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Tristram Hunt on boundary changes

I’ve been looking out for a measured and impartial account of the proposed boundary changes.  I’m still looking – but in the meantime, here’s Tristram Hunt.

It has not been a great start to the term for Labour MPs. Last week, the government decided to close down the Palace of Westminster for future repairs; today it is abolishing our constituencies.

The closure of the Palace of Westminster impacts on all MPs and sounds like a necessary step, however inconvenient.

To say the government is ‘abolishing our constituencies’ glosses over the role played by the boundary commission in the process.

In an act of grotesque gerrymandering, some 23 Labour seats will be liquidated, hundreds of other seats affected and 2 million voters disenfranchised.

There do seem legitimate questions about, for example, reducing seats to 600, the precise metrics used to calculate new boundaries and the impact of the (earlier) switch to individual voter registration.  But – grotesque gerrymandering?

And, just because unregistered voters haven’t been included in boundary size calculations, doesn’t mean they have been disenfranchised, just that constituency sizes would be more uneven than the government thinks appropriate – although almost certainly less uneven than they are now, in a system which is generally agreed to be advantageous to Labour.

I noticed someone questioning Labour’s current advantage by citing this data.

average cost of tory mp = 34,348 votes
average cost of labour mp = 40,290 votes

However I believe this reflects Labour’s many large individual majorities – and is thus compatible with the system being skewed in Labour’s favour through a population movement away from urban (Labour) constituencies into rural areas.

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