Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, October 20, 2017

Redistricting UK style

How many differences between redistricting in the USA and the UK can you list?

Boundary changes: Latest plans for Commons seats published
Revised proposals for the shape of parliamentary seats at the next general election have been published.

The proposed constituency boundaries in England,Scotland and Wales have been drawn up on the basis the total number of MPs will be cut from 650 to 600.

Parliament approved the principle of reducing the size of the Commons in 2011, intended as a cost-saving measure in the wake of the expenses scandal.

But it is uncertain whether the Commons will end up backing the detailed plans.

If they do so, the proposed new constituencies - recommended by independent bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - will take effect in 2022, the scheduled date of the next election.

However, there are doubts whether MPs will agree to the plans, which would leave England with 32 fewer seats, Scotland six fewer, Wales 11 fewer and Northern Ireland - which will publish its revised plans at a later date - one less than at this summer's general election…

As well as reducing the number of seats, the review is predicated on plans to make constituencies more equal in size, in terms of their total number of voters.

Under the blueprint published on Tuesday, all but a handful of constituencies - for which exemptions are being made because of their unique geographic characteristics - will have between 71,031 and 78,507 voters…

The Commons rejected the last set of boundary proposals in 2013 after the Lib Dems withdrew their support in the wake of the failure to agree with their Tory coalition partners on reforms to the House of Lords.

As a result, the 2015 election was fought on the same boundaries as in 2010. This summer's snap poll, called at short notice by Mrs May, was also contested on the basis of the 2010 boundaries.

If MPs reject the current proposals, the next election will be fought on demographic data based on the 2000 electoral register and will not take into account changes since then.

Labour's Cat Smith said her party would work with other parties to ensure the boundary review went ahead in the interests of democracy, but said it had serious concerns about the current proposals.

"To lose 50 MPs at a time we are repatriating powers from Brussels, as we leave the European Union, risks leaving the UK government struggling to keep up with the day-to-day requirements of legislation," she said.

"They need to drop their unfair, undemocratic plans, as well as ensuring the review is based on the most up-to-date register and that there is appropriate flexibility to take into account community ties and geography."

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