Articles

Full steam ahead

In boundary changes, Labour, Lib Dems, Tories on April 23, 2012 by dadge

Kevin Meagher wrote, on 5/1/12:

Boundary review, reviewed

Something […] that will bite the dust in 2012 is the parliamentary boundary review. This was a rash promise by Cameron to slash 50 seats in order to “reduce the cost of politics” at the height of Westminster’s expenses scandal. The figure was entirely arbitrary, so the new proposed boundaries are a dog’s breakfast. And the electoral advantage the Tories confidently predicted is not looking as attractive as first thought.

The seats of six cabinet ministers would be axed, including Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam seat and George Osborne’s berth in leafy Knutsford. The last election was fought on fresh boundaries so there is, technically, no need to fiddle again for a decade. Eventually the government’s political antennae will twitch and the whole thing will be dropped. There is too much political fixing needed to keep everyone happy. The government has better things to worry about.

My response:

1. The figure of 50 seats was not “entirely arbitrary”. Both the decision to cut, and the decision that it would be 50, were made on the basis of Tory research on how best to make the system work more to the their advantage. “Reducing the cost of politics” was a convenient smokescreen.

2. The new seats are a “dog’s breakfast” but this is because of the radically new rules being used by the Boundary Commission, again decided on by the Tories to make the system work more to their advantage. The new system has at its heart the concept of “cracking” – which you should be au fait with – which tends to favour the Tories.

3. The new seats will be somewhat better for the Tories than the current ones. DGMW, the FPTP system will still favour Labour for the time being, but the precedent the changes are setting will gradually erode that advantage over the years.

4. Pickles and co. made the changes a priority in order to reduce and eventually eliminate Labour’s built-in electoral advantage as quickly as possible. They want to redraw the boundaries every five years in order to achieve this. At some point they must’ve briefed their MPs about the rationale behind this, and the fact that some of them will have to suffer for the benefit of the party. Trouble is, some of them will go rogue e.g. Dorries.

5. Considering how important the changes are to the Tory Project, there’s no way that Cameron will drop the whole thing, and the LibDems are too weak to challenge it, even though by supporting the changes they are tying the noose even tighter round their own neck. The opposition to the project must come from Labour, but instead of mounting an effective campaign, Greg Cook went round the country in the autumn licking the Boundary Commission’s arse.

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