08 August 2012

The Boundary Changes Were Always Unfair And I'm Glad They Will Be Defeated.

As predicted the Tories have scuppered Lords Reform. Admittedly Clegg's bill wasn't the best, but as always with the slow progess of constitutional change, it was a step in the right direction.

To defend unelected lawmakers, as the Tory right now have, shows a disgraceful contempt for the principle of democracy, and we should remember that they have effectively argued in favour of dictatorial rule. Typical.

Less talked about in such terms, but a far bigger constitutional change than either AV or Lords Reform are the new boundary proposals.

This is not some minor adjustment that periodically takes place, as some commentators have claimed, but a massive hacking job on recognised community based constituencies into a system similar to the US where districts have numbers because naming them no longer makes any sense.

So we have a Gloucester constituency absurdly without the cathedral and town centre, part of Brighton lumped in with Lewes, countless slices of big urban areas merged with countryside crossing county boundaries. No link between local authority and constituency, voters more confused than ever, and with more frequent reviews no end in sight to the upheaval.

The precise enlargement of constituencies has been decided by Tory HQ, not the boundary commission or voters. The power to dictate how boundaries are drawn can overide the wishes of millions of votes. This is why this voting system is so corrupt.

This is not about being "fair" to the Tories as some have claimed. They got 47% of seats with 36% of the vote in 2010, these changes will give them even more seats.

And even this statistic hides the fact that a lot of voters sit on their hands in despair at a system where most seats are decided before the votes are counted and even more voters feel forced to choose between Labour and Tory to make their vote stand a chance of counting, rather than being free to vote for whomever they really want.

So, yes Lords Reform and Boundary changes were not explicitly linked in the coalition agreement, but constitutional change in the British tradition is inevitably piecemeal and partizan. The Tories have spite the Lib Dem face, the Lib Dems have cut off the Tory nose.

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