Coffee House

Peers get ready to kill the boundaries bill

14 January 2013

Peers will vote shortly on an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill which could kill the boundary changes. Coffee House understands that there is no government whip on the issue, and the Lib Dems are being told to support the amendment from Labour’s Lord Hart which will delay the changes until 2018. A senior party source says:

‘They will be expected to vote for the amendment in line with the public position set out by Nick Clegg.’

The amendment will then move back to the Commons. The government’s attempts, reported over the weekend, to push the reforms through using minority parties have run aground after both the DUP and SNP said they would vote against the changes. There are also at least two Conservative MPs who will vote against: Glyn Davies and Philip Davies. At this stage, things will become rather more acrimonious, with many on the Tory side arguing that it undermines the whole principle of collective responsibility. But my source adds:

‘There is no issue of collective responsibility here because there is clearly no collective agreement and the two parties think completely different things. They do not have collective agreement and therefore collective responsibility does not apply.’

That won’t stop certain backbenchers using the vote to make their views on Nick Clegg’s party abundantly clear.

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  • McRobbie

    Sad that the lib dems have shown their lack of support for democracy, its another example of their supporters weak belief in principles. I can understand labour, they dont want to lose the gerrymandered position that currently favours them. The lib dem take their ball away in a huff over something that is not important to the electorate, the lords reform, in preference to something that is closer to the PR principle they have been banging on so much about, 1 vote per person being equal throughout the country. Who can ever believe the lib dems are a serious party now? Never mind the university fee saga, this is now damaging to democracy all thanks to the lib dems pettiness.

    • Andy

      The LibDems don’t keep their word – they are simply liars.

      As can be plainly seen the electoral system is massively gerrymandered in Labours favour. Even in 1997 Blair only got 13,518167 votes yet gained 418 seats. John Major got 14,093007 in 1992 and yet only gained 336 seats.

      In 2001 Blair got 10,724953 votes and 413 seats.
      In 2005 Blair got 9,552436 votes and 355 seats. (35.2% of the vote)

      in 2010 Cameron got 10,703654 votes but only 306 seats. (36.1% of the vote).

      So that shows Labour have a 50+ seat advantage built into the system.

      • LB


        This is why manifestos matter, and the public should have the final say.

        So, we all elect, first past the post, MPs, equal sized consituencies.

        We have the right of recall, so Labour voters can get rid of a thieving MP, without having to vote Tory or Lib Dem. (And vice versa).

        Then we abolish the unelected cronyism house of Lords. Sack the lot. No redundancy. That saves 150 million a year.

        Voter registration costs 100 million a year. Everyone gets to nominate an MP, any MP as their proxy. Lets say 20 million a year on top. The default is the local MP.

        You can change your proxy when you want. Something like 1 free change a year, or a fiver otherwise.

        When it comes to final passing of any bills, its proxy votes that count. e.g. 1 person 1 vote.

        Commit fraud as an MP? You lose your proxies.

        Lie about manifestos, you lose your votes.

        Unpopular government? You lose your votes.

        All it takes is one MP to set up a website, and you can have direct democracy.

        You could select pro green, high tax, or low tax, or any combination of policies.

        MPs have to lead, create the laws, and then try and convince people to vote.

        I suspect people would vote for low taxes, spending on schools, NHS, No foreign aid (not stopping you from sending your own money)

        ie. The manifesto as a package is irrelevant. Doing things not in the manifesto? You have to convince people. Doing things in the manifesto? You have to convince people.

        Eventually I would expect a popular referenda for bills to be introduced, but the interim is far far better than what we have now.

  • Framer

    Clegg favours inequality in democratic elections. That is the simple message. All the rest of his piffling (and expensive) proposed changes are shown to be hypocritical.

  • James S

    Let’s get this clear, the unjust gerrymandered rules are in face NOW, the government is seeking to redress the problem. Labour may want to object for understandable party political reasons, but to claim any sort of moral high ground on this is hogwash.

    • dalai guevara

      …as is the watering down of PR to AV.

      • francbanc

        That’s all they would have got from the Labour Party

    • 2trueblue

      Why Cameron does not stand up to his ‘partners’ I can not understand. The present system is wrong but the LibDums think that they have the right to play with democracy. Call an election, Cameron, that will sort out a lot of things and we could all move on.

  • LB

    Wirral West – 55,077 People

    Isle of White – 103,924.

    Sod the voters on the Isle of White, those on the Wirral want their money and more of a say

    • telemachus

      This is music to reasonable people
      The Tories cannot get to gerrymander any more seats

      And in case you think that is a leftist remark think on the fact that Tory Esther McVey would almost certainly not get back in if the constituency was enlarged to include some of the poor of Birkenhead or Wallasey

      • LB

        Except that the current set up is Gerrymandered in favour of Labour.

        I presume that’s what you want.

      • Chris lancashire

        Quite happy for one Tory MP to lose her seat in the cause of fairness.

      • kyalami

        Ah. A fairly basic mistake. Labour has the electoral advantage.

        By the way, if you look up gerrymander, it refers to the system in force in the USA, where boundaries within each state are decided by politicians, leading to bizarrely shaped constituencies as they seek to include bits here and there where their supporters are dominant.

        The changes suggested by the government have a profoundly democratic aim: to make votes roughly equal across the country by making most constituencies have roughly similar numbers of voters.

        Labour hates this because it would cost them seats and possibly the election. Consequently it is no surprise to find you trying to throw mud at the idea.

      • Sandy_Jamieson

        I think the proposal for West Wirral was to drop Upton (Very Labour Ward) and to add in Heswall (Safest Conservative Ward) with Parkgate and Neston (mainly Conservative Ward)

    • Chris lancashire

      Excellent illustration LB and underlines how badly we need boundary reform.

    • Andy

      Why not look at Rhondda 52862 and add Pontypridd 60275. Aberavon 51233 or the next seat Ogmore 55851. Or Aberconwy 45407 and Arfon 41138. How about Brecon 53882 and Carmarthen East 54557 or Ceredigion 56942.

      Oh and Isle of Wight is 110924.

      • LB

        In deed why not?

        OK, let me lay it out for the hard of thinking.

        Wirral voters get more of a say than Isle of Wight voters.

        In the interests of equality, shouldn’t people get an equal say?

        Or are you interested in discrimination?

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