British MPs from the governing Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties are threatening “rebellion” against new electoral district boundaries, The Independent reports.
Plans for redistricting are being published, and several senior MPs could see their districts combined with those of other MPs, or substantially changed. The proposal is part of the plan to cut the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600.
Labour, which accuses the Coalition of gerrymandering, will oppose the changes. Both the Tories and Liberal Democrats accept they face rebellion from disgruntled MPs – in the form both of Commons votes and parliamentary wrecking tactics.
The new districts, and their likely impact, only underscore what a bad deal the LibDems brokered on political reform, one of their signature issues. They got their referendum on the Alternative Vote, and in exchange, the Conservatives demanded and won this review of districts and assembly size. Of course, the referendum was defeated badly, but the new districts are likely to go ahead anyway.1 Failing to agree on some version of this plan would put the LibDems in breach of the coalition agreement. Looks a lot like a sucker’s payoff for Clegg and the LibDems.
A noteworthy change in the district-drawing procedures:
Because of the rigid new formula for calculating constituency size, the Commission will for the first time have to cross county and council boundaries.
Unlike in the USA, districts are drawn by an independent Boundary Commission, not by politicians. But the criteria to be used, as well as for determining the total number of seats, are determined in legislation.
The changes could substantially alter the degree of “localism” in UK representation, as well as the balance among the main parties.
- Even the AV proposal in the referendum was a compromise for the LibDems, who would have preferred a proportional system to be put up for a vote. [↩]