Coffee House

Tory MP mulls boundaries rebellion

22 December 2012

In spite of the best efforts of its ministers in the Lords, it looks as though the government is going to face a vote on the dreaded boundaries legislation early next year, with the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill returning to the Upper Chamber in January.

The big story is that the Lib Dems will be able to kick the reforms away until 2018 using an amendment, but it isn’t just the members of the smaller Coalition party who will be rebelling against government policy. Tory MP Glyn Davies has now come out as an opponent of the reforms, too. On his blog, he writes that he is ‘contemplating voting against my government for the first time’ for a number of reasons. The first is that he never believed the proposal to reduce the number of MPs was a sensible one, and secondly the proposals for boundary reforms in Wales were ‘even worse than I had imagined’, with ‘catastrophic’ consequences for mid Wales. He adds:

‘So what do I do if, as is rumoured I am faced with a crucial vote on the issue next month. If passed, the Montgomeryshire I have known man and boy would be no more. The new constituencies that touch on mid Wales will have population centres elsewhere. My local party association is so horrified by the implications of the proposals that it has told me in no uncertain terms that they want me to oppose the new boundaries. And at a personal level, I would hate to see all the work we have done to build our Association in Montgomeryshire disappear in a cloud of angry blue smoke – because I believe those who have done this transformational work will not carry on. The outcome would be so horrific that I simply couldn’t carry on either. The principles which underpin an MP’s work are country first, party second and self third – and this change will end Parliamentary democracy in mid Wales as we know it.

‘I face some choice. If I vote for the new boundaries, I will be turning my back on all I’ve worked for in public life and all those I’ve worked with in Montgomeryshire. If I vote against them by joining Labour in the lobbies, I will be turning my back on the Party I support. This is something to chew over when I’ve finished with the turkey bones. Looks like plenty of indigestion this Christmas.’

There are certainly other Tory MPs who were rather relieved when Nick Clegg announced he would slay the boundary changes as a revenge for the failure of Lords reform. The consequences for Davies are that he won’t get a job in the government this side of 2015, but it’s easier for him to rebel when the legislation is already doomed without the support of Clegg’s party. But the consequences for the government of the junior coalition partner voting down a policy that its MPs have already approved will be far more damaging to the government than the demise of one MP’s career trajectory.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    That’s three wheels off the waggon now.
    I wonder how much longer the rickety contraption being driven by Cameron and Clegg, with two sets of horses pulling in different directions, will keep rolling along.
    I can’t see it lasting to May 2015.

  • Daniel Maris

    While we are on electoral reform, let me put forward a proposal for “virtual constituencies” – maybe to replace the House of Lords.

    Why don’t we have constituencies for a representative assembly to replace the House of Lords: 100,000 voters per constituency ? So any voters who can get another 99,999 electors (wherever in the UK) to join them can appoint a person to represent them.

    Of course people would get organised. Maybe doctors and medical professionals would organise to get a representative. Maybe motorists would. No doubt political parties would try. It would be a nice free for all I think.

    • HooksLaw

      Why not just not have a house of Lords?

  • UKIP for change

    The fact is,we have a situation where we have 2 main political parties.One of these parties needs a 3% lead to gain a majority,the other 11%.This is just wrong,and needs fixing.

    • kyalami


      • Jeremy Poynton

        Which is why the LibDems are such a bunch of arseholes. Because they have been stopped from changing one of the few institutions in the country that actually does a good job, they are prepared to give Labout a big boost in 2015. LibDems – the enemies of democracy. Hopefully they will be crushed. I may even vote in the hope of getting rid our our MP David Heath, who seemed OK until the LibDems got into power – now he’s just a party robot.

        • Coffeehousewall

          They are almost all party robots

    • Coffeehousewall

      Do we have any sense of the bias for/against UKIP

  • Andy

    There is no excuse for having seats of such widely different sizes. This Guy is moaning about Montgomeryshire. Well block it together with either of the two seats to which it abuts and it is still smaller than the Isle of Wight. You should just take a look at the list -:

    • David Lindsay

      It depends what you think that Parliament is for.

      A parliamentary constituency really ought to reflect some sort of community on the ground, wouldn’t you have thought? And Montgomeryshire is a very ancient community on the ground. There are many, many others.

      Whatever happened to Toryism?

      • HooksLaw

        Spoken like somebody whose party greatly benefits from the currently grossly biased constituency boundaries.

        • David Lindsay

          I am not a member of any political party. Whereas you seem to be a very active member of the one that cannot be doing too badly, considering that its Leader is the Prime Minister.

          Not for the first time, though, an issue presents itself which causes one to ask, “Conservative of what, exactly?” Glyn Davies, a provincial farming Tory rather than some boy from Policy Exchange or the IEA, obviously feels the same way. Rightly so.

          See here –

          • HooksLaw

            I did not say you were a member of any political party. I am not either. I object to you spouting self serving cobblers. Labour currently benefit from the badly drawn unfair boundaries s you well know. Your omissions shows you to be a prejudiced bigot.
            Any notion you have that I am remotely interested in reading your blog is farcical. The last thing this country needs is more socialists spouting their rubbish.

  • wobble

    He got that wrong
    More like ” the principles that underpin an MP’s work are personal advancement first, friends and sources of income second, party third, and the bloody country is an utter irrelevance””
    Its not a disaster for mid Wales , just one for the incumbent , all those favours ,all that networking, all that schmoozing, all that pork barrel, all now in the wrong direction…….
    Makes me laugh, anyway !

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep, I doubt anyone thought he was acting in the national interest! LOL

  • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

    This legislation was always possibly Cameron least explicable. With a growing population and electorate the last thing you want to do to give ‘power to the people’ is reduce the number of their representatives. How can reducing numbers give you better individual representation? That is exactly what Cameron proposed for England It is a democratic nonsense and was born out of Cameron’s seemingly constant need to posture (unless he saw it as yet another device to remove troublesome MPs and do a bit of gerrymandering on the side?).

    With a growing electorate and population you need to periodically increase representation or democracy is slowly undermined. Arguably, in part, the reason why Westminster is a shambles is that they have not increased the number of MPs despite their being something in excess of a 10% rise in the population. Now even taking account of the botched devolution arrangements imposed by Labour strictly speaking to ensure the same quality of democracy we should be talking about something close to 700 representatives being sent to Parliament (or alternatively England should be recognised and given devolved powers). Not undertaking such increases already undermines the quality of our democracy. Actively cutting the number or representative by 50 is an outright insult to add to what is already and injury to our democracy.

    As a result this legislation deserves the contempt of MPs and should be voted down. It is the democratic thing to do!

    • HooksLaw

      Are you saying 600 MPs are not enough? Your argument is risible.

      • Daniel Maris

        I think UK must have probably the smallest area constituencies, by population, in the world. Glad to be contradicted. Perhaps Leichtenstein has smaller.

        • HooksLaw

          I do not know about constituency size but the BBC list population per elected representative as
          1. UK – 91,500
          2. Italy – 92,200
          3. France – 104,700
          4. Canada – 105,500
          5. Australia – 132,700

          France has 577 ‘MPs’ – a massive 73 less than us.
          Germany has 622 ‘MPs’ – 28 less than us.
          Italy has 630 ‘MPs’ – 20 less than us.
          Spain (population 47 million) has 350 MPs

    • Andy

      Nonsense. We need two things: one is an English Parliament with exactly the same powers as that in Scotland. We all know why Labour wouldn’t create one. Secondly we then need a much reduced House of Commons which would deal with all none devolved matters. That would probably have much larger seats than is presently proposed.

      • alexsandr

        ‘That would probably have much larger seats than is presently proposed.’ that will be not Nicholas Soames then?

  • UKIPfor change

    This is huge.I expected the coalition to end in October 2013,due to the boundary vote.But now it could be over in January or shortly after.Remember this is Government legislation.When tory junior ministers voted against the HOL reform,they were sacked or were made to resign.You can’t have one rule for one,and not the other.All the tory front bench voted for HOL reform.

    If the Lib dems kill boundary reform,they are stopping Government legislation.Which ever way you slice it.

    The next question is this.If the boundary question is dead in January,what is the point of keeping an increasingly out-of-touch Cameron as leader? Cameron couldn’t get a majority against Brown,when Labour scored just 29% of the vote.One of it’s lowest score’s in a century.He has no chance on current boundaries against Miliband polling 40+% in opinion polls.

    • HooksLaw

      UKIPfor a return of a labour govt and closer integration with Europe’

      • UKIP for change


        I will quote Cameron ‘I will NEVER! vote to leave the EU’

        So even if the EU create the USE(their stated aim) Cameron would still want to be in the EU.

        • HooksLaw

          So – millions will vote never to leave the EU, not least because there is no real difference to being OUT than IN.
          Spare us your bigoted propagandist lying prejudice.

          Your ignorance – or mis it your lying propaganda is monumental. The EU will soon have to launch into a new treaty for

          • UKIP for change

            Well this isn’t a thread about the EU,but OK!

            The UK is the number one export destination for the ENTIRE! Eurozone.

            Who in the EU is the largest trade partner for the UK? Germany,France,Italy,Spain……..NO! 4.4M million people in the Republic of Ireland.After 40yrs in the EU club!! If all the pro EU crowd can come up with is scare stories about trade.No wonder you don’t want a real debate,with facts and figure’s

            As for being ‘bigoted propagandist’ what,for quoting the PM?

            • dalai guevara

              So the best way to sell more stuff to your trading partners is to …exit the club?

              Hahahahaa, you get the joker prize of the week.

              • Boudicca_Icenii

                China seems to be managing it without having its laws made by unelected foreigners in another country.
                So can we.

                • HooksLaw

                  How thick is that? Very thick I suggest.

                • Coffeehousewall

                  Your thickness is consistently underestimated.

                • dalai guevara

                  So in an import/export scenario, you wish to take the Chinese position? Where are the sweat shops, how would you like your mercury and other polutants, shaken or stirred?

                  Hahahahahaaa, this is getting even better!

              • Colonel Mustard

                Actually the greatest increase in UK export sales is to countries outside the EU. And in 2011 that already represented over 77% of the total value of exports to EU countries. Besides the degree to which UK exports to EU countries are dependent on EU membership is almost impossible to quantify. The benefits of EU membership are often stated as a presumption but seldom backed up by quantifiable data.

                • dalai guevara

                  I like your stats, so EU trade is still BY FAR the biggest chunk to any single market – I gather that is what your saying. I know it’s hard but perhaps just say it, and then read my first post again – out loud perhaps 😉

                • Colonel Mustard

                  They are not “my” stats but HMRC’s. And they are what they are. They can be articulated in various ways, including yours. My comment was only a clarification of your misleading one that EU countries are our “most important trading partners” for which you have absolutely no evidence that is dependent on EU membership anyway.

                • dalai guevara

                  If money was not important then you might be right, but until the largest chunk of trade goes to and comes from one single market, then THAT MARKET turns out to be (like magic) the most important one – evidently. Believing that the competition element within the EU (OJEU/TED tender process etc) are better accessed from the outside than from the inside can only be made by a person who does not do any business. What do you do?

                  PS: quantifiable data:
                  the above tenders are only open to member of…you get the idea?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  There we go again with the personal presumptions and questions. None of your business dalai snooper and no burden on my right to comment or hold opinions. Why are you lefties so desperate to control what everyone thinks?

                  PS Evidence of protective tenders (which are competitive) is not evidence of trade because you simply cannot evidence how much of the export market to EU countries is dependent on EU membership. How many UK companies submitted tenders, what was their combined value and how many were successful? Etc.

                • dalai guevara

                  Go and find out for yourself – rest assured it is not peanuts. When people comment on business matters with no apparent clue about how international business really works, then you may remain in the background spouting out your inconclusive argument. It’s not even that, you do not have an argument, just emotionally tinted half knowledge.

                • Coffeehousewall

                  Agreed. We don’t need to be part of a political and economic union to trade with it.

            • HooksLaw

              So you want to be outside the EU and outside the EU’s tariff barrier and all its trading rules? it does not matter who is our largest trading partner, if they are inside an EU tariff barrier then our trade and employment will suffer.

              If you want to be outside the EU but inside its tariff barrier we will have to be in the single market and agree to and abide by EU rules. Like Norway and Switzerland. In other words being OUT of the EU is no different to being IN and the entire UKIP philosophy is built on a tissue of lies.

              And in any case what gives you the right to put millions of UK jobs at risk based on mere speculation. It seems, according to German sources in 2007, that roughly 14% of British imports came from Germany and 10% of British exports went to Germany in 2009. About half of our trade is with the EU (bigots on both sides twist this), the USA is our next biggest market .
              In 2011 Germany France Netherlands were ahead of Ireland as export markets (with whom we we share a land border). (HMRC)

              Your assertion that we can easily survive exit from the EU and total exclusion from its single market is utter ignorant cobblers. No referendum will pass on that basis.

              • Colonel Mustard

                If what you believe is persuadable then there is no reason not to hold a referendum. The reality is that you and your fellow travellers are scared of getting the wrong result and therefore argue against holding a referendum in the first place.

                Personally I doubt that exiting from the nascent federal state of Europe would exclude the UK from its markets. Just as much as I doubt that membership would allow reform from within. It’s a bureaucratic monster.

                • Slim Jim

                  Correct. It’s odd how the supporters of the EUSSR simply refer to it as a trading bloc, yet no mention of the unaccountability and democratic deficit involved in the political aspects. The vicious put-downs give their game away.

                • HooksLaw

                  The Eurozone is resulting in political aspects. Conservatives voted against the Lisbon treaty and are opposed to entry to the Eurozone and do not want to sign up to the future fiscal union treaty.

                  Fiscal union will inevitably result in closer political union. This may or may not be a good bad or indiferent thing but we are not going to be part of it. Unless we have a Labour govt.

                  The democratic issues are overstated but are important. Free Trade agreements always involve meeting common standards to some degree – take a look at what’s involved in the EU Canadian agreements. The EU has no hold over our foreign and military policy. That is decided by NATO.
                  The ECHR is not the EU, we founded it and UK citizens have always been able to appeal to it.

                  There are no games involved. The only fantasies come from UKIP loony tunes.

                • HooksLaw

                  Correct there is no reason not to hold a referendum. There will be one in due course when the EU (Eurozone) creates its new de facto political union treaty.
                  The point of a referendum is it needs to be based on something which has been agreed, that we can then agree or disagree on.
                  In this case the referendum will be based on whatever comes out of these arrangement because we will not be part of them. Well unless UKIP activity results in a Lab or LabLib govt that is.

                  However to say that the referendum should simply be ‘in-out’ is disingenuous to the point of lying. In being OUT of the EU we would still want access to the single market and this would still mean implementing thousands of EU regulations.

                  This may or may not be better for us, but the difference is marginal – hardly worth handing over govt to a Europhile Labour Party..

                  Its possible we would end up like Norway, its also possible we would get a better deal and still have some say in single market issues and be in the EU but at a distance. But the EU will not go away and the issue UKIP loons ignore is that we one way or another need a n agreement with it.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “The point of a referendum is it needs to be based on something which has been agreed, that we can then agree or disagree on.”

                  Surely the point of a referendum is to determine the wishes of the majority before something is agreed, like the Lisbon Treaty? That was agreed on behalf of the British people by Brown without a referendum and the implications were such that Cameron would have been justified in calling for the ratification to be declared illegal and/or repealed. His pre-election promises implied that. Again and again the British have been denied choice on the grounds that the measures being agreed do not warrant it and we are now in a position where the sovereignty of our parliament has been surrendered and our borders are open to economic migration on a scale that will be unsustainable. Not only is that contrary to our laws and constitution but the British people have never been asked to agree to it.

                • alexsandr

                  where does this rubbish that we have to implement EU regs if we are not in the EU. come from?. I am not aware china or indonesia implement EU regs, why the hell should an independant UK? They cant block our exports cos of world trade agreements, and anyway they would still want to export to us so they would not have a hissey fit if we don’t make the writing on the box the right size or some other nonsense regulation

        • Coffeehousewall

          Cameron cannot be trusted with the nation.

      • Austin Barry

        So what if UKIP causes the poison chalice to pass to Labour?

        Another term will probably destroy the socialists, while the Tory Party will atrophy and UKIP will rise inexorably. The LibDems will vanish and, ominously, Respect will go from strength to strength driving even more voters to UKIP.

        • Robert Castlereagh

          Am I in a different country?
          In my country everything is fudged. Labour will get back in. It will be a shorter time before Miliband is knifed for Burnham. Balls will be consigned to a school for imbecilic stammered. Labour will be turfed out after 2 terms and in 2025 we will have a reinvigorated Tory party back in. Then we will have a referendum which will be inconclusive, the Tory right will declare war. A struggling Ukip will be reinvigorated and then……

        • D B

          I love fairy stories.

        • Coffeehousewall

          Principle matters. Expediency excuses every evil.

  • David Lindsay

    It has always boggled the mind that ostensible heirs of Burke could have had any truck whatever with this proposal.

    But if 500 MPs were to be elected from constituencies each containing as near as possible to one fifth of one per cent of the electorate, then another 104 could be elected by each of the English ceremonial counties, the Scottish lieutenancy areas, the Welsh historic counties (one of which is Montgomeryshire) and the Northern Irish counties.

    That might even help the Tories. In any year other than 2015, anyway.

    • HooksLaw

      104? last time I looked there were about 40 traditional English counties. Are you seriously saying that electoral fairness would be met by also incorporating the 33 Scottish counties and the 13 Welsh counties. These areas are already over represented.

      • David Lindsay

        There are 48 English ceremonial counties (if you wanted to use the older boundaries, then you would greatly disadvantage your own side by including Newcastle and North Tyneside in Northumberland, Birmingham in Warwickshire, great tracts of London in the adjacent counties, and so on), 35 Scottish lieutenancy areas, 13 historic Welsh counties (not the eight Preserved Counties, some of which have older names, but which are really newer), and of course six Northern Irish counties.

        So my mistake, 102. Duly corrected. Each of those has a reasonable claim, and usually a great deal more than that, to be an organic community, such as Parliament was originally intended to represent. In stark contrast to the hundreds of horrors proposed in this Bill. Not for the first time, I am bound to ask, “Conservative of what, exactly? Have these people ever read a word of Toryism, rather than the (Liberal) New Right of the 1970s?”

        • HooksLaw

          Giving Rutland the same representation as Leicestershire hardly seems fair and grossly over representing Scotland likewise.

          I miss the old counties and it was a mistake to reform local government in the way it was done. That is nothing to do with parliamentary elections.

          • Stuart Eels

            This isn’t dear David’s aim at all, check him out and check out some of his witterings.

  • Molly

    “the proposals for boundary reforms in ales were ‘even worse than I had imagined’”

    The mind boggles……..

Can't find your Web ID? Click here