The Parliamentary Boundary review – When numbers became more important than community

Published On October 21, 2012 » 1243 Views» Gloucester, Politics

A relative of mine has a blunt but true saying, a turd that is dressed up is still a turd.  That is how I feel about this parliamentary review result.  Richard Graham is overjoyed that his proposal has been put forward as the final proposal to cut the number of residents in the Gloucester constituency.   Eagerly telling the press how overjoyed he is, having retained the “crown jewels” of the City, but neglecting to empathise with those residents in Hempsted who, he has literally just sold down the river.  The Lib Dem’s are saying it doesn’t matter because as they lost the Lords reform then they will scupper the boundary review, but I think residents of Hempsted will remember with just how much glee, the MP was willing to cast them out.  

I particularly loved the part where he now enlightens us that if it had not worked, he would have resigned from Government.   Such an easy thing to publicise widely once the decision has been made.  Pity he didn’t make a bit deal of that before the announcement, more people might have had some more motivation to submit opinions.

This was always a “dirty” problem, was no good solution that would fit exactly with the boundary commission guidance, but I do think that the currently accepted proposal is storing up problems for the future if it does go ahead, the numbers a so tight and the envisaged growth (as defined in the City Plan and JCS) will mean a review in 5 years time anyway because the 5% margin will be breached, therefore incurring more cost then.  That is why my preferred solution was a No-Change situation as we are not losing any MP’s in Gloucestershire therefore for all this cost, all we have got are disenfranchised residents.

What strikes me though is the focus on numbers in all this.  The Government is determined to make all constituencies equal number because of national party politics but to my mind (and yes I know I have said this before) this is wrong.  The whole idea of grouping together under an MP is that they should represent similar grouping of people, IE the Gloucester MP should represent the City residents and if there is too many, then split it into two, not hive off suburbs to rural areas.  It is completely missing the point of community representation.

So when you hear the Tory machine crowing about how they have saved Gloucester,  especially if the Lib Dem’s break another promise and do let this through in Parliament,  ask yourself who did this actually serve, the residents of Hempsted or a statistical figure pulled out of the air?  IF you think this is wrong, you can still comment (http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/) upto the 10th December.

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2 Responses to The Parliamentary Boundary review – When numbers became more important than community

  1. Joe K says:

    Could you show us a picture of Graham displaying this ‘glee’, Barry, so we can be assured that you haven’t just fallen into the habit shared by lazy politicians, of hyperbole? I probably want our under-achieving MP out at the next election as much, if not more, than you do, but not at the expense of the absolute truth…

    I had a similar view to you, re your second but last paragraph, but then I realised that splitting the city into Gloucester North and Gloucester South, while it would certainly solve the problem of boundaries for the forseeable future, was against the chief thrust of the proposals, to reduce the number of MPs, something we should all be able to get behind. And I really don’t think that ‘the Government is determined to make all constituencies equal number because of national party politics’. It’s a nice idea that MPs should represent identifiable groups of people, regardless of their number, but to use argumentum ab absurdum, a notional ‘MP for London’ would surely expect his/her vote to count for more than the MP for Gloucester (and perhaps even an ‘MP for Gloucestershire’?), so districts are divvied up according to population, and when populations don’t change uniformly, we get these problems. If votes were to be weighted, it would be even more complicated, and probably not unlike the unions having block votes (and were those eminently reasonable chappies behind the booing of Ed Miliband yesterday?).

    So it’s a mess that everyone tried to make political capital out of, but the people who come out of this smelling less of sloganeering cant are the ones who continue to display a sense of perspective.

  2. Barry says:

    The “overjoyed” was how he was described on BBC Radio Gloucestershire (and ITV I think) when it broke.

    I think the difference here is that I would prefer to have a greater number of MP’s and effective represent ion, or a cut down to a number of MPS that are determined by need, rather than an arbitrary number. I think the idea that you represent identifiable groups much more important than having equal numbers. For me this is effective representation. At the end of the day, Parliament is supposed to exist for fair representation not the convenience of numbers. Though that does need reinforced elsewhere in the system too, not just in this issue.

    I agree that splitting the city doesn’t work, which is why I think that largely Gloucestershire should have been left alone rather than mess things around for the sake of it (though you do have the issues over Longlevens etc).

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