Click logo to go to website

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The fun starts now - the squabbles over the parliamentary seats. What's the point if fewer people turn up to vote?

Boundary reconfiguration has always raised the political temperature – the term Gerrymandering was not coined for nothing.

So what makes things different this time? Well the backcloth is a Coalition government charting uncertain waters to 2015, 50 seat reductions and a short consultation process to retrieve the Boundary Commissioners’ proposals. In Wolverhampton, one of three seats is history.

There are past lessons about the dangers of superimposing boundary changes on existing geographical boundaries. Witness the unstable legacy we created in our colonial scramble for Africa.

Politics is tribal and the colonial metaphor should not be stretched too far, but in seeking fewer seats and creating more equitably-sized constituencies, we might have created unwelcome and unpredictable outcomes for councillors and MPs.

The electorate has an uncanny knack of letting politicians down. Although wards can be moved across boundaries, it does not follow that the voters, in their new home, act as they have in the past.

Voters’ angst may be raised. Activists may see things through their own prisms and not be at ease with newly constituted committees and party structures. They may feel resentment at being divorced from old personalities and loyalties. How will the voter feel if told to move from a constituency with an affective MP to one where there is a dud?

The message is clear – take care for what you wish and don’t underestimate an electorate which may resent being electoral munitions moved around a battlefield.

Perhaps we are getting worked up over nothing. Have just returned from dropping a few leaflets off for tomorrow’s ward election. Met a guy in the street who observed he wanted nothing to do with politics, was not going to vote for anyone and next year had no intention of being on the roll. For him and many others, boundaries are meaningless. That is the really big issue for Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. No point playing with boundaries if fewer people vote.

Of course, there is a silver lining. In the next couple of years we are going to see sitting MPs nursing relations with their constituents to secure their futures, and this Parliament has hardly gone off the ground yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?