Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do Nothing Dave: Planning to Re-Boundary Commission Us


Do Nothing Dave is planning to disrupt constituency boundaries immediately should he seize power with his Do Nothing Dave charms.

On the face of it getting rid of 60 MPs might seem attractive. Though any computation of cost savings based on their average cost now would of course be well wrong. Having recently suffered local government and parliamentary boundary changes there would I think be plenty of resistance to more change round the country.

My household have been boundary changed out of Whalley Range ward into Chorlton, and then out of Man central into Man Wit, with Whalley Range then boundary changed into Man Gorton.

The Tories at the BCE hearing were trying to explode all the current constituencies and gerrymander themselves some more winnables. Their proposal wilfully constructed most of them across Local Government boundaries, even suggesting that the City Centre of Manchester be included in a Salford constituency.

Tory buddies in the Unionist Party of course managed to stitch up the City of Derry so that a two-thirds Catholic electorate were represented by a more then two-thirds Unionist majority on Council Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who invented the practice to concentrate all the Federalists into one seat and take every single other seat for his Anti-Federalists, has a good deal to answer for. There's a good, illustrated discussion of the practice here.

Funniest proposal at the BCE hearing, also thrown out without discussion, was from a defective Lib Demmer. He suggested inter alia that their recently acquired Manchester seat in Withington be split three ways. Right from under John Leech. This included a combined Didsbury and Wythenshawe seat. Which would have gone down well I'm sure with all concerned.

Experts see right through the proposed move, supposedly based on the erroneous idea of 10% cost saving by having 10% less MPs, and even when undertaken by politically neutral authorities:

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said a smaller Commons would tend to exaggerate swings, but in the short term the move “would improve the Tory chances of winning”.
Rob Hayward, an elections analyst and former Tory MP, said speedier boundary reviews would favour the Tories as they would reflect Britain’s shift from urban to rural areas.[Financial Times]

Hat tip: Farmer Dale.

UPDATE Wed 13:38: Cllr Iain Lindley has kindly posted a summary of the official CCHQ alternative proposals to the BCE Hearing. These were extensive and involved a good number of radically carved up former constituencies and trans-border mix ups. Looking to these eyes like gerrymandering attempts. There is not as far as I can see the Salford-City centre Manchester mutant I remembered. But one of these does appear in the Salford Labour Party proposals which Iain has also provided. Apologies.

However it must be said that while these Salford Labour and our own representations on Whalley Range, Moston, Ardwick etc came from small party units with local interests the equivalent official Labour Party representations where largely to support the BCE proposals. As these were drawn up without an eye on the party political repercussions the Labour party pitch was not attempting to gain electoral advantage. Whereas the Tory one ...?

LOL remain opposed to Boundary Commissions changing wards and constituencies every couple of years. Cllr Lindley may be in favour of this for his own reasons. But I'm not.

7 comments:

Iain Lindley said...

Their proposal wilfully constructed most of them across Local Government boundaries, even suggesting that the City Centre of Manchester be included in a Salford constituency.

Come on Chris, that's just a complete fabrication. The Conservative proposal was for a Salford & The Quays constituency. In Manchester, the Conservative proposals would have produced a new south Manchester seat encompassing Didsbury and Wythenshawe and a new cross-border Denton & Gorton seat.

The idea that the Conservative Party is any more partisan at boundary enquiries than the Labour Party is ridiculous. The Labour whip on maintaining Atherton ward in Bolton West was so strong that Salford Labour's counter-proposal wanted to take Leigh East out of the Leigh constituency and into Worsley CC, rather than Atherton ward which was already half in the old Worsley constituency anyway.

(Incidentally the Salford Labour proposals also moved Cheetham ward into the Salford constituency, Charlestown into Oldham West & Royton and had a Manchester Central constituency which didn't include the City Centre... and you were criticising the Conservative proposals?)

Chris Paul said...

I don't give a monkeys about the Salford Labour proposals actually, they appeared pretty barmy. And in similar ways to the Tory ones. Although I was there when Roger and others made their case. Particularly about the unfortunate partition of Eccles as I recall?

We were aiming to have Ardwick shifted into Gorton instead of WR as it was historically part of Gorton and connects more to it topologically. the Assistant commissioner was too interested in geometrical shape and not functional areas. And Kaufman's own arguments made Ardwick fit his criterion to be city centre facing far far better than WR.

I didn't notice you there taking part? But if they did have Manchester Central without the CC they matched the Tories AFAIR. Perhaps I'm wrong. But if so that is not deliberate. I have the full reports somewhere.

But the impression many of us were getting was that the lawyer from Tory HQ was making the case over and over again for rather silly new formations, retaining little of the existing, and that he was doing to create tabla rasas to compete on. And that these were so very different from the BCE drafts that they had little if any chance of gaining any traction.

Anyway, the Tory proposals rejected by the assistant commissioner appeared to create some extraordinary constituencies including the aforementioned Salford one including Manchester Town Hall. Perhaps that was the Salford Labour one? Perhaps all of you agreed on annexing our Town Hall?!

Having just been through two recent boundary reviews I'm not keen on another following so soon. I don't buy the idea of this as either a money saving exercise or a significant improvement in democratic fairness. And I think Curtice and Hayward are right that (once again) such changes would assist the Tories electorally. This will surely have crossed Cam's mind?

Iain Lindley said...

It's all on the web Chris. Here are the Conservative counter-proposals in all their glory:

(a) The Bolton Borough ward of Hulton (No.13) be included in Bolton West CC;

(b) The Manchester City wards of Burnage (No.6) and Levenshulme (No.21) be included in Manchester, Withington BC;

(c) The Manchester City wards of Didsbury East (No.13) and Didsbury West (No.14) be included in a renamed Wythenshawe and Didsbury BC;

(d) The Manchester City wards of Gorton North (No.16), Gorton South (No.17) and Longsight (No.22) and the Tameside Borough wards of Audenshaw (No.4), Denton North East (No.5), Denton South (No.6), Denton West (No.7) and Dukinfield (No.10) be included in a renamed cross-borough Denton and Gorton BC;

(e) The Manchester City wards of Miles Platting and Newton Heath (No.23) and Moston (No.25) be included in a renamed Manchester, Blackley BC;

(f) The Manchester City wards of Rusholme (No.28) and Whalley Range (No.30) be included in Manchester Central BC;

(g) The Oldham Borough wards of Alexandra (No.1) and St Mary’s (No.17) be included in Oldham East and Saddleworth CC;
(h) The Oldham Borough wards of Hollinwood (No.9) and Medlock Vale (No.10) be included in Oldham West and Royton BC;

(i) The Rochdale Borough ward of Bamford (No.2) be included in Heywood and Middleton CC;

(j) The Rochdale Borough ward of Milnrow and Newhey (No.11) be included in Rochdale CC;

(k) The Salford City wards of Barton (No.1), Cadishead (No.4), Claremont (No.5), Eccles (No.6), Irlam (No.7), Pendlebury (No13), Swinton North (No.14), Swinton South (No.15) and Winton (No.19) be included in a renamed Eccles BC;

(l) The Salford City wards Broughton (No.3) and Kersal (No.9), and the Trafford Borough wards of Clifford (No.7), Gorse Hill (No.11) and Longford (No.14) be included in a renamed cross-borough Salford and The Quays BC;

(m) The Tameside Borough wards of Droylsden East (No.8), Droylsden West (No.9) and St Peter’s (No.17) be included in Ashton-under-Lyne BC;

(n) The Trafford Borough wards of Ashton upon Mersey (No.2), Brooklands (No.5), Priory (No.15) and Sale Moor (No.17) be included in a renamed Davyhulme BC;

(o) The Trafford Borough ward of Bucklow-St Martin’s (No.6) be included in a renamed Altrincham BC;

(p) The Wigan Borough wards of Astley Mosley Common (No.4), Atherton (No.6) and Tyldesley (No.21) be included in a cross-borough Worsley CC;

(q) The Wigan Borough wards of Hindley (No.10) and Hindley Green (No.11) be included in Leigh CC;

(r) The Wigan Borough ward of Ince (No.12) be included in Makerfield CC.

Iain Lindley said...

...and for comedy value only, the Salford Labour proposals:


(a) The Salford City wards of Barton (No.1), Cadishead (No.4), Eccles No.6), Irlam (No.7), Pendlebury (No.13), Swinton North (No.14), Swinton South (No.15) and Winton (No.19) be included in a renamed Eccles BC;

(b) The Salford City wards of Boothstown and Ellenbrook (No.2), Little Hulton (No.11), Walkden North (No.16), Walkden South (No.17) and Worsley (No.20), and the Wigan Borough wards of Astley Mosley Common (No.4), Leigh East (No.13) and Tyldesley (No.21) be included in a cross-borough Worsley CC;

(c) The Manchester City ward of Cheetham (No.8), and the Salford City wards of Broughton (No3), Claremont (No.5), Irwell Riverside (No.8), Kersal (No.9), Langworthy (No.10), Ordsall (No.12) and Weaste and Seedley (No.18) be included in a renamed Salford BC;

(d) The Manchester City wards of Ancoats and Clayton (No.1), Bradford (No.4), City Centre (No.11), Crumpsall (No.12), Harpurhey (No.18), Higher Blackley (No.19), Miles Platting and Newton Heath (No.23) and Moston (No.25) be included in a renamed Manchester North BC;

(e) The Manchester City wards of Ardwick (No.2), Fallowfield (No.15), Hulme (No.20), Levenshulme (No.21), Longsight (No.22), Moss Side (No.24), Rusholme (No.28) and Whalley Range (No.30) be included in Manchester Central BC;

(f) The Manchester City ward of Charlestown (No.7) be included in a cross-borough Oldham West and Royton BC;

(g) The Manchester City wards of Gorton North (No.16) and Gorton South (No.17) be included in a cross-borough Denton BC;

(h) The Oldham Borough ward of St Mary’s (No.17) be included in Oldham East and Saddleworth CC;

(i) The Tameside Borough ward of Dukinfield (No.10) be included in Stalybridge and Hyde CC;

(j) The Tameside Borough ward of St Peter’s (No.17) be included in Ashton-under-Lyne BC;

(k) The Wigan Borough wards of Hindley (No.10) and Hindley Green (No.11) be included in Leigh CC;

(l) The Wigan Borough ward of Ince (No.12) be included in Makerfield CC.

Iain Lindley said...

Thanks for the update Chris. However you are still insisting that the Conservatives were partisan at the BCE enquiry and Labour were squeaky-clean. You know very well that this isn't the case.

The Labour support for the BCE proposals was based on the fact that they were relatively favourable to Labour. Had that not been the case, then Labour would have put forward counter-proposals. They did at the last Boundary Review, where the cross-border Wythenshawe and Sale East was a result of a late counter-proposal by the Labour representatives.

Iain Lindley said...

Also of course, here in Salford the Conservative proposals were much closer to the status quo than the BCE recommendations. Swings and roundabouts...

Get A Grip said...

You really do need to stop taking those tablets, Chris. Surely you've been warned that one the side effects is paranoia.

The truth is that the electoral boundaries are already gerrymandered - in Labour's favour.

That's the view of most independent and rational observers (so I will excuse you for your ignorance on this).

If at the next election the Labour and Conservative parties get roughly the same number of votes then it is highly likely that Labour will end up with 80 more seats.

Now I personally think that's quite funny and ironic, but it certainly is not equitable or fair (or democratic).