Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is a process undertaken by Political Parties to gain a political advantage over their rivals by manipulating the boundaries.

gerrymandering

So today the Tories announced the result of their boundary review which confirmed parliament will be reduced from 650 seats to 600 seats. This breaks down as 533 to 501 in England, from 40 to 29 in Wales, from 59 to 53 in Scotland and from 18 to 17 in Northern Ireland. The biggest losers appear to be Labour (no surprise there) with Jeremy Corbyn’s seat being abolished, as is , George Osbournes. Reports suggest that the areas set to lose the least seats are Conservative ones (another surprise, not) and those losing the most are in Wales which is predominantly Labour and Liberal areas and to think the Liberals helped get this through during the coalition, idiots. The SNP based on the results of the last election would lose 6 seats

The Electoral Reform Society criticised the decision to base the new boundaries on registered voters, rather than the actual population, saying this “risks skewing our democracy”. The SNP constitutional affairs spokesperson, Pete Wishart MP, said: “This reduction seems to be completely arbitrary and will hit Scotland particularly hard.There is no science behind this, just rushed reforms by a Tory government who do not care about the impact this will have on rural areas where MPs are already stretched.” Labour’s Jon Ashworth has said that “This proposal is certainly about disadvantaging the Labour party in the next general election,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “That’s why they’ve gone from 650 seats to 600 – by the way, at the same time stuffing the House of Lords with 260 unelected lords at a cost of £30m, but they don’t tell us about that.”

The simple fact is that these changes are intended to benefit the Conservatives at the cost of mainly the Labour Party in England but also the Liberals Democrats who could end up with only 4 seats and the SNP would also be weakened. Labour have gerrymandered in the past so are not blameless in this and in some ways shouting about it is a bit rich. However, under first past the post it just makes the system more rigged, as pointed out in the report Fifty Years of Bias in the UK’s Electoral System. In 1979, the Conservative party won 43.9 per cent of the votes cast and 53.4 per cent of the seats. Four years later, it won 42.4 per cent of the votes but 61.1 per cent of the seats. In 1987, its shares of the votes and seats were 43.4 and 57.8 per cent respectively, and then in 1992 its vote share fell slightly, to 42.3 per cent, but its share of the seats fell more sharply to 51.6 per cent. Labour won in 1997, with 43.3 per cent of the votes and 63.6 per cent of the seats.

We are looking at Conservative rule in Scotland for years and years to come as the number of votes cast do not reflect the seats won. It’s all a con and makes proportional representation all the more vital for the future of politics in the UK. Here in Scotland, today’s report should focus minds because the choice is even more important for no voters, if you vote no in any future referendum you might as well vote Tory irrespective of which party you support because any no vote in the future is a vote for the Tories, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

 

 

 

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9 comments

  1. tris

    In fairness to the Lib-Dems, if my memory serves me, they wouldn’t agree to this, which is why it had to be left till the Tories had a majority. It wasn’t for reasons of principle, but because the Tories had blocked Clegg’s idiotic reforms for the House of Lords. Tit for tat.

    Typically for the Tories they are reducing the democratic representation, while at the same time increasing the size of the ridiculously antiquated and undemocratic House of Lords.

    The whole system is hideously broken, and Nick Clegg’s HUGE mistake, and betrayal of, not just Liberal Democrat voters, but all people interested in a democracy, was to bend the knee to Cameron over the referendum on voting systems.

    The current system ins a joke. To use it against the SNP: they had 50% of the vote at the UK election and got 92% of the seats.

    That’s a joke.

    You can never get it bang on but they should have had no more than 55% and no less that 45% of the seats on that vote.

    If you add Privy Councils and royal prerogative and and bishops into the mix, the Uk really is like some sort of middle ages autocracy.

    • Anonymous

      Tris

      You are correct they voted against the motion when Cameron shafted them on the reduction of the house of Lords but voted for the equalization of constituents which paved the way for the act in the first place and I think this changed the rules for the boundary commission and without it they boundary changes could not have taken place. I think that is how it went.

      Your correct though the whole system is broken and I believe we need PR to start to fix it. Of course Labour and the Tories will never go for PR as it doesn’t serve their interests in that it would bring the potential of coalition more often and smaller parties holding the balance of power, this just means we will continue to suffer a system that gives us governments that we did not vote for. The system is only fit for the middle ages and is plainly a con.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  2. Brian

    two different subjects…the voting system and this new boundary review. Can I ask, when it says “registered voters”, does this mean that there could be thousands of potential voters who could easily register before next GE, thus negating the whole premise of this review? Apologies for my ignorance.

  3. tris

    Yes Brian, I realise that. I was commenting on the fact that the whole system was broken.

    I made mention in the first paragraph that the Liberals had in fact not been responsible for this gerrymandering exercise as they refused to back it, in a huff because Cameron wouldn’t brook any change to the idiotic house of aristos, which Clegg proposed. Clegg’s scheme was a travesty in any case, with people being elected for 15 years among his batshit mad proposals.

    The removal of a disproportionate number of opposition seats is just a part of a hopelessly outmoded system which starts with an hereditary monarch, a privy council and a house of peers and bishops.

    If the UK operated in the 20th century it would be a laughing stock. In the 21st century it is beyond parody.

    • Anonymous

      Brian

      It really is just a con, Clegg was useless like Rennie continues to be useless and Farron following in the same tradition. Cameron has bolted having made everything worse here, in Syria and in Libya and now we have a voting change to boundaries that virtually guarantee Tory rule forever in Scotland. We never really influenced the make up at Westminster, now we never will. We have been well and truly conned, or the no voters have but their stupidity has let us all down and really left us up shit creek. I don’t see where anyone can advocate anything other than a yes vote now.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  4. Anonymous

    Also going on at local elections in Dundee now

    2012 election SNP got 44.8% of votes cast yet have a big majority of seats, were going to change boundaries that would help rectify this but were shunned after it would make it much more difficult to get a majority.

    Goes on with all parties so while yes the Tories and Labour have done this I would appreciate you to recognise that it has also went on by other parties to in the interests of fair and unbiased blogging.

    • grumpyscottishman

      Anon

      The SNP have welcomed the decision not to change the Broughty Ferry booundary after the objection on 971 local residents, local people have welcomed the decision and I have no doubt most people are happy. Was this done for the purpose of gerrymandering I don’t know but I accept that all the parties are at it. I am not a member of any party and I was looking at this nationally rather than locally. As I made clear I would prefer to see proportional representation in all elections and replace STV / alternative vote etc. The Liberals made a mess of local democracy with multi member wards which I suspect was designed to increase their representation but it didn’t really work, well not in Dundee but either way nationally the system is broken and needs to be replaced with a democractic system for this century.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

    • grumpyscottishman

      bjsalba

      All a con to keep the Tories in power forever and no voters better be prepared and happy for that. We are looking at the Tories winning the next two election at least and that would be 20 years of Tory Government that we didn’t vote for. Thanks for the link, I’ve put it into my favs as it looks like an excellent well researched blog.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

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