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)

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

1 3 4 5 6 7
  1. I very much agree with comment of Sorbus (5.43 pm) that the narrow limits for population size in constituencies cause many of the Boundary Commissions` difficulties. And hence the upset that will follow to constituents and politicians.

    Such narrow limits might have been practical for 650 constituencies but are certainly harsh for the present 600.

    If the BC operated on a 7% range rather than a 5% range, then something better could have been proposed for northern Scotland, giving an extra seat obtained from peripheral seats losing slices by being allowed to have populations lower than the 71031 limit.

    It is quite absurd to have two very large seats next to each other in this very lightly populated rural district with awkward long journeys.

    The proposed Moray & Nairn qualifies by having just 30 people less than the maximum of 78507, and has a strange shape to squeeze in both Tomintoul and Nairn town. And as for Highland North – who could think that it was satisfactory to have Thurso, Wick, Inverness city and Skye in one constituency.

    The sooner this review is abandoned the better. The BC have an impossible task at 600 seats.

  2. @ CARFREW – I think we’ve gone off on a tangent. Cutting VAT as a response to the financial crisis was IMHO the wrong policy. Yes, Darling turned the economy around pretty quick (too quick?) but cutting VAT slashed govt revenues and with a trade deficit on goods we should have taken the devaluation as a chance to reign in consumer spending and fix the current account deficit. We have another devaluation opportunity now that I fear the current govt are scuppering.

    With regards to cornering a market then how about state ownership and trade union control of natural monopolies? The trade union has the opportunity to exploit the state ownership and resist change or modern technology in order to protect their members relative wealth but at the expense of the public good and national competitive standing. I understand the economic merits of a natural monopoly – has McDonnell elaborated on how state owned monopolies would be run?

    However, I am coming around to this idea of a single state owned player in an otherwise free and privatised market though. I know SNP are going to try this approach on a larger scale and keen to see how that goes, whether ECJ are OK with it, etc. It’s a shame that it will be 5y+ before we can really say if it worked or not.

    @ PTRP – I’ve just spotted your comment on STEMM. Not sure of the context though? My first degree was in engineering and the job opportunities in the early 1990s were not very good so I didn’t pursue engineering as a career. I know UK is behind the likes of US and Germany for starting salaries for engineers but even in UK it’s right up there near the top as one of the best degrees in terms of starting salary and likelihood of finding a graduate job. Not sure about the rural Devon v Exeter thing. In my childhood the phrase the Tories used was “get on your bike” and my dad had a very long journey to find work – far more than Exeter to rural Devon and not for a well paid job at that! I was bought up in a very anti-Thatcher era/area and have only adjusted my view in hindsight. “Best” degree info abundant on the web, here’s just one pick:

  3. Another solution to the problem of making fair constituency boundaries would be to have lower mean sizes for the devolved polities.

    This would particularly help NI, which suffers in getting its views heard in the HoC since it has so few MPs and SF do not attend debates.

    But we meantime have very unfair treatment for Scotland with EVEL, and having more members in the HoC from a range of political parties would help prevent similar prejudicial treatments.

  4. @TW – “…but cutting VAT slashed govt revenues and with a trade deficit on goods we should have taken the devaluation as a chance to reign in consumer spending and fix the current account deficit.”

    Which would have been a complete disaster.

    Attempting to reign in consumer spending at the time VAT was cut would have been catastrophic and was entirely the wrong policy. Indeed, it was consumer spending that kept the economy from depression at this time.

    Otherwose, we may be able to agree on something. The actual problem with consumer spending came later, after Osborne failed to promote business investment and instead embarked on cutting the current account deficit. With no balancing boost to the economy he had to maintain increased consider spending, and it was this point when consumer spending should have been tackled, but he didn’t get the first bit right.

  5. @Trevor W

    “@ CARFREW – I think we’ve gone off on a tangent. Cutting VAT as a response to the financial crisis was IMHO the wrong policy. Yes, Darling turned the economy around pretty quick (too quick?) but cutting VAT slashed govt revenues and with a trade deficit on goods we should have taken the devaluation as a chance to reign in consumer spending and fix the current account deficit. We have another devaluation opportunity now that I fear the current govt are scuppering.”


    Yes, this doesn’t work at all. It’s what the purveyors of household economics propagate, that Darling massively overspent, but he didn’t. The DEFICIT ballooned to over 150 Bn, but the actual STIMULUS was only around 30Bn, and VAT cut was only a fraction of that.

    Why? Because most of the deficit was covering lost revenues due to the crunch, lost tax, and then the big increase in welfare costs as we lost seven percent of the economy. It wasn’t new money.

    You would have had to spend this money regardless, just to stop falling off the cliff. Leaving VAT alone would not have made much of a dent in the overall deficit.

    Secondly, you are not seeing how the stimulus of things like VAT turns things around and saves money. Imagine what the deficit would have looked like if we had not stopped the spiral downwards and turned a seven percent hit into over two percent growth.

    Each percentage point of growth was about £14Bn back then. Then look what happened when we made cuts, until the housing stimulus.

  6. @ ALEC – OK “reign in” was the wrong phrase – switch “reign in” to “not actively promote continued”. Instead of seeing tax receipts plummet they should IMHO have adopted a more Keynesian approach (massive increase in infrastructure spending, etc). The fact it was a LAB govt was even more bizarre!

    Osborne cut corporation tax to increase UK competitiveness but I’ll concede it was a very blunt tool – tax incentives to increase skills and jobs training would have been better long term policies and would have meant we could take advantage of the improved terms of trade due to the currency devaluation.

    Osborne cut the budget deficit – not the current account deficit. The current account deficit dropped in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis but rapidly got back to where it was (click 10y button on this link):

    The current account deficit, along with productivity and ageing population are the major macro economic challenges the UK faces and neither party currently have much to offer in fixing them – LAB’s policies IMHO would make them worse!

  7. DavWel

    I don’t think you can use SF’s refusal to take up their seats as an argument for more NI seats – people choose to vote for SF in the full knowledge that SF won’t participate in UK politics.

    I’m not qualified to comment on whether SF’s reasons for their stance include undermining the legitimacy of UK government of NI by reducing the de facto representation of NI at Westminster.

  8. ALEC and TW

    You both mean ‘rein in’ not ‘reign in’ – as in reining in a horse – one of my pet peeves! (Sorry.)

  9. @Trevor W

    “With regards to cornering a market then how about state ownership and trade union control of natural monopolies? The trade union has the opportunity to exploit the state ownership and resist change or modern technology in order to protect their members relative wealth but at the expense of the public good and national competitive standing.”


    Well yes, as you go on to say, there’s just having a state player in the market instead rather than a monopoly, depending on how easy it is to do this in the sector.

    But as regarding state monopoly, you have to compare trade union gouging, with the gouging of capital instead. To strike is something a lot of people don’t like to do, because it costs them money and they risk losing their jobs if the company takes a hit. Consequently we only tended to see strikes when wage packets had been hit badly by inflation.

    But if you compare with when capital holds sway, are the trains better now? They’re more expensive and you can’t even get a seat, never mind the hassle of using different operators. Is energy better? Is it cheaper? As Jack Dee put it, are we getting better quality leccy now or something?

    Since the state stopped building so many houses, do we all live in palaces or does it cost a fortune for a cupboard in London? Do you think if we stopped state education the private sector would plug the gap fabulously?

    You can look at it another way Trev. that a few more strikes are the price of success. Because strikes are more likely during full employment hence workers have more power, and inflation is more likely too.

    And at least with trade unions, it is the people getting more pay, and this in turn lifts the pay of others. Thus you used to be able to being up a family on a single wage, in the trade union era. When capital prevails, it is often driving down wages for some which in turn pulls wages down for others. Though not MPs obviously. They might hate unions, but they’ll happily band together and secure big rises for themselves!

  10. @Trevor W.

    To sum it up straightforwardly, Trevor, don’t fall into the trap of having these things boxed into an either/or. That it’s either Capitalism or Socialism, or Trade unions or not.

    Reality is, we benefit from a mixed economy, and likewise benefit from having both unions and capital, and you try and get closer to a balance between them. Give capital too much power and you see the results.

    We didn’t used to have to worry about unimployment and welfare and trickle down. Most had good paying jobs and affordable bills.

  11. Gone 9pm so I’ll save the discussion on multiplier effects of increased spending v tax cuts for another time. IMHO people overlook the trade deficit in goods, overlook what caused the crash and I forget now – a third point that quite important. I’ll concede the “urgency” issue but that was IMHO the role of BoE to respond quickly on the demand side. A short sharp Keynesian boost should have stabilised employment and consumer confidence especially when combined with huge cut in interest rates.

    We face a similar issue now with how to handle the economic dip we will have with Brexit and this circles back to my concern with Hammond being Osborne 2.0

    Anyway ‘night all.

  12. @Trevor

    Ah, I see you were on about the current account deficit. Well, I would still argue stimulus to overcome the economic hit was still the priority.

  13. @Trevor

    “A short sharp Keynesian boost should have stabilised employment and consumer confidence especially when combined with huge cut in interest rates.”


    But we had just lost seven percent of the economy and so needed rather more. That’s how we got out of a much bigger hole after the war.

  14. Sorbus @ 9.14 pm

    I don`t agree with Sinn Fein not fully taking part at Westminster, and hope they will change.

    But to have the DUP being the predominant voice for NI in the HoC does mean that a lot of moderate Irish people are unrepresented in debates and committees.

    It seems to me we have a geographical lottery in Westminster representation, with two minority fundamentalist Xtian groups faring so differently, the NI Presbyterians and the Highland Free Church members.

    Both of them should have a voice, but meantime the former has considerable power and the latter just a secondhand whisper.

  15. DavWel

    I’d argue that religious interests are over-represented at Westminster (given that in general terms the UK is a secular country) owing to the presence of the Lords Spiritual.

  16. “It seems to me we have a geographical lottery in Westminster representation, with two minority fundamentalist Xtian groups faring so differently, the NI Presbyterians and the Highland Free Church members. ”

    In the end, if moderate Irish people are unrepresented in debates and committees its because of the way the majority of their compatriots have progressively come to vote over the last twenty years. Whose to say that if you double the number of seats they’ll suddenly stop voting for the parties of either extreme?

    The specific point of the relative representation of the two Christian groups is also not so much geographical as numerical I think.

    The wee frees have barely a thousand members, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland about a quarter of a million (not all in the six counties mind).

    In fact as Na h-Eileanan an Iar is by a distance the smallest constituency, and already exempt from the average size rules, the system is in reality weighted a bit that way already.


    Interestingly that’s what I thought you would reply.

    And, sadly, so was yours. Previously I thought you had tunnel vision only on the EU.

  18. LASZLO

    I can’t find the poll, and I wanted to give the data. It could have been a hard copy of a German newspaper that I picked up in transit.
    Essentially, the vast majority of the polled Germans repatriated from Russia voted for AfD, while the Germans repatriated from Romania split between the mainstream parties.

    There certainly was a lot of discussion about this before the Bundestag election and much related fear of Russian interference[1]. There doesn’t seem much evidence of either in the short term. Though, as in many other countries, long-term, anti-immigrant propaganda from Russian sources has contributed to the rise of xenophobia.

    There is some evidence that Russian-born Germans[2] are more likely to vote for the AfD, the best and most recent article I found is here:


    though there doesn’t seem to be any relevant polling. It’s also difficult to distinguish whether a higher than normal AfD vote among Russians is caused by their ethnicity or by shared characteristics with other AfD voters such as low economic status or (especially) living in the former East. And, unlike similar groups they will probably be less willing to vote for The Left on historical grounds.

    [1] A lot of this US-originated as they have had quite a few fits of seeing Reds under the Web over the last year and are assuming there will be attempts to interfere in any election going. Some but by no means all of it justified.

    [2] Who are actually the biggest foreign-born group of voters, maybe up to 2 million:
    Of course as ethnic Germans, unlike other immigrants, they automatically have citizenship and therefore voting rights.

  19. An interesting analysis of the significance of Catalonia for the EU:-

    The EU defending the Nation State :-) :-) :-)


    It occurs to me that our SNP friends are a bit quet lately.

    I would like to hear how they reconcile their support for EU membership, and its stance on Catalan Independence :-)

  20. PeterW @ 10.25 pm

    It`s a wrong and very low number you have for what you call the Wee Frees.


    100 congregations and 12,000 attenders according to Wikipedia.

    Also there is a strong tendency to only “join” these churches if people are very committed and others are classed as adherents.

    I haven`t time to check on all the splinter churches such as Free Church (Continuing) and what used to be called Associated Presbyterians, but total worshippers in Scotland of these fundamentalist kirks must be in the region of 100,000.

  21. Colin,

    “I would like to hear how they reconcile their support for EU membership, and its stance on Catalan Independence :-)’


    A fair number of those i know personally are raging. They think the SNP should switch to Out of the EU. they tend to be the ones who are more recent post referendum members and very much part of the wider Yes movement.

    As newcomers to Politics, much like Corbynestas they are all for “Radical” policies, action now and a Referendum tomorrow.

    Just as many and that includes me who have accepted that the the EU is a representative of it’s members and like the issue of northern Ireland and the RoI over Brexit it does what members want.

    It really has no option but to back the member state on an internal issue. Thus the Scottish Government position of urging dialogue and that the people of Catalonia should be allowed to make a choice but within the law.

    Ideally the way out for us, would be for Madrid to allow a legal referendum and for the catalans to vote Yes.

    Regardless of the result, establishing the principle that regions within EU member states have the right to become independent would be a set forward.

    From the EU perspective Scotland legally leaving the UK post Brexit and being an Independent state would be less problematic than Catalonia trying to leave Spain without Madrid’s approval.

    One possible outcome might be that the combination of Brexit and Spanish negativity because of Catalonia pushed Scotland toward the Norway solution.

    That might actually might work out well. it would park the Euro issue perhaps allow less disruption over the Scotland UK border and might even appeal to those who voted No because they didn’t want an Independent Scotland to be in the EU.

    The option for full EU membership would still be there in the fullness of time and I suspect Scots would vote for it.


  22. Colin

    The situation in Catalonia exposes the fragility of devolved government. There’s no formal mechanism to prevent something similar happening in the UK. We’re reliant on Scottish and UK politicians and political activists behaving sensibly.

    My understanding is that Catalonian public opinion was heavily in favour of holding a binding indyref. I hope and believe that if a similarly large majority of Scots comes to favour a second indyref that Westminster will not stand in the way, but there’s nothing to stop it doing so.

    A quick trawl of Wikipedia to remind myself about Quebec’s independence referenda turned up the information that the federal government was preparing to argue that a ‘yes’ result in the 1995 referendum wasn’t binding because the question wasn’t clear enough… Apparently Canada has sinced passed a Clarity Act.

    You’d think a British civil servant would have spared 30s for quick Internet search when plans were being made for the Brexit referendum.


    That is why I said it was so surprising we’ve had virtually no change in the Leave % – even though they see it going badly they are not deserting.

    In relation to Brexit, I’ve often referred to that quote attributed to Swift about how it is impossible to reason someone out of an opinion they were no reasoned into. Leave voters were more likely to say they had made the choice on emotional grounds than Remain ones as we know from an Ashcroft pre-Ref poll:


    where 65% of Leavers said they based their decision on “My instincts about which is the right direction to take” as opposed to “Factual information”, while only 52% of Remainers (and 46% of the undecided[1]) felt the same.

    The Ashcroft poll had asked people to rate themselves from 0 (absolutely certain to vote Remain) to 100 (ditto Leave) and it is notable just how more definite Leavers were (see page 20 ff). 23% of the total sample said 100 but only 4% said 0. So not only are Leavers less likely to be persuaded by evidence, they are also more set in their ways, literally more extreme.

    We also know that Leavers pay less attention to politics and have lower levels of formal education (p 24), indeed several studies have found that the strongest predictor of Leave. So these are people who are not easy to persuade, especially with complex factual arguments.

    So while the constant bad news from the negotiating table and economic forecasts may discomfort Leave’s more rational and educated supporters, the majority who backed it may simply miss or ignore most of the problems. And of course they also have their own on-going reinforcement in the rhetoric and emotion of much of the Press (and these are the people who still take notice of it).

    Having blamed ‘Europe’ as the source of all ills for decades, the idea of Brexit as some sort of magical cure-all has become a matter of faith for a very large number of Leavers – and like all believers it is difficult to get them to change their minds.

    [1] Note that in this poll (sample size 5009, about a month before polling) 52% were Leave, 38% Remain and 10% undecided. It suggests both the ideas that all polling predicted Remain and that Remain lost the campaign are untrue.

  24. Trying to catch up (after being busy on other things) and so many good comments from multiple positions – which is why I keep coming back to UKPR!

    Toby Ebert

    “more like an anti-nation state movement. Scotland, Catalonia, the northern Italian regions are very keen to stay in the EU, but they don’t want to be part of the UK, Spain, Italy”

    Maybe look at this from a slightly different angle?

    Small nations are currently keen to be in a union with a wide range of other states (including their dominant partners)

    That position makes far more sense than just being a small minority in an Incorporating Union, where your views can be totally ignored (as opposed to just being marginalised, unless you can be part of a wider coalition of states with similar concerns).

    I understand that advocates of the current system of states (few of them are “nation” states) like to describe those who want to escape the “clutches” of a very dominant majority as “separatists”. – though they are more accurately described as “expansionists” in preferring a wider union.

    Brexiteer Brit Nats, in particular, should probably preserve the term “separatist” to themselves, but I suspect that that would require a self-awareness which many lack.

  25. PeterW

    As if to emphasise the point, “No” did better in Scotland and London in ’75 as well.

    Dunno about London, but the SNP position in 1975 was “Yes, but not on anyone else’s terms”, so it’s not just about demographics, but the perception (in a small country) of how it’s interests are best served through its relations with others,

    It’s a point I often make, but it’s still relevant to the large number of Scots who think in political terms about what is best for Scotland.

    Obviously, there are lots of folk in Scotland, whi feel it is best to subordinate Scottish interests to those of SE England – but that has always been the political dynamic!

  26. Roger Mexico

    Thanks. Maybe it was a guesswork rather than a poll. Still, what you linked and your emphasis seem to correspond to what I read it that newspaper at Munich airport (but I’m quite sure that it had the title of polling of foreign born Germans).

    Anyway, thanks, as always, for your insightful comment.

  27. A good examination of the reasons behind the present difficulties between Catalonian and Spanish governments can be found at the link below.


  28. @sorbus

    The Lords Spiritual certainly overrepresent the state Christian church of England but no other religious groups!

  29. R Huckle
    Yes, I saw that football piece the other day. Really very funny.

    And, sadly, so was yours. Previously I thought you had tunnel vision only on the EU.

    I think you actually mean that I disagree with you?

    I certainly don’t consider I have tunnel vision on either the economy or the EU, since I have considered other views on both. It’s just that after considering those other views I continue to think my view is correct. That’s not tunnel vision.


    Thanks for that.

    I imagined that it would be testing for your members.



    My interest is in the wider implications for the EU.

    On the particular though, whilst my base position is general support for expression of cultural identity, what I read leaves me with doubts about the level & nature of support for Independence in Catalonia .

  31. Hireton

    Fair point. Given that DavWel specifically mentioned the Free Church of Scotland I should have expanded slightly. I also had in mind the convention that the Chief Rabbi, the head of the Catholic Church and presumably the heads of the Muslim and Sikh faiths also get seats. No idea about other brands of religion.

    The perspective of the 26% of the population who said they had no religion in the 2011 census (recent E&W and S social attitudes surveys get somewhere between 45 and 50% with what I assume is a similar question) isn’t represented at all.

  32. SAM

    A very interesting article-thanks.

  33. Colin

    what I read leaves me with doubts about the level & nature of support for Independence in Catalonia

    Which makes refusing to allow a referendum (for which there was widespread support, >75% IIRC) seem a real misstep.

  34. From yesterday’s Hansard:

    “Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab)

    The Prime Minister talks a great deal about an implementation deal. We all know that we will be withdrawing in March 2019. There is no disagreement on the divorce deal. The free trade deal, however, may take some time to negotiate. Does the Prime Minister accept—this is what business needs to hear—that a transition deal may help to deal with the finer detail and the final conclusion of the trade negotiation, and therefore will not be so much of an implementation but a proper transition?

    The Prime Minister

    Both sides recognise that the timetable was set out in the Lisbon treaty, which does indeed refer to the future relationship. The withdrawal agreement can only be considered and agreed taking account of the future relationship. It is important that we negotiate that future relationship, so we have both the withdrawal agreement and the future partnership, and the implementation period then is a practical implementation period.

    Angela Smith
    indicated dissent.

    The Prime Minister

    The hon. Lady looks as if she does not believe that that is possible. The point is that we start these negotiations on a completely different basis from any other third country. We start on the basis that we are already trading with the other member states of the European Union on the basis of rules and regulations, and when we leave we will have taken those EU regulations, EU law and the EU acquis, into UK law.

    It seems to me that Mrs May is following the lead of David Davis in suggesting to the Commons that the UK government believes a new “deep and special” FTA can be done before March 29, 2019. There is little chance the UK will have decided its negotiating position by December this year.



    I concur some of what was intimated in the poll from AShcroft it is definitely worth reading his book too. His conclusion considering he supported leave was rather interesting which kind of sums up the title.

    I remember after a week of campaigning myself and a person talking about what we had discussed with people on the doorstep. One of my more memorable conversation was with a woman whom has a list of complaints from schools to GP waiting list and when I pointed out that none of these issues were to do with the EU her response was but this is the only vote I have. it was not that people were just europhobic although there is lots of people whom had legitimate reason to be europhobic. I just do not think most people really cared about them. Most people seem Pi55ed off about their situation and that firstly the motivation to get out and vote and the fact that the electorate gave our political elite another curveball with the GE2017 result.

    My personal problem with brexit is twofold personally I use FoM in my job (I contract for many different companies both here and in the EU) but secondly and may be more importantly the EU has nothing to do with all the issue we face, and even in converstaion on this site with people whom voted leave they are often expecting a root and branch change in the UK approach to virtually everything without a consensus as to what should be change amongst the Tories themselves.

    Now my view is that people are hoping that by some effect world trade will rescue us when other using the same rule out export us.
    My personal bugbear is that now after we have voted leave people are talking borrowing money to build housing as an example as if there was an EU regulation forbidding it. or talk about an investment bank again something that Germany does rather well. although I admit we voted to oppose these thing 42% to 40% if only democracy could work like that for brexit ;-)

    I feel the emotion thing may have been overplayed in the fact that people were not talking leave per se but in a significant proportion were just upset that their interests were not being served.

    What worries me is that we have no real consensus as to what we want. it appears that our thatherism days of asking for rolls royce services from the state to be paid for at skoda prices is a key part of our problem. My personal issue however is that we do not invest enough to create higher paid jobs and we are reliant on so many foreign companies to basically do our manufacturing and that these companies are embedded in an EU supply chain.

    So I am hoping the May has a plan or else I will have to implement mine.

    The book by the way is here

    definitely worth a read as a remainer. It give me the impression that we lost the EU referendum at the financial crisis

  36. An interesting review of an interesting book :-


    I like this quote :-

    ” When Sarkozy, who irked her with his impulsiveness and inferiority complex, tells Merkel: Angela, we are made to get along. We are the head and legs of the European Union,” she retorts: “No Nicolas, you are the head and legs. I am the bank.””


  37. Obviously the church links of political parties should not be a main concern of this thread. But wrong ideas and an English outlook that assumes the Church of England is supreme throughout the UK and speaks effectively for all the other Christian groups needs a gentle correction.

    Last night PeterW came up (10,25 pm) with some wrong numbers for the fundamentalist churches in Highland Scotland, but also claimed that in Ireland the fundamentalist Presbyterians had 250,000 members.

    But those numbers are for the mainstream Presbyterian Church, not Ian Paisley`s “Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster”. This stricter body is the base driving the DUP party, and I believe has a smaller membership.

  38. I’m puzzled by the apparent view of brexit-inclined posters in regard to Cataluña that the EU should be (a) not simply saying it’s an internal matter for one of its member states and (b) that its failure to become involved is lamentable.

    Surely these are the same people who most resent any apparent interest of the EU in UK internal affairs?

    The question occurs: if Sturgeon were, in a rush of enthusiasm, to declare the SNP+Green absolute majority in the Scottish parliament to be a mandate for independence, and get a UDI motion passed, would any posters here expect the UK government to accept that? And would they think it fair enough if the EU took Scotland’s side?

    Just asking!

  39. @OLDNAT

    ‘Small nations are currently keen to be in a union with a wide range of other states’.

    Yes, I agree. I suppose for a social-democratic Scot (which most Scots are) independence from the UK but continued membership of the EU is a win-win. They “take back control” from Westminster but have the trade advantages of being in the EU.

    I’ve also read somewhere that “smaller nations are happier”; something to do with voters having their voices heard maybe? It seems to be true in Scandinavia that people feel more engaged in their nation’s politics.

  40. I have a feeling that Theresa May is being a little vague with some of her statements on Brexit, to keep Brexiteers happy. Yesterday in the HoC, May said any transitional deal period would be under A.50. She was asked whether this meant EU single market and customs area would be as it is now, without really being clear exactly how this transitional deal would work.

    We now have Barnier saying that UK are most likely to end up with a deal similar to Canada, which May ruled out recently.


    My instinct is telling me that May will extend the A.50 period if necessary, should the transitional deal not be agreed by October 2018. She is hoping for a bespoke deal to just cover a 2 year transition period from 30th March 2019, but such a deal might not be possible. It might be too complicated and leave open legal issues, that should be avoided. If this is the case then i can see A.50 being extended by 2 years meaning the UK continues in the EU but in the departure lounge.

  41. @Colin (& others) – there is an extremely interesting article in a recent New Scientist publication ‘Essential Knowledge’ (the whole thing is very well worth buying) which looks at the history and future of the nation state.

    It’s a long article, but in a very brief summary, it postulates that the modern concept of nations is a historical aberration, dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This agreed that the drawn up borders at that time within Europe defined sovereignty, which had previously been defined by allegiances to kings and families etc on a much more fluid basis. Even after this, the article suggests that national identity was much more fluid than we think, citing the fact that at the time of the formation of Italy, only 2.5% of it’s people spoke conventional Italian. [There was a quote given along the lines of ‘now we have created Italy, we must create some Italians]. The French and US revolutions were cited as creating the first nations based on an idea on nationhood and citizenship, as opposed to simple economic jurisdiction.

    In terms of national borders and citizenship as we understand them today, the article suggests that the advent of the world’s first unemployment relief system in Prussia in the 1860’s was a major development. For the first time, a state had to identify who it’s people were, in order to assess eligibility for welfare benefits. [What goes around comes around?]. So the Prussians invented a bureaucracy to manage their welfare system, which effectively started the idea of passports, borders and cross border regulations, at least as they applied to citizens. From this point, people were labelled as citizens of one country or another – a new concept.

    Where the article was doubly fascinating was in the driving forces behind nationhood and what this means for the future. In essence, it suggested that suitable geopolitical divisions arose as these reflected the scale and complexity of the economy. Nation states developed as these were the most appropriate scales on which to manage economies. Such entities need not be ethnic or culturally defined, but absorbing multiply cultures can only work if there is a strong administration delivering benefits for all groups.

    Looking to the future, again, as the economy gets more complex and operates on a global scale, the nation state as defined by the authors starts to look much less secure. Different challenges need different scales of response (global warming, regulating the internet, etc) while at the other end cultural diversity within nations is being stressed by the impacts of globalization that nation states are struggling to contain.

    The implications are that larger scale collaborative groupings are required – such as the EU – working in certain areas to protect members on the required scale. Different structures to address different problems, as indeed has happened in recent decades (the UN, the ICCP, the EU etc) while at the same time power needs to be devolved downwards to more homogenous and smaller units, each operating under a strong administrative umbrella. ‘Subsidiarity’ even gets a mention.

    It’s well worth tracking down and reading through – for people on all sides of the Brexit debate. I’m still thinking it through, but it does propose a seemingly sensible explanation for the presence of modern nation states, as well as raise important questionmarks over their future role.

  42. @sorbus

    The issue is that there is no “head” of the Muslim faith as there is no equivalent to the structure of the Christian churches ( I’m afraid I don’t know the situation with the Sikh faith). Even with the Church of Scotland the moderator of the General Assembly is only in office for one year. So even aiming to represent religious groups in the HoL is fraught with difficulty. Better to do away with the Lords Spiritual in my view!

  43. Hireton
    Better to do away with the Lords Spiritual in my view!



    So the theory might be that nation states larger than a certain size are too small to deal with global challenges on their own, and too large to give a proper voice to all their multifarious citizens.

  45. @Toby Ebert – “…I’ve also read somewhere that “smaller nations are happier”; something to do with voters having their voices heard maybe?”

    The same NS publication also said something about this.

    In another article, it looked at happiness and the fact that research in the US shows clearly that optimistic people are healthier and live longer, while this finding is not replicated in other studies, most notably japan, where live expectancy is much greater overall.

    The conclusion was that the health benefits to optimistic Americans, which are real and measurable, come not from being optimistic, but instead come from being in tune with your wider cultural context. America is defined as a land of hope, so being downbeat places you at odds with your prevailing culture, and this has a negative effect on your well being.

    Denmark is apparently very happy, but this may well be down to nothing more than the fact that it is remarkably culturallu homogenous, so everyonefeels comfortable in their environment.

    Small countries may well be more happy but not just because they are small, but more perhaps because there are less differences apparent. A small country made up of radically different cultures may well experience much lower levels of happiness.

  46. @Alec

    For many years I subscribed to New Scientist, because it covered so many interesting fields that I wouldn’t otherwise easily keep up to speed on. But it kept getting thinner and thinner, and the sub went up and up, and the breadth of coverage seemed to decline (so much cosmology!), so I stopped subscribing three or four years ago.

    This article sounds fascinating (if a little banal to anyone with a social science background). It’s all pretty obvious, but as so often, rationalism comes up against emotion. As long as people bind themselves to supernatural religious beliefs, they will also pay allegiance to nationality.

  47. An interesting initiative by some Brexit MPs and possibly an indication of how they see a post Brexit UK operating as regards academic freedom?


  48. Hireton

    I guess it’s more about running out of arguments, and a way of trying to protect the Y and Z generations from liberal inclination.

  49. This might interest some people. It’s by Douglas Fraser on the Scotland section of the BBC site so you may have missed it.

    Not really a great fan of him probably because he’s not a great fan of the SNP to be honest, but he does often give a good critique.

    Don’t always agree with his conclusions but I like that fact that he often asks the right questions!

    Anyway this is his view from visiting Brussels.



  50. “Thats easy since I also use evidense based reasoning as i explained, but others cannot judge it because i have neither the time nor the inclination to post it.”

    To be honest, I had to laugh at this from @TOH. It’s one of those childish responses that we sometimes get on here – ‘I have the evidence, but I’m not telling.’ type of thing.

    I couldn’t help thinking about the recent posts on the EU open skies passenger flight issue, where @TOH, like many others (inluding me) had no idea about the issues until someone posted them. Not knowing the evidence on this, and many other things, didn’t stop him making up his mind.

    To be fair, we are all like that to one degree or another. We may as well accept we have preconceived beliefs and it’s very rare for any of us to have our minds changed by evidence.

    The real point of evidence is to offer support for our beliefs and to try and convince others, which rather makes @TOH’s relationship with evidence somewhat surprising.

1 3 4 5 6 7