government were intending to scrap this review and start again with a new review based upon 650 seats. These reports have not been confirmed and at the moment the old 600 seat review is going ahead. Neither the Boundary Commissions or the government have the power to change the rules from 600 to 650 at will; it is set in law. If the government do want to change the rules and go back to a 650 seat review, they’ll need to get primary legislation through Parliament (and then the Boundary Commissions will have to start all over again).

Four – I will, as ever, seek to work out notional figures for what the 2017 election would have been on the proposed boundaries. That will, however, take a couple of days. I can tell you now that the changes will almost certainly favour the Conservatives, at least a little. This is not because the Boundary Commissions are partisan – they are resolutely and genuinely neutral. However, the pattern of population movement in Britain means that boundary reviews almost always favour the Conservatives. Generally speaking, the population in Northern inner cities (that tend to vote Labour) is falling relative to commuter areas in the South (that tend to vote Conservative). Therefore over time the electorate in the northern cities falls, the electorate in the home countries rises and we end up with Northern urban seats having lower electorates than Southern commuter ones. That means when boundary reviews take place, it tends to result in seats in northern cities being abolished and new seats in the south being created.

Fifth – MPs whose seats are “abolished” are not necessarily in any trouble. When boundary recommendations come out the first thing lots of people look for is big name MPs who appear to have lost their seats. It’s normally more complicated that that – parts of their seat will have gone into neighbouring seats and it will often be easily to work out a place for everyone to stand with a few retirements or peerages to help ease the way. While the reduction from 650 to 600 would make this review a little more challenging than usual, in the case of past reviews the vast majority of MPs who have seen their seats “abolished” have actually ended up staying on in a neighbouring seat. In short, Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to struggle to find a Labour seat willing to take him.

1,017 Responses to “Some notes on tomorrow’s Boundary Review recommendations”

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    I expect within the 23% are quite a few LDEM but at a guess 15%+ of the “call it off” are LAB who believe Corbyn is going to do a U-turn at some point and whip his MPs to “call it off”. I doubt those people will be pleased with Corbyn if he doesn’t perform this miracle soon – but that is just IMHO of course!

    Well 23% sounds ‘a lot’ to me. I would have used other wording like ‘most’ or ‘a majority’ for bigger ones. The point is that it is not an insignificant section of public opinion. There was 15% DK as well as the 85% who gave one of those opinions.

    The 23% was made up of:
    8% of Tories (8% of Abandonners)
    41% of Labour (47% – so 11% rather that 15%)
    59% of Lib Dems (11%)
    24% of Others (8%)

    You’re making two common mistakes here. The first is that Corbyn needs to make any sort of definitive decision on this. He’s not in a position to actually decide the outcome and in any case it’s not clear what the options will be. He can point to both these facts as justifying the continuation of ambiguity. There is some pressure from some MPs and the media to declare some sort of support, but since this is mainly coming from those who have opposed him relentlessly, he is under no obligation to placate them and if he did they’d just attack him for something else anyway.

    The second is that it would matter much to Labour voters even if he did commit to a definite policy. All the polling shows that on average Labour voters cared much less about Brexit than Tory voters did. They think it is important, but it is not something that determined how they voted or will in future.

    Actually I suspect Corbyn will be looking to push another finding from the Opinium poll:

    EUR12 To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Brexit is distracting the government from other issues such as the NHS or education

    The public agree by 71% to 9%. Every political and demographic think this, even Leavers (by 60% to 15%) even (just) the tiny sample of UKIP voters.

  2. Trevor

    Thanks for that graph confirming that labour is a left wing party, even if it’s only moderately. It also shows that the conservatives are so far right that they are almost off the scale

  3. New thread

  4. I appreciate that it’s hard to reduce complex concepts to shot questions, but the poll question: “Under the Article 50 process, the UK will cease to be a member of the European Union in March 2019. If, by this time, no satisfactory deal has been agreed, what do you think should happen?” seems to me to be entirely self-contradictory with one of its answers, which is a transition period.

    A transition period requires agreement of the EU27. I call that a deal, unless a meaning is being ascribed to “deal” of which I was previously unaware. Indeed, it requires a deal that is struck during the Article 50 period it. So it’s by definition no longer an option if we get to the end of the Article 50 period and no deal has been agreed.

    It is legitimate to think that a distinction may be drawn between a transitional deal and a permanent deal, and that a scenario may be hypothesised where the former had been agreed but the latter had not. Then you’d have three options. But the question entirely fails to do this.

    Which makes its answers useless.

  5. Trevor W

    There were over 200 nationalisation cases submitted to the EU Commission in the last 18 months. 82% went through with a nod. The rest needed a few rounds, but eventually all went (or going) through.

    Nationalisation does not by any means have a political bias. For example, you can have, under the EU rules, a fully nationalised railway system, as long as the freight transport railway system is not a monopoly (accidentally, Labour doesn’t seem to be bothered by ownership of freight transport on railways, ownership of stations, or the trolley service on the trains, which suggest more of political appeal than a determined socialization programme of the far Left).

  6. Paul Croft,

    Whether they shout from insecurity or strong lungs, it does not making shouting right.

    Whether the aim of shouting is to block uncomfortable truths or drown out opposition, it is not the way to conduct a civilised debate – if for no reason than that excess noise makes it harder to think clearly and dispassionately.

    But then, I would never accuse you of being a shouter. Even though I suspect we have divergent pre-conceptions based on very different upbringings, I have always observed you to be courteous and humorous.

    High regards

    Paul H-J


    Yes, I think a lot of unbiased political analysts would agree that LAB is moderately left, and CON far right.

  8. DAVWEL @ BZ

    It`s not worth listening to the Any Answers responses if you want views on Brexit, since the 30 minutes was largely devoted to the Oxbridge admissions problems and perceived unfairness to applicants from ethnic minorities.

    Thanks for that. You were quite right. I had downloaded both AQ & AA, though, and listened to the first minute or so of AA and deleted it.

    The most definite thing to emerge is the definite no-hard-border in Ireland.

    Let’s hope HMG mean it when the next round of negotiations occur. If they don’t, I really don’t see the DUP sticking with the Cons.


    First, as you suggest, allowing NI to remain in Single Market and Customs Union. Only that really won’t work for the UK unless there is then a “hard” border in the Irish Sea. That is much worse for NI as it not only disrupts more trade, it calls into question NI’s status in U.K.

    An Irish Sea border is the worst possible result for the DUP. There is no chance of their supporting it should it come to a vote.

    The alternative, which is being considered, is for U.K. to simply have no border checks. It would then be up to EU / ROI to decide whether they want to create the disruption of a hard border.

    That would be conceivable in a no deal situation, but would guarantee no trading or co-operation with the EU on anything and could result in our conversion to full WTO membership was blackballed. Again, the DUP will do their utmost to prevent that happening.

  10. Rachel & Tony

    Quite. Perhaps Trevor would like to comment upon how far to the right the Tories are


    The answer is simple; I do not mentally link VE day and the Atlee Government.

    That’s what I feared you would say. You seem to have been happy enough benefitting from the post-war consensus but happy to see it gone in 1979 for a slight reduction in your taxes, with everyone now under 60 “enjoying” a much harder life than we ever did.

  12. @ Paul HJ

    “Whether they shout from insecurity or strong lungs, it does not making shouting right.
    Whether the aim of shouting is to block uncomfortable truths or drown out opposition, it is not the way to conduct a civilised debate – if for no reason than that excess noise makes it harder to think clearly and dispassionately.”


    But of a cheap ad hom, there are plenty of people here who post with the aim of having their views vetted by others and you can see they revise their views accordingly. There are admittedly some who shout “deuce!!’ and don’t even seem to make any effort to follow the discussion they are shouting about though…

  13. RJW @ BZ

    As to HMS Invincible, I always find it ironic that she was the battlecruiser that was employed in the role they were designed for, at the battle of the Falklands in 1914, ie, staying out of range of the enemy ships guns and sinking them, one by one. I have read Jacky Fisher’s handwritten notes from before the Great War, congratulating himself on having delivered the perfect ship, the battlecruiser. They were never meant to mix it with enemy ships with guns as big as theirs.

    Agreed. I think the Admiralty were also somewhat astonished at losing Irresistible, Ocean & the French Bouvet in the Dardanelles plus 3 more badly damaged, which made them overcautious.

    Beatty having a bad day didn’t help.

  14. It`s really too late to reply to Paul, but I have realised for months now that having a customs border in the Irish Sea is a total non-starter. Just as many people will be inconvenienced as by a customs border within Ireland, and the DUP will flatly reject it.

    What TM will have to accept is the Single Market for the whole UK, but possibly with some zones within England where new EU immigrants will be restricted in the jobs they can take on.

  15. COLIN
    “Sooo——you fear that a Tory Government , having spent five years with an overly restrictive immigration policy which caused a lack of doctors will think———–the thing to do to stay in power after the GE …………is not change this immigration policy .
    I think that is an irrational concern Carfrew :-)”

    Well, Colin, on the evidence is it an irrational concern? During the past two Parliaments, the Government, while declaring an intention – indeed a policy commitment – to bring down net migration to tens of thousands, has not brought down the immigration that it does already control, that of non-EU economic and ‘family’ migration and that through student entry.
    The reason for that- one whch lies outside politics and government control – lies in two factors, for which we have good evidence: that of the labour and skills demand of industry and the care and health sectors and universities and their ability to recruit on their own accord; and that of demographic pressure of people from overpopulated and under-developed countries moving with their unneeded skills and labour to the economies of countries that do need them.
    That being the case, your question, does @ Carfew really fear that a Conservative Government would go on with a migration policy that is not working, yes, I believe he really, really does fear so,on good grounds.

  16. Barbazenzero,
    “Beatty having a bad day didn’t help.”

    Beatty didnt have a bad day. He had an average day. It just happened the Germans joined in that day which highlighted what was wrong with his days.

    The problem with the battlecruisers was not that they were used to engage battleships contrary to the design limitations, but that the safeguards which had been built into them and which reasonably would have saved them from destruction on the day, were not used. Ironically, Beatty’s own ship was saved because his crew found a way to work around his ill advised instructions.

  17. DANNY @ BZ

    Beatty didnt have a bad day. He had an average day.

    Fair enough, I’m no expert on the man.

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