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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  1. @Andrew111

    “But the fact is that the Tories are far closer to your personal opinion of Liberalism than the Lib Dems are.. Just calling it Thatcherism would probably solve the problem.”


    This is just hopeless. Clearly I don’t consider the Tories closer than the LDs, e.g. I pointed out the centralising tendencies of both Tories and nuLab.

    Also, it is obvious that calling it Thatcherism doesn’t work either, given it lacked the social Liberalism of Blair or indeed SSM.

  2. @Andrew111

    However a 5th column of Brexiteers within the Tory Party (including, apparently, TOH) will do their best to bring this house down around her ears.

    Theresa May has the advantages of someone living on borrowed time – they have nothing further to lose.

    I agree we will end up with deal that falls short of the demands of arch-Brexiteers. The question TM can ask them is ‘Do you really want to bring me down prematurely and risk a GE?’

    If TM is brought down early to replace her with a hard Brexiteer PM, I think the public at large will respond very badly to it. I can’t see how another GE could be avoided.

    How much do hard Brexit Conservative MPs really think they can beat Corbyn?

    Or put another way “Do you feel lucky punk?”

  3. “And of course Beveridge was pretty typical of the mainstream of British Liberalism since 1906, although of course some other factions broke off and eventually merged with the Tories.”


    Well you’re leaving out the Orange Bookers’ Austerity there of course!!

  4. @Andrew3

    Post immediately above about Orange Bookers’ addressed to you of course!

    My maths is fine thanks, as a successful investor it has to be. If you had posted longer on this website you would know that I have mild dyslexia. If that makes me a figure of fun in your eyes I would suggest that says volumes about you as a person. Since to my mind I have had a very successful life the dyslexia has not been a problem to me, but it does irritate some, your friend Somerjohn for example. I tend to use Word review when writing longer posts, but not always.

    Although I have a high degree of patience as PeteB acknowledged today I’ve reached the point where you are no longer amusing me, since you are just being offensive. As I said in my last post I do not wish to descend to your level so I won’t bother to answer any more, if you carry on in the same vein.

    I appreciate you don’t like my posts so why not ignore them. Your latest post seems to be of the “yah boo sucks” variety. I understand that’s a form of trolling. To be honest I thought you more grown up than that. I’m hoping your just having a bad day.

    Hardliners can be as apoplectic as they like – there are not the numbers in HOC or HOL for a a hard brexit or no deal.
    That is the – very simple – reality, and has been for ages.”

    You may be correct Paul, time will tell but at the moment I continue to think that no deal is the most likely option.


    “ But in the harsh light of day nothing really has changed as yet people are say there is progress but not enough and they see a way forward but that way forward has not changed from the day article 50 was sent”

    We actually agree, hence my view of the likely outcome. I am much more optimistic than most others.

    Thank for explaining I was puzzled, I think perhaps we both understand each other a little better after our dialogue. I did not really think you were calling me anti-Semitic but wanted to be absolutely clear that I’m not.

    I think we well understand each other’s views on the 70s. You make some good points but when I say the 70s were awful they were. I was not attributing any blame or reasons just stating a fact. I agree the 80s were very good for some and very bad for others.

    Many thanks for a very interesting post. If you are correct then Corbyn’s visit to Bernier may well turn out to be a disaster for him (Corbyn) in the long run. I shall watch as events unfold with interest.
    Have a good evening all. The weather forecast for tomorrow is truly dreadful.

  6. @Andrew3

    Also, knowing your issues with posts hanging in the void, given Princess Rach left your LibDem apologia hanging in the breeze, thought I’d help out!

    Regarding LDs, you phrase it as just a U-turn on a few “specific” policies. This is an attempt to make it seem like it’s just a typical party U-turn, as opposed to the fairly chatastrophic capitulation that it was.

    Just the U-turn on Austerity alone was huge, affecting many, many things. Then tuition fees obviously, but even on other things important to LDs, like voting reform, you got the miserable compromise, and even on EU the LDs enabled the referendum leading to Brexit.

    Hence the polling result.


    “Do you feel lucky punk?”

    Great film, enjoyed it several times.

  8. @S Thomas

    “If TM promises to open the coffers if a trade deal is done then poor ROI will be sold down the rive by the EU as was always going to be the case With the EU money rules.”

    Umm, except for the fact that RoI has a veto on any deal.

    Complete tosh, if we are being honest. The EU is so determined to forget the Irish issue that it was out centre stage right at the heart of phase one of the talks.

  9. @ToH

    “I think we well understand each other’s views on the 70s. You make some good points but when I say the 70s were awful they were.”


    Well I didn’t challenge you on that, Howard, although there was sone good music was good in the Seventies. And there were excellent analog synths and they had the Molten Salt reactor at Oakridge etc.

  10. Public Sexctor Deficit.

    April-Sept 2017-18 £ 32.5 bn ( PYTD £35.0 bn )

    Outurn for 2017-18 if Oct-March same as PY :- £43.2bn

    OBR last forecast 2017-18 £58.3 bn

    Possible headroom for PH £15.1 bn


    I loved the 70’s. There was some great music,brilliant sitcoms,glorious summers, wonderful Welsh rugby teams and of course Somerset county cricket club winning the first trophies in their history.
    What’s not to like?

  12. @ MP

    “Somerset county cricket club winning the first trophies in their history”

    Ah, but Essex got there first (just). Great days – I actually had time to watch cricket then.

  13. colin

    We have a new tennis match…..


    Did you mean the Liberal Open

    or the 70s Special Invitation ?


    What a great side Essex had in those days. JK Lever, Keith Pont, John Ackfield, Keith Fletcher, Ray East etc etc.
    Although I have supported Glamorgan most of my life I was a big Somerset supporter in the 70’s. B C Rose, PW Denning, PM Roebuck, IVA Richards, PA Slocombe, IT Botham, VJ Marks, DJS Taylor, CH Dredge, K Jennings, J Garner.

    What a side that was.

  16. @Colin

    “Well it’s better than the misanthropes love in!!”

  17. @ MP

    Indeed. My dad mostly took me to the Sunday games, the names of the typical side in those days is pretty much burnt into my memory. You forgot Gooch. Then there was McEwan and Philip. Sundays at Chelmsford in the summer are a far better memory than Southend Roots Hall every Friday night in the winter. Cold and uninspiring fourth division footie. I was never brave enough to tell my dad I hated it!

  18. THE OTHER HOWARD => BARNY @ 10:47am today

    “On the date issue I got my maths wrong I was born in early 1940 so you can work it out for yourself.”

    THE OTHER HOWARD => Me @ 7:18 pm today

    “My maths is fine thanks, as a successful investor it has to be.”

    Oh dear, I do hope it’s only your own money you’re supposedly investing, if you don’t know when you were born or were able to first vote.

    “If you had posted longer on this website you would know that I have mild dyslexia.”

    “If that makes me a figure of fun in your eyes I would suggest that says volumes about you as a person.”

    Your first point demonstrates the invalidity of your second point, or vice versa, if you prefer. Either way around it represents an inability to progress an assertation logically.

    I cannot possibly be be accused of mocking you for that of which I am, as you clearly acknowledge, unaware.

    ‘your friend Somerjohn for example’

    He is no more my friend than you are, what a strange web you weave yourself.

    “I have a high degree of patience”

    I beg to differ, you are intolerant in the extreme.

    “I’ve reached the point where you are no longer amusing me”

    What a pity! I think you’re a scream.

    “since you are just being offensive”

    Has the penny dropped then? ‘Physician, heal thyself’.

    “I do not wish to descend to your level”

    My dear chap, it is I who have had to stoop to conquer; perhaps you now have an inkling of what trolling is, how unpleasant it is and how irritating it can be. If not, then there is little hope for you.

    Apologies to anyone who has followed this vile little exchange (other than Howard of course), but sometimes a Devil’s Adocate polemic acts as the Third Billy Goat Gruff.

    I still think Howard is a Meat Puppet, but there may be a slim chance he really believes all that guff, Gawd help him (and us).

  19. @Mike Pearce

    Ah, well, when we’ve reviewed the Seventies in the past, people mentioned high interest rates and stuff like that. I don’t think some were keen on the taxes either. It’s usually the Seventies for some reason, don’t often do the fifties or even sixties despite many being around for the latter. Norbold rid his book on the Fifties of course…

  20. Norbold did his book etc.

  21. @Bigfatron

    “Do people really have so little understanding of what a normal income is?”

    Yes, they really do. A very interesting exercise (which was done a few years back by the BBC in a radio series fronted by Danny Finkelstein) was to ask members of the public how much people in various jobs get paid. They almost invariably overestimated other people’s wages – often considerable.

    This has certain unexpected effects. A version of this error is one of the key reasons the student loans system is in such difficulty – expected earnings of graduates are lower than anticipated because it turns out most graduates are not on comparable wages to the social circle of London-based SPADs


    Of course Gooch and McEwan were both big run scorers for Essex but it’s Ray East and JK Lever that I remember so well. Norbert Philip was a decent bowler but not up there with the best. I used to love the old Gillette Cup.

    I also remember the ZB& H zonal stage with Brian Rose declaring the Somerset innings at 1/0 in the first over against Worcs thereby ensuring that even though Worcs would obviously win the game Somerset would qualify for the knock out stages on run rate.

  23. Alec

    we shall see who is right. If the coffers open are the eU going to say that we cannot start trade talks because of the ROI ?

    Isolated, friendless without influence knowing that without the UK in the eU it must cosy uo to Merkel. Is it really going to veto a trade deal and risk a no deal brexit. Best the ROI does what Germany says so or it could go hard with them.

  24. TrevW
    Your 5.41 post is more (wh) iffy than Pepe LePhew!
    But that’s just your style.

  25. @ MP

    True Phillip wasn’t a great, he could hardly compete with Garner and Holding. But perhaps that was the genius of the Essex side in those days – they managed to have a stock of players who were just about test standard, but not quite so good to be off playing for their national side all the time. McEwan didn’t have a national side he could play for, which helped too. And then there there were the two Scots, Denness and Hardie. So not much test duty there either!

  26. @Trigguy

    “Indeed. My dad mostly took me to the Sunday games…”


    Ah, if you go to boarding school you’re away a lot of the time… No Sunday matches for us!! We weren’t even allowed to go to the local coffee shop…


    Poor old Mike Denness. He will forever be remembered for that Ashes series when Lillee and Thomson were at their peak.

  28. Carfrew

    This article is a good starting point, and then you can use the references for the particular issues that you are interested in.

  29. @Londonleaver

    Although my views are pretty much the polar opposite of @TOH, I think your 8:05 pm post to him is well out of order.

    This place is enriched by a broad range of views, and @TOH is very much a gentleman. Some folk do take the fact he has has firm views from certain perspective quite offensively, but they misunderstand him substantially if they are offended.

    Your last paragraph is well out of order and incorrect.

    Most stuff around politics is not black and white, objectively right or wrong, but a subjective view from certain position. The fact is many people out there don’t see the world as you do, and you just have to accept it gracefully.

  30. @Laszlo

    Thanks muchly for the link! I shall peruse it over the weekend…


    There have been a number of posters having a go at ToH in the past day or so. It reflects badly on this site. I hope folks give it a rest. ToH is entitled to his views as are the rest of us. I know he made a comment that seemed to upset some on here yesterday but he certainly wasn’t cut any slack!

  32. @Catman

    Although my views are pretty much the polar opposite of @TOH…


    Don’t you agree on allotments? And interest in cricket? (There’s a vague on Shostakovitch…

  33. mike/cmj

    Quite right: apart from anything else all the criticism – which is both childish and over-the-top – is totally pointless and just extends disagreements.

    Just can’t see the point at all – it comes over as obsessive.

  34. Just caught the end of a question about brexit on the radio. Loud applause for the anti-brexit respondents and very muted response to the pro brexit speaker, It used to be the brexiters who made the noise, So on this site and on this program there seems to have been a marked shift in the morale of the different sides. This does not seem to be accompanied by any shift in the polls and I can’t really see any objective reason why it should happen now, It will be interesting to see if such soft data is the harbinger of more objective change or simply a will o; the wisp.


    Agreed. Pre Referendum it was the Brexiteers who were far more vocal. Remainers were quiet. That’s changing now and Brexiteers can expect us Remainers to be very vocal in the years that follow. This is just the beginning.

  36. Charles
    “Just caught the end of a question about brexit on the radio. Loud applause for the anti-brexit respondents and very muted response to the pro brexit speaker, It used to be the brexiters who made the noise, So on this site and on this program there seems to have been a marked shift in the morale of the different sides. This does not seem to be accompanied by any shift in the polls and I can’t really see any objective reason why it should happen now,…”

    One possibility is that the radio station deliberately stuffs the audience with Remainers.

  37. Good evening all from a stormy Brexit Bournemouth.

    Hello to you.
    Many Liberals also went over to the new Labour Party after 1918, as you know, I think.
    When they asked about the nature of Labour voters they were told that Labour Men were football crowd members.

  38. From the Times a few days ago, something that relates to our discussions on polling and in pa reticular, any differences between young and old.

    You all know the marshmallow test, right? Well it seems the young aren’t just benefiting from the Flynn effect, but they’re doing better with the marshmallow thing too…

    “In a paper published last month, John Protzko, a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara, put together 30 such studies to see if there was a trend over time. The results are counterintuitive and clear: each new cohort of children is getting better at deferring gratification than the previous one. In the 1960s, children were prepared to wait for around three minutes, on average; in the most recent studies, they were waiting on average for seven minutes. In one recent study, a bunch of nine-year-old stoics held out for an average of 27 minutes.

    The growing self-discipline of children wasn’t the only interesting finding. Before compiling the data, the researchers asked 260 psychologists whether they thought children had got better or worse at deferring gratification over the years. Only 16 per cent thought self-control would have improved; 32 per cent thought there would have been no change; 52 per cent of them thought that it would have deteriorated.

    I would have gone with the majority, because, like most of those psychologists, I am middle-aged. There is a consistent belief among our demographic that everything is getting worse — that the world is more violent, people are getting poorer, pollution is intensifying, food is worse and people are unhealthier.”

  39. @Chrislane

    Hello again. Yep, they get about a bit…

  40. Carfrew
    Interesting study. Like you, I would have gone with the majority. However, though it would be nice to think that the ability to defer gratification is an unalloyed good thing (and it may be), there are other possibilities. For instance, today’s youngsters are more timid, more deferential to authority and so on.

    Some of your other points about things getting worse are at least dubious. People getting poorer? In the UK at least I bet there aren’t many households using food banks who don’t have a colour television and at least one smartphone – things that would have seemed magical not very long ago. People are unhealthier? There are of course diseases caused by unhealthy eating, but smoking is on a decline, and things like rickets, polio and many other diseases are very rare if not eradicated. Pollution is intensifying? Is it worse than before the Clean Air Act came in in the 1950s or than before leaded petrol was banned?

    As usual with these things, there are improvements and declines in the same categories, but there is no doubt in my mind that the average person in the UK is far better off in most ways than in the 1950s for instance.

  41. @ Charles @ 9.36 pm

    The shift in morale maybe due to the clearer and more authoritative quantification of the average losses that will be experienced in the UK for the next 10-12 years after Brexit.

    £1000 a year per person is something to get worried about, and it has emerged at a time when average wages are not keeping pace with inflation.

    Also the people changing allegiance may be more vocal than the initial Remainers, although they are just a very small proportion of the electorate yet.

  42. A focus group discussion on Newsnight, very interesting totally inconclusive and contradictory chat about Brexit. God help any poor politician, except for Boris of course.

  43. PeteB
    When BBC aqs came to town a few years ago they were struggling to pack the hall in any meaningful sense, let alone bring in bus loads of tro ts.

    As far as I could see, it relies largely on people who don’t get out much AND whose Idea of a good night out is watching three dull as ditchwater politicians sparring with the token unreconstructed bigot while Mr D tries not to let any of them get a word in edgeways, turning out somewhere a bit out of the way and clapping for the radio while the rest of the world ignores it in favour of alternative entertainment.

    Since this sums me up perfectly, I rather enjoyed it, particularly heckling Ed Davey about flogging off royal mail.

  44. @Pete B

    I should stress that I wasn’t fixing my opinion, but the stuff in quotes was that of Emma Duncan, from the Times article.

    She goes on to agree with you, thus:

    “But for those of us in the West that’s pretty much untrue. Violent crime has plummeted. Our air and water are less polluted and our woodlands are spreading. Thanks to supermarkets, our food is fresher and more various than it has ever been. People are, by most measures, healthier and living longer. Even allowing for the after-effects of the financial crash they are, on average, richer.

    The marshmallow-test paper illustrates a subset of middle-aged pessimism which Protzko calls the Kids These Days effect. He defines it as the “belief that children in the present are substantively different and necessarily worse than children a generation or two ago”, which is, he points out, “specifically incorrect”. Violent crimes are rarer because the kids these days are less likely to commit crimes than kids were a few decades ago. Drink and drug consumption among the young has plummeted (while the middle-aged are still pickling themselves). Millennials are less racist and more tolerant of homosexuality than their elders — and than their elders were when they were young.

    The kids these days are cleverer, too. IQ has risen by about three points a decade over the past century, which may help explain the marshmallow-test trend since high IQ is associated with the ability to defer gratification.

    Yet the Kids These Days effect is remarkably consistent. “I see no hope for the future of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond measure.” Not a leading article in an intemperate newspaper, but Hesiod in Greece, around the time of Homer, nearly three millennia ago. Unless we believe that Greece then was better than the world today — and, given that they kept slaves, were largely illiterate and died at around 40, I don’t — it is impossible for most generations since then to have been worse than the previous ones.”

  45. Fixing/giving

    Nice one.

    Thanks for the reply. Now that I’ve thought about it a bit, while recklessness obviously means taking unreasonable risks, risk-taking as such is a desirable trait at least in a proportion of the population, otherwise there would be no new businesses started for instance.

    Though I hate to raise Brexit when I keep complaining that people on here are obsessed by it, it was older people who were most strongly in favour, and younger ones who were against. Does this mean that youngsters are more risk-averse? And does this tie in with your earlier post about delayed gratification? i.e. are modern children more deferential to authority and thus tend to avoid making decisions that go against what they are told? If so, this is not a good thing (IMO).

    We need a few piratical adventurers in society. The thought of a society of highly intelligent socially-responsible obedient drones appals me. (IMO)

  47. @Pete B

    I should add, that it is common to cite technological and medical advance as meaning things are getting better. Some of the advance means technology becoming more affordable, but of course some is priced out of reach of many.

    The problem comes when other things worsen, like zero hours, lack of career paths, tuition debt, poorer pensions, steep utility bills and can’t buy your own home. Thus instead of how it used to be, people benefiting from technology gains AND becoming more prosperous, it becomes gaining in some areas and losing in others.

    Another issue is that average prosperity might rise because of property gains etc. in the SE but that hides the reality for many.

  48. @Pete B

    Yes, that’s an interesting point about risk taking. One might initially argue that it’s not that they don’t take risks, maybe they give it more consideration first.

    Also, sometimes, to delay IS to take the risk. If you don’t take the marshmallow right away, it might not be there in a few minutes time.

    But yeah, good point, worth thinking about.

  49. Carfrew
    I agree that the rate of increase in prosperity may be reducing overall, but in the UK at least the vast majority are better off than most of the rest of the world.

    We are fifth in the list of median wealth per adult. Of course there are hard-luck cases but the mood of pessimism and how terrible everything is just doesn’t wash.

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