But whadda about the Rotten Boroughs Ritchie?

Despite having no parliamentary majority, and do having no mandate for fundamental constitutional change, the government is permitting work to continue on the reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

This is a fundamentally undemocratic move. I know all the arguments about supposedly delivering proportionality. If that’s the desire then my answer is simple: deliver what we really need to create that, which is proportional representation.

But if instead we are to have first past the post and the continuing pretence that one person can represent all the interests of the people in their community, even if many would never have voted for them, then at the very least there has to be a very profound dedication to the principle that constituencies must represent real communities, and not gerrymandered blocks of the population who happen to fit a geographically based, statistically consistent, model that has no bearing to the places where people live.

Amazingly we’ve been doing this for a couple of centuries now. One of the great Parliamentary irruptions of the Enlightenment being those reallocations away from the Rotten Boroughs. And today’s allocations work upon, roughly enough, the following rules:

The boundary commissions are required to apply a set series of rules when devising constituencies.

Firstly, each proposed constituency has to comply with two numerical limits:

the electorate (number of registered voters) of each constituency must be within 5% of the United Kingdom electoral quota. The electoral quota is the average number of electors per constituency, defined as the total mainland electorate divided by the number of mainland constituencies, where “mainland” excludes four island constituencies: Orkney and Shetland, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles), and two on the Isle of Wight.
the area of a constituency must be no more than 13,000 square kilometres.
There are a small number of exceptions to the numerical limit on electorate which are specified in the legislation:

the four island constituencies are permitted to have a smaller electorate than the usual limit;
a constituency with an area of more than 12,000 square kilometres may have a smaller electorate than the usual limit; and
constituencies in Northern Ireland may be subject to slightly different limits under certain circumstances.
Having satisfied the electorate and area requirements, each commission can also take into account a number of other factors:

“special geographical considerations” including the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency;
local government boundaries;
boundaries of existing constituencies;
local ties which would be broken by changes to constituencies;
inconveniences resulting from changes to constituencies.
It is evident that the other factors can to an extent be mutually contradictory, and therefore each commission has discretion on how it applies them. In so doing, each commission aims for a consistent approach within a review.

We should take this whinge for what it really is, nakedly political. Labour, as has been true for many a year, has a preponderance of seats in those areas losing population. Meeting exactly Ritchie’s criteria means they lose a few safe seats.

31 thoughts on “But whadda about the Rotten Boroughs Ritchie?”

  1. He’s a miserable weasel is he not? Look also at the Lords. Blair stuffed it full of lefties and we seem stuck with a grossly disproportional mess that can’t be unstucked.

  2. Remove the vote from the RoP and SubSahara.

    That will put a big dent in Corbyn’s bandwagon.

    But then if you are moronic BluLabour scum who believes 99% of the same socialist shite that Jezza does –then you really can’t can you?

  3. I’m still waiting for any objectively reasonable reason why constituencies shouldn’t have equal sizes. It always seems to come down to Labourites being entirely comfortable with their in-built advantage making up self-serving excuses as to why that’s just great.

  4. One of the great Parliamentary irruptions of the Enlightenment being those reallocations away from the Rotten Boroughs.

    Bit of a stretch, that!

  5. So the Government doesn’t have a mandate for redrawing constituency boundaries, as it’s majority is too small.
    If so it has not got a mandate for reversing a process started in the last Parliament but one and continued in the last Parliament.
    Even less does it have a mandate for the introduction of PR, a constitutional reform expressly rejected by the electorate in a referendum.

  6. Philip Scott Thomas

    Perhaps he should have begun by looking up the word ‘gerrymander’. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I don’t think it means what he thinks it means.

  7. “Despite having no parliamentary majority”
    But the Conservatives did win a majority of HofC seats which are the important ones. If ‘parliamentary’ is to be Richard’s weasel word there it’s pretty damn weak. A HofL majority, if even necessary because the threat is usually enough, can be achieved with a bit of help from Elizabeth or the Parliament Act.
    And in any case If they don’t have a majority on any particular vote in the commons then whatever it is doesn’t happen. Conclusion- Richard it’s ok constitutional panic over.
    I didn’t agree with the reduction to 600. In the UK system where ministers have to be in parliament and have to be in a party that forms the government it does rather reduce the selection pool somewhat. I expect a side effect will be to counteract that Central office will meddle even more to parachute in their chosen candidates.

  8. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    We are about 15 years late with these reforms. Blair delayed them because they would have been to his disadvantage and the Liberals stymied them last time because… I don’t know something to do with paper clips subsidies…

    this actually should have nothing to do with the government. the Commission should impose the changes whatever and execute those who are going to lose their seats on Parlaiment Green ( I was watching John Hurt in 1984 last night and rather over-revelling in the public executions and two minutes of hate )

  9. “there has to be a very profound dedication to the principle that constituencies must represent real communities, and not gerrymandered blocks of the population who happen to fit a geographically based, statistically consistent, model that has no bearing to the places where people live.”

    What’s he want, then? Taking that to it’s logical conclusion, you abandon constituencies altogether & elect representatives on a national, PR, party list system. Labour bleeds votes to far left wing fringe parties & the Greens & abandons any hope of ever forming a government. Parliament gets substantial representation for wherever UKIP voters find comfortable plus a BNP resurgence & a fundamentalist Islamic bloc.
    Is that really where he wants to go?

  10. Are they finally getting on with this then? They’d better get a move on – if Fishface loses a vote of no confidence and there’s an election, Worzel will very likely win, and this un-gerrymandering will be stopped immediately.

  11. If Ritchie wants to see the gerrymandering that takes place when politicians rather than independent bodies draw up boundaries, he should probably look at the Land of the Unfree. Some of those Congressional districts are works of art.

  12. For someone so desperate for Labour to do well in constituency elections, he chooses to live in ones that will never be Labour in a million years.

  13. They’re not “permitting” the BC to continue, the BC is *forced* to continue as the law compels them to continue. The only way the BC is legally allowed to stop is if Parliament repeals the current legislation.

    Browing the maps just after midnight this morning, most of it is considerably improved over the initial proposals. Still a bit messy, but it’s constrained by the rules the four BCs have to work with.

  14. And quickly looking through Richie’s blogs I don’t find any evidence of him screaming about the 2005 review or the 1995 review or the 1983 review or the 1970 review or the 1952 review or the etc. etc. etc. Y’know, Parliamentary reviews that already happen already to redraw seats because human beings have the audacity to be born, move, and die. The only difference with this review is the reduction from 650 to 600 which isn’t “to get proportionality”, but to reduce the size from 650 to 600. Reviews are *ALWAYS* “to get proportionality”.

  15. @ jgh
    Actually the 2005 review was *not* to get proportionality because Blair & Co gave the BC terms of reference designed to give Labour a substantial advantage – too many seats for Scotland and Wales, out-of-date population numbers so as to maintain an excessive number of inner-City small safe Labour seats.

  16. I’m rather looking forward to the infighting between established politicians wanting a seat and the local labour party wanting their own known locally candidate to stand.
    It does appear Jezza picked his shadow people from those who are now going to be fighting each other and begging for places…

  17. Things would be so much better if some sort of state official were appointed to run appropriate sized administrative districts.

    Arise Professor Murphy, Gauleiter of Cambridgeshire.

  18. john77: Yes, the start of the 2005 review was delayed so it ended up using the 2001 figures for seats for the 2010 election. At least this review started in 2016 using the 2016 figures. A similar thing happened in 1970, but the reasonable excuse then was that local government boundaries were changing.

  19. Bloke in Costa Rica

    If May had held off calling an election until after the Boundary Commission had done its work she’d probably still have a majority.

  20. BiCR,

    I had a moan about this to my MP, and was told it would have made no difference to the result, which I don’t believe.

  21. BiCR

    +1

    I am trying to think of a worse judged political gamble than May’s followed by a more inept follow through in the calling of the election and running of the campaign.

  22. @ jgh
    The general rule “do not attribute to malice that which can be attributed to incompetence” does not apply in this case as New Labour determined that the smallness of the electorate in the Western Isles and Orkney and Zetland should be balanced by oversize constituencies in English shires rather than Glasgow. This cannot be ascribed to incompetence.

  23. There is nothing in electoral law that says a candidate must “represent” a constituency. An MP is voted in by receiving the largest number of votes from a single constituency, so any MP who wants to be re-elected will make a great play of “serving” the people of the constituency, but that is entirely a political construct. Some Labour MPs argue that they should have smaller constituencies in terms of electors because they have more people unentitled or simply not registered to vote, and they need “representation”. Which is frankly billhooks. An MP’s job is to sit in parliament and debate and vote on legislation, not to act as a social worker for their constituents.

  24. Alex – plenty of people over the years have used MPs as social workers to get them what they apparently cannot get themselves.
    Lost count of the number of times a claim was delayed for days or weeks because the claimant had got their MP involved and they needed writing to. Including promises from central office that were in no way legal or going to be acted upon.

  25. I wish more MPs said to the whingers in their constituency ‘get back to me when you’ve followed the complaint process of organisation x and had an outcome’.

  26. So according to the Dicktater, “constituencies must represent real communities”, rather than being numerically equal.

    That might not be a bad idea.

    So that’s 1 MP per London Borough (“communities” in London don’t get much smaller than that), and 1 MP for each Dorset village (each one is a very separate community). I think we’d see a great improvement in the quality of Parliament under that system.

  27. So that’s 1 MP per London Borough (“communities” in London don’t get much smaller than that), and 1 MP for each Dorset village (each one is a very separate community).

    I don’t know – some of the Dorset villages that I know have two very distinct communities: the people whose families have been there forever, and those who have only recently moved (by recent read “since the war”). Both should have equal representation I think.

  28. So according to the Dicktater, “constituencies must represent real communities”, rather than being numerically equal.

    So goodbye Leeds North West, Leeds Central, etc. Hello single super-constituency Leeds Magna, representing the “real community” of Leeds.

  29. @Martin: I am quite well aware that many MPs act as social workers – my point is that there is nothing in the job spec that requires or electoral law that requires them to do so, so when dividing up the nation intro pools of voters we only need to think about equal sized pools of registered voters.

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