Tories accused of rigging democracy ahead of boundary changes

The Tory party are plotting a boundary change that would see Labour lose more seats than them

Polling station sign

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is very likely to change the election boundaries ahead of the next General Election, which would increase the Tory majority to 104 seats.

The Tories have been accused of rigging democracy since the changes would disproportionately benefit them compared to other parties.

If this were to happen, the Conservatives would have double the number of seats as the Labour Party.

This is, of course, all theoretical. Pollsters Electoral Calculus worked out how many seats the Tories would have with the new boundaries based on the December 2019 General Election results. This could change in the next election, but the point is, it provides a guide as to the impact of the changes.

The Boundary Commission proposed the reform to reduce the number of seats in the House of Commons from 650 to 600 in 2018.

It’s a change that the Tories have been plotting for a while, claiming that the exisiting electoral boundaries are unfairly biased towards Labour.

Yet with last week’s results and the Tories winning 56% of the seats on 44% of the vote, this argument has weakened.

As things stand now, the reforms would mean the Tories would have 352 seats, Labour would have 174 and the SNP would have 47.

Due to how the boundaries would change, the Tories would lose 13 seats, Labour would lose 29, the SNP would drop two.

So the number of MPs in the House of Commons would decrease, and each seat would have about 75,000 voters in it.

The aim is to help even out the constituencies, since there’s currently a big variation in numbers.

For instance, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, in the Outer Hebrides has 22,000 voters while the Isle of Wight has 111,000.

A flaw in the plan is that smaller regions like Wales would lose a disproportionate number of MPs under the proposals.

Election expert and Tory peer explained: “A full boundary review has already been carried out an is ready to go, barring a legal dispute in Northern Island which is still to be resolved.

“The Government now has to decide whether to implement the existing recommendations or start a completely new review.”

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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15 Responses to “Tories accused of rigging democracy ahead of boundary changes”

  1. nhsgp

    It’s a change that the Tories have been plotting for a while, claiming that the exisiting electoral boundaries are unfairly biased towards Labour.
    The electoral commission is also clear. There is a bias to Labour. The law is that the bias shall be removed.

  2. Joe

    Parliamentary constituencies have always been adjusted according to demographic changes. It should be automatic and not require any political action.

    This is just part of our democratic process.

  3. Cole

    The whole thing should be done independently (to reflect demographic changes). The last thing we need is politicians trying to gerrymander.

  4. Francis McGonigal

    Rather than arguing about boundaries Labour should finally embrace a more proportional voting system.
    A multi-member constituency would then have more or fewer MPs as the size of its population rose or fell over time. There would be no need to change boundaries.

  5. Patrick Newman

    It originated with Mrs May and now Johnson in the Queen’s speech aims to finish the project to Putinise our democracy and create a near-permanent Tory majority.

  6. Barry Edwards

    Yes, boundaries should be reviewed but the cunning (Cameron/)Osborne plan was to base the new boundaries on the electoral register of late 2014. This was the first register compiled after the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration and many people had not realised this and were left off what became the smallest voters list of modern times. In 2014 there were 45,325,100 people able to vote in a General Election, by 2017 there were 46,148,000.

    It is generally considered that young people and private renters are less likely to be registered and also more likely to not vote Tory when registered the extra 822,900 might have altered the Boundary Commissions proposals. They were also instructed to pay more regard to size than to existing boundaries and ended up with lots of constituencies that to not match either local government nor physical boundaries.

    If the Government wants to be seen to be fair they show rerun the exercise.

  7. Paul Leake

    Yes, clearly we ne an independent system for ensuring that boundary chages are fair and equitble. The two main parties have behaved in a self-interest manner and thus are unit to champion their systms of preference. Whil I agree that it’s more than ” for a PR system, the Ories won’t suppobbt this and Labour fail to bite the bullet when Roy Jenkins put forwc be trusted to do proposals. So neither can be trued with the task of just reformation of our poliical institutions. So exect the Tories to abuse the power including their bous claim for using ID potographs denying oportunities to vote by the vulnerable and disenfranchised! One nation tories indeed!! What a con!

  8. Alice Aforethought

    @ Cole

    “The whole thing should be done independently (to reflect demographic changes). ”

    So you support this initiative then? – as the Boundaries Commission is indeed independent.

    The gerrymander was fighting the last five elections on the 2001 census.

  9. Alan Bond

    We don’t need boundary changes, we need PR so that the parties with the most votes are elected. The big problem at the moment is that most of the press is biased towards the tories and there needs to be a much tougher regulatory regime to call out the lies of the (mostly) right wing press. As for constituency boundaries favouring the Labour party, it is b******s and the lying tories know it !

  10. Patrick Newman

    I wonder if “Alice” understands the distinction of argument and assertion!

  11. Alice Aforethought

    We hear a lot about the dangers of having a weak opposition but the fiasco of boundaries unaltered since 2001 shows the dangers of having a weak government.

    These boundaries should have been updated in 2010-2015 but as this didn’t suit the Lib Dems it didn’t happen. In the brief year that Cameron had a majority he had other things on his mind and May’s weak government hadn’t the wherewithal to do anything.

    As a result, 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019 have all been fought on obsolete boundaries. They’ve remained obsolete because it suited the parties of the left.

    Along with the BBC this needs sweeping away.

  12. Graham Taylor

    The current proposals are now completely out of date and need to be dropped and start again. Nobody was happy with what the Commission came up with as they were stuck with using the wrong number of electors (based on out-of-date registers as highlighted in other comments) but also very limited in how much they could fluctuate by, causing some ridiculous proposals crossing borough/county lines.
    its’ well overdue, but start again – allow greater fluctuation and work on better data than the electoral register.

  13. Graham Taylor

    By the way, who has accused them? And who is the Tory peer quoted?

  14. Dodgy Geezer

    “………It’s a change that the Tories have been plotting for a while, claiming that the exisiting electoral boundaries are unfairly biased towards Labour. Yet with last week’s results and the Tories winning 56% of the seats on 44% of the vote, this argument has weakened……….”

    Er…no? The allocation IS biased towards Labour – everyone agrees that. The point is that Labour has been running with an unfair advantage over the last 10 years, and, once corrected, everyone will see how small a set of voters it really has….

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