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