Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Justin Madders has condemned the new electoral boundary redrawing, claiming that the proposals are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable as they are based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing.
The proposals will reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and are designed to ensure that all constituencies are of a more similar size than they are currently. One of the justifications for this is to “reduce the cost of politics;” however, Justin points out that the claimed saving of £12 million is dwarfed by the £34 million cost of the 260 extra Peers David Cameron appointed to the Lords. He also argues that at the same time the Tories have overseen a huge increase in the bill for politically appointed Special Advisers, totalling £45.8m since 2010.
The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 was passed to achieve the reduction, but the review of constituency boundaries to implement those changes was halted in 2013 because of disagreements within the Coalition. In their 2015 manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to implement the changes passed by Parliament in the 2011 Act. A new review by the Boundary Commission must be completed by October 2018. The Act provides that the electorate figures to be used are those in the version of the electoral register published on the ‘review date’. This is defined by the Act as the date two years and ten months before the review is required to report to the Government.
The total number on the register on 1st December 2015 was 44,722,004 compared to 46,475,882 on June 23rd 2016 – meaning around 2 million people have been missed out of this boundary review, nearly 4% of the entire register. Justin argues that this will created distorted seats and will mean that the original aim of equalising the number of voters in each constituency will not be properly met.
The new “Ellesmere Port & Neston” constituency will contain all of the same wards as its predecessor, other than the Chester Villages ward, which will transfer into the City of Chester. It will also gain the Eastham ward from the existing Wirral South constituency.
Commenting, Justin said:
“Whatever the Government says, we all know that this exercise is really about redrawing the electoral map to benefit the Conservatives.
“It even fails on their own definitions because 2 million voters are missing from the process, so it won’t deliver equal constituencies. And frankly, if the Tories were really serious about cutting the cost of politics, they’d stop appointing so many of their donors and friends to the House of Lords.
“I reject the principle of this exercise as a whole and I’ll do everything that I can do oppose it. The only saving grace is that the constituency remains intact and we are spared the abomination of Mersey Banks.”