Labour are the ones who support "Gerrymandering"

Mike Smithson of "Political Betting makes the following good point in response to Jack Straw's ridiculous charge that the coalition's attempts to make the electoral system fairer are "Gerrymandering."

"Every so often I find myself having to explain to non-election anoraks why it is that Labour can secure an overall majority with 2.7% more votes while the Tories need a margin of 11.2%.

Generally their eyes glaze over as I talk about differential turnouts etc but the point they grasp instantly is that Labour-held seats have, on average, smaller electorates than Tory or LD-held ones.

This is one of the things that on the face of it seems unfair and that should be put right. It’s hard to argue against.

So I wonder whether Mr. Jack Straw has made a mistake in making the Coalition move to create equal-sized constituencies the reason why Labour will oppose the electoral reform bill that includes this and the AV referendum?

For it looks as if he’s trying to find any reason to wiggle out of Labour’s manifesto commitment on the alternative vote and in doing do is allowing it to be portrayed as seeking to continue an unfair system for its own narrow advantage.

Using the “gerrymandering” charge, in particular, is over the top and inaccurate."

Quite. You can read the full post here.


Anonymous said…
So the ConDems are going to change electoral boundaries for every election to keep equal-sized constituencies? Of course your not it would be a total waste of taxpayers money.
Chris Whiteside said…
I didn't say we would, and neither has the government.

Up to now this country has held boundary reviews approximately every ten years. I have seen no suggestion that the bill which is due to be published in the near future will propose anything different after the initial review on the new basis.

What changes is that when boundary reviews do take place, starting later this parliament, having the constituencies much closer in number of electors will be a more important part of the Boundary Commission's remit.
Jane said…
It is not unexpected that Labour now accuses the Tories of Gerrymandering.

In terms of an artificial constituency that does not represent or allow a voice for the people, Copeland is a classic example. What has emerged under the previous Labour regime has accentuated and highlighted the situation here.

Urban areas with a concentrated population wipe out the representation of larger geographical areas and sparsely populated regions which have a concentration of people whose life-styles, interests both cultural and economic are worlds away from the likes of Whitehaven and Workington. Urban areas overwhelm the rural communities. I observed when ballot boxes where opened that villages with 100-200 populaces were voting 90% + Conservative, but districts like Mirehouse with larger populations were predominantly Labour. Urban majorities in Whitehaven and Workington edit people in Keswick, rural villages and farming communities out of the political representation process.

I am not saying the urban areas should not be represented, but the set up should not exclude what have become the rural fringes. An electoral system that allows Workington and Whitehaven to return an MP and also allows rural Copeland to return an MP would be far more representative. Clearly the rural area (south and east of Whitehaven/Workington would be larger geographically, but would incorporate a significant number of the Cumbrian populace. Millom would still be out on a limb but I guess it would become part of Furness in terms of geographical population. No system is perfect and some will always feel left out. However how it stands now is clearly biased against sparsely populated rural communities and it needs reforming.

It is rich that Labour accuse Tories of Gerrymandering. In the last election Tories got the same proportion of the vote that gave Mrs Thatcher's Government a comfortable majority. After an incompetent Labour administration Conservative election campaigners had to be constantly reminded by Mr Pickles about the hard job we had getting a sufficient swing to give the country a Conservative Government. Whilst in Labour strongholds there was a swing away from Labour they could still command a majority and deny the Conservatives a majority nationwide. Hence the necessity of establishing a Coalition Government.

Irrespective of the inability to get an overall Conservative majority the people still sent out the message that they did not want a Labour Government. Hopefully the review of boundaries will allow for greater representation for rural areas.

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