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 suspect the answer frm most of the farming community would be, “can’t be done without big tariffs/small quotas on imports. And where will we find the workers?”
    “Your suggested model would surely lead to much higher prices for consumers. Moreover, it’s directly contrary to the “global trader” model of our post-Brexit future….
    Put more bluntly, back to the future isn’t going to work.’

    I was pleased to get your and @ DANNY’s responses – as you say, to my thinly disguised repeat post.

    My argument went back to previous discussions about Thatcher’s ending of local meat and veterinary inspection (remember horsemeat hamburgers?), which up to 1992 also permitted local slaughterhouses supporting specialist local beef breed small herd meat marketing, short distance livestock transportation and a high level of concern for animal welfare, including that of deer, which in Devon and Somerset distinguishes hill farming on Dartmoor, the Mendips and Quantocks. This exists alongside the 300 head beef and dairy farms which with large-scale hill sheep farming and specialist cheese making make up the regional livestock industry.
    I was not arguing for small farmer agriculture as such but for this traditional mix of large and small farms, both determined by locally developeds post-harvest and marketing system. The small farm element in this, which particularly distinguished hill farming,, specialist breed production and some forms of local horticulture, have been threatened, as in the case of the Devon breeds, by inappropriate UK government intervention and regulation in favour, for example, of large scale livestock marketing to the EU.
    NFU and AHDB have been too ready to acquiesce with EC regulations designed primarily with a view to uniform trading conditions throughout Europe, and not to supporting the scientific, diverse and locally specialised basis of UK farming and horticulture.

  2. Well now, Haiku is traditionally meant to be based on 5/7/5 structure with a kiru and a temporal or seasonal reference [according to Wiki – I mean, what do i knoe?].

    Here’s my attempt at a traditional Hakui, this one for Brexiters:

    As we leave, I fret
    Is it crashing, or drifting?
    Where to aim my rage?

  3. @John Pilgrim – I live pretty much surrounded by hill sheep farmers. It’s fair to say the majority of them voted to leave, on the basis that they;ve spent the last forty years blaming almost everything on the EU (and anything left over on tourists).

    It’s also fair to say that there is a great deal of concern now as they are beginning to realise what is likely to happen in the new world of free trade and flexible subsidies.

    Not all were anti EU, but there is considerable fear now in this particular sector.

  4. @ DANNY – CON have a JC – James Cleverly.

    @ BARNY – I hope you are right. I had thought the talk of 100bn was so that 60-70bn could be ‘spun’ as a ‘good deal’ although lack of decent spin master is a problem!

    I still have mild optimism in DD offering a formula approach that comes out at 60-70bn over phased payments but it has to be conditional on an amicable final deal being agreed before transition starts – otherwise we only pay our legal requirement to end of 2020 budget and see them in court for the settlement of RAL and the oft forgotten asset side.

    Once the difficult part of negotiations are over a final deal based on Swiss+ or Canada+ ‘principles’ should be relatively easy given we’re currently in perfect regulatory alignment with EU and could agree to shadow relevant regulations as the Swiss and Canadians have to. Even Clegg would be happy with ‘reintegrating at the appropriate (concentric circle) level’

    The problem won’t be selling that deal to the public IMHO, it will be selling it to the CON back bench! I think whatever happens up to an including the Dec EU Council meeting probably has to result in a GE and/or new ref at some point in 2018 but IMHO CON’s only hope is to have a deal on the table when that time comes. LAB’s ‘bluff’ on Brexit needs to be called at some point and rather sooner than later IMHO.

  5. john pilgrim,
    Not wishing to harp on a big bugbear of mine and this would not apply across all the country, but where I live in the south one of the biggest problems for small farmers must be property prices. Small farming is as much a vocation as a job and people will do it for small returns. But the sheer capital cost of a farmhouse is enough to make it totally impossible. The opportunity cost of having a finance industry is it has priced out farmers. So maybe a property crash would help.

  6. ALEC
    “As we leave, I fret
    Is it crashing, or drifting?
    Where to aim my rage?”

    Or perhaps:

    Autumn wind brings change
    The dry leaves fall and swirl
    Which way to safely pee?

  7. DANNY
    Or a rural affordable housing programme.

  8. Alec

    A friend of mine [Gilbert Biberian] who is a classical guitarist and contemporary composer wrote some beautiful pieces for guitar and spoken haiku.

    As the performer, you had complete freedom to play and/or recite in any combination or sequence.

  9. @ ALEC – You seem to be missing the seasonal link. If i’ve understand the ‘rules’ correctly how about:

    Brexit Dec-Day near
    Will we Fall or rise?
    Blame JC Juncker?

    or for those that think all ‘Leave’ voters are the same then perhaps:

    Free trade conkers all
    EU super state non!
    Minford for PM!

  10. The light comes too soon.
    I mount my horse and head West.
    Love still lingers on.

    [Blimey !! This is dead easy!!!]

    A wise man once said
    “Football’s a funny ole game”
    Yet it made me cry.

  11. Icy winds of change
    May brings Exit from Brexit;
    Cable Vince with news

  12. Trevor,

    Is conker your seasonal reference? Not bad!

  13. John Pilgrim,
    “Or a rural affordable housing programme.”

    I hate affordable housing programs. This is always a euphemism for cheap construction and small. Sure you can have a house half as expensive if it is half as big.

  14. “Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. You shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare any more.”

    Trump managing to say the same thing [albeit incorrect] six times in a single sentence.

    Sad !!


    Apparently Trump has been likened to Mussolini by a European leader. That amused me.

  16. Carfrew,

    You spend a lot of time defining “Liberalism”. For example you define George Osborne as one.

    But your definition of Liberalism has only the vaguest relationship to the Lib Dems, so please stop equating them or I will waste all my time calling Corbyn a communist..

    There are a few Lib Dems who would be close to Osborne on economic theory, and briefly they became influential in the Party, but only briefly, and not now.

  17. And Carfrew if you want to know what the Lib Dems believe in you should read the preamble to the Lib Dem Constitution and you will find it has little to do with your narrow definition of Liberalism…

  18. This HAIKU lark looks fun.

    I found this-from the 17c master Cable:-

    Juncker says now pay

    Britain , in Spring, turns away

    To EU again.

  19. Paul Croft

    “Trump managing to say the same thing [albeit incorrect] six times in a single sentence.”

    A mere six? No match for Michael Palin then.

  20. “And Carfrew if you want to know what the Lib Dems believe in…”


    God, thanks for setting an impossible challenge when I’m trying to enjoy my Merlot….

  21. Or do I mean John Cleese?

  22. Barnier says clocks

    Are ticking all through Europe

    Stop all the clocks please

  23. Summer winds beguile
    But now Ophelia brings
    A bitter Brexit

  24. Next level is posting only in sonnets:

    “There are fourteen lines in a Shakespearean sonnet. The first twelve lines are divided into three quatrains with four lines each. In the three quatrains the poet establishes a theme or problem and then resolves it in the final two lines, called the couplet. The rhyme scheme of the quatrains is abab cdcd efef”

  25. b and b

    Can’t we do it in easy stages – say, via limericks?

  26. Don’t EU cry for me
    As we approach our parting
    Cold winds blow outside

  27. @ Alec 8.09 pm and previous agric commentators

    It`s interesting that these North Pennine sheep farms were so hostile to the EU, and didn`t seem to understand that on leaving they could lose so much.

    I think the Scottish upland farmers were much less hostile, but then the variety of CAP we had was more favourable to all across the farm size range.

    The problem of this CAP was probably its greater complexities and the difficulties of devising computer payment programmes to cope with this. Also maybe the general public-sector malaise of too few and too badly-paid staff has hindered payments. So they have gone out months and years late, causing big problems and much anger directed at SNP ministers. .

    Danny`s problem of the houses of small farms commanding high prices and being turned into luxury homes applies too in Scotland, even up into the crofting townships.

    And our upland farmers are bearing attack from another group, those wanting re-foresting or wilderness. These sentiments go back a long time to well-intentioned but scientifically illiterate folk particularly Fraser Darling.

    Sheep were called maggots, and considered to be degrading our ecosystems. Sometimes this has been true, with overgrazing. But now we have gone to the other extreme, witness a Channel 4 doc last Saturday with Tony Robinson walking Dere Street and drooling about sheep being cleared off, and native trees planted.

    It`s a recipe for a loss in biodiversity, landscape views, and negligible returns for any owners. But there will be pressure on the Scottish Government to subsidise this..

  28. There once was a PM called May
    Who went to polls one day
    She always maintained
    That “Nothing has Changed!”
    But her majority had all gone away

  29. Limmericks you say…..

    The MP for Uxbridge and Ruislip
    From his mouth would oft let a lie slip
    From bent cucumbers
    To the side of a bus
    Untruths just poured over this guy’s lip

  30. Brexit illusions
    Logic and fact intervene
    Same old illusions

  31. Don’t forget Carol Ann Duffy’s work of genius, “Campaign”:

    In which her body was a question-mark
    querying her lies; her mouth a ballot-box that bit the hand that fed. Her eyes? They swivelled for a jackpot win. Her heart was a stolen purse;
    her rhetoric an empty vicarage, the windows smashed.
    Then her feet grew sharp stilettos, awkward.
    Then she had balls, believe it.
    When she woke,
    her nose was bloody, difficult.
    The furious young
    ran towards her through the fields of wheat.

  32. From high above, from that perspective,
    The country still looks united
    The successors of passed reactionaries
    Are patching up the dissolving seams.

  33. Carfrew

    “How can your three year degree Cover as much as our five year degree, they exclaimed.

    Because we specialise earlier, actually.”

    That “we” is not characteristic of the whole UK, of course.

    It seems rather obvious that early specialisation (the English model) allows greater linear expansion of knowledge/skills within a (potentially) very narrow field.

    Whether the products of such early specialisation are as competent at reaching out to the research from other specialisms, as those who have had a wider education is another matter.

    Maybe there has been research which has explored the issue, though I don’t know of it.

    Do you have any evidence to support the idea that early (rather than later) specialism is “better” or “as good” – or are you just making an assumption that the English model is just as good as others?

    It may be, for all I know, but most other OECD countries don’t seem to have accepted it as the best model for their needs, so “it’s what we’ve always done in England” may not be the best argument.

  34. Alec

    “Hard to understand quite what has become of my beloved country.”

    Ah! So you reveal that you are in fact a “Nationalist”!

    Nothing wrong with that – as long as you don’t want your “beloved” to be a dominatrix!

    Scotland, GB, UK and EU are the polities that I live in. Can’t say that any of them are “beloved” – but then I’ve never really understood that mode of thought in you “Ultra Nats”.

  35. Tweet from BBC Wales “For the first time, Farmers’ Union of Wales has explicitly called for UK to remain in single market and customs union after Brexit.”

  36. Tony Blair is making himself popular with left;es again. Saying that Bernie is as bad as trump.

  37. As there seems to be a poetry competition, here is my entry.

    Is Brexit what we thought
    talk of a future thats sunny
    with Westminster not being bought
    the UK would have plenty of money

    Now Davis and Mayvis sit nervously
    at a table with Barney and Junkey
    listening to talks of exit money
    they laugh thinking you cheeky monkey

    There was a silence as the waiter appeared
    with a bill on a plate for an awkward meal
    Davis and Mayvis said toilet as they disappeared
    Barney and Junkey were left with no deal

    With talk of deadlock in Brussels
    there was excitement and fear in the air
    people flexing their voice muscles
    were asking what what would be fair

    Davis and Mayvis said we only had soup
    It was Barney and Junkey that drank fine wine
    stop complaining or plotting a coup
    From Brexit day you will only see sunshine

  38. This appeared just after the election when the deal was being done with the DUP:

    (Tune: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?)

    Who wants to be Theresa May?
    I don’t!
    Cosying with the anti-gay?
    I don’t!
    Who wants to push on with the Brexiting farce?
    The Brexiting farce? Do I want? My arse!
    Who wants the Saudis as your friends?
    I don’t!
    Starting a war that never ends?
    I don’t!
    Who wants a private NHS too?
    I don’t!
    And I don’t, cos all I want’s EU!

    (By Jamie Findlay and Nicole Bates)

  39. Brilliant funny video on UK’s Brexit as viewed from Germany.

    A must watch. You will laugh, even if you support Brexit.

  40. The houses are haunted
    By white night-gowns.
    None are green,
    Or purple with green rings,
    Or green with yellow rings,
    Or yellow with blue rings.
    None of them are strange,
    With socks of lace
    And beaded ceintures.
    People are not going
    To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
    Only, here and there, an old sailor,
    Drunk and asleep in his boots,
    Catches Tigers
    In red weather.

    Wallace Stevens

  41. Farmer’s dismay and panic upon realising the realities of leave is amusing. Particularly to me, as a remainer, who has recently emigrated. I’m enjoying seeing them ‘reap the seeds they sowed’.

    This week a leaver acquaintance of mine commented how many Turks had moved into the north west town in which he lives. Barber shops and kebab shops opening everywhere he opined. He then asked if Turkey were in the EU and when I gave him the answer he couldn’t understand how they could move to Britain at all. Bless him for having such faith in the government and the leave campaign! He will be sorely disappointed.

    I wonder why nobody is considering legal action at whoever allowed a complicated and serious issue like this to be decided by a referendum in which both sides mislead the public.

  42. ON,

    Agree and now it is worse in England (sorry not sure if Wales the same).

    My older 2 kids now at Uni could do 4 AS levels and drop one for the final year thus ‘specialising’ in 3 to A level but getting an AS the subject they dropped for their efforts.

    Mr Gove has narrowed down to 3 A levels only in effect for my youngest son to decide on before starting 6th form, going back to when I did them 35 years ago.

    It is not just the qualification is it is making it hard (impossible) for say those thinking at 16 that they want a career in science which realistic requires uninterrupted study to also take a 4th humanities option to partially keep open alternative avenues but perhaps more importantly to help them develop in a more rounded fashion.

    My albeit limited anecdotal experience is that degree entry students who have been to Scottish schools and done 5 highers (I think) did not struggle to make up the knowledge gap they may have had in specialist subjects having done in a bit less depth at 6th form.

  43. @ JIM JAM

    Worth checking out other options. If there is a college in your area, they sometimes run single A level courses on subjects. So you can study the 3 subjects in 6th form and another subject at a college.

    I am guessing a 4th subject at the school is not possible due to teacher/timetable/cost issues.

  44. @OLDNAT

    In my rounds of campaigning most farmers were Leave,UKIP , Tory supporters just because it was traditional or the conservatives against the City folk. Many I spoke to had not even considered the changes that could occur to the industry.

    on the FT comments section there was a farmer from pembrokeshire whom gave us a update on farmers feeling. it went from elation on June 24th to downright fear not long before I stopped my subscription

    Someone on this site said about frog and slowly boiling to death

    I think we are getting there

  45. Gove is the very definition of an ideologue.

  46. R Huckle Thanks but taking 4 A levels whilst benefitting being a rounded person hinders university entrance.

    1 x a* plus 2 x A for example is considered better than 4 x A as unis tend to look at the best 3 and, of course, doing 4 subjects makes it harder to get better grades in the top 3.

    My son wanted to 4 and drop one but would now get nothing for his 4th should he drop after a year having eaten up time he could have used on the 3 he took.

    As per Nick Gove drove through changes without proper consultation and ignored those who did comment. IMO The most damaging Education minister in my adult life, I cant comment pre-79, not just 6 forms but also in secondary schools where he forced HTs to narrowed option choices by resetting priorities and targets without any real thought but based on a bygone years best approach.

    I cant comment in primary as I have no first hand knowledge.

  47. Nick P,
    If I might suggest a coalition,

    There once was a PM called May
    Who went to the country one day
    She always maintained
    That “Nothing had Changed!”
    But her majority fair went away

  48. Very amusing to see to see the OECD describes leaving the EU as akin to the blitz. Well I was in London during the blitz, not that I remember, being less than a year old, but I do remember celebrating Victory in Europe Day so hopefully we will be celebrating leaving the EU in the same way. The OECD has an unenviable reputation second possibly, only to the IMF of getting its forecast of the UK economy wrong.

    Meanwhile the GoBE has been saying to the Treasury Select Committee that the EUs financial stability could be threatened if the UK left without a deal. In those circumstances the EU would be short of financial services because it would lose access to the City of London. He also said that EU banks had done less that UK based banks to prepare for Brexit with no deal.

    I understand that David Davis is saying supported by TM, that the EU is stalling the talks, and basically holding out for more money. Surprise, surprise, they are worried about that “black hole “in the EU finances. I hope sources are correct in reporting that the PM will not offer any more, after dinner tomorrow night, nor should she, we have already offered more than enough. Clearly Hammond was correct when he described our so called ” friends in Europe “ the enemy”.

    Have a good day all.

  49. I should have added that it is reported that the Gof BE also admitted that potential trade deals once we have left the EU could lead to a “jump forward”. Something one of two fo us have been saying.

  50. @Davwel – “It`s a recipe for a loss in biodiversity, landscape views, and negligible returns for any owners. But there will be pressure on the Scottish Government to subsidise this..”

    No it isn’t – as a general statement, this is completely wrong.
    There are some very specific upland areas where remnant ecosystems need some level of grazing, but even here, modern sheep breeds tend not to be favoured, so if regular grazing is required to maintain diversity conservation managers tend to go for cattle, goats or traditional non flocking sheep breeds. There are virtually no upland areas in the UK that haven’t been severaly degraded by sheep and/or deer.

    In terms of financial return, this really is the daft bit. There is ample evidence that subsidized sheep farming actually loses upland areas money. We are i fact subsidizing an industry that removes value from local economies, but somehow has come to be viewed as a vital part of the upland economic landscape.

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