Constituency Boundaries

It is always important to remember that district setting is one of the most complicated parts of the electoral process at Kanto. We have to remember that too often we see elections across the world, won and lost, before the first vote has even been cast. The Kanto data team works with groups to review the impacts of boundaries and we are always happy to discuss what these new boundaries may mean for you. A boundary is the parameters by which units of votes are counted, most of the barriers are somewhat artificial e.g. the main road, a B-road, a park, rivers that are sometimes a barrier. It is entirely possible that a major road may be uncrossable but this can be seen as very artificial and promotes division based on no more than geographic factors. It is clear that of the “south of the railway tracks vibe”, is not a good way to split up the population and we need to remember that there has to be some way of deciding where one boundary line begins and the other ends. How do you know if a boundary is correct?

Can we actually see if in the interests of democracy, a boundary is good or bad? The answer is probably no. There are millions of individual opportunities for gerrymandering and whilst there are some initial oddities these generally look good. The full report is attached and is important to look at before rallying to attack this boundary review. A common approach one can take is to empirically test e.g. of the amount a boundary that is not square. This is often impractical in non grid based road networks. We are looking at a few of the areas in detail and will update at the next stage in the boundary process. Over the next few weeks there will be much said about the concept of reducing the number of MPs. This is often problematic as the major issue that we consider is the “power of the executive” or what is commonly informally referred to as the “payroll vote” or the “government vote” compared to the backbencher and regular MPs. Legislation could be more partisan and less representative of individual seat preferences if a seat is too big and if the vast majority of MPs are actually being paid as offices of state, either with ministers or private secretaries compare to those without additional jobs e.g. backbencher MPs. The increase of the percentage by which the government will be able to directly control the commons is of concern. Most countries have a split of the executive and the parliamentarians however in the United Kingdom they are very much one in the same this is opportunity to allow laws to be pushed through the house of commons.

Looking at the increased size of the constituency the tolerance bands which are XXX1 2XY are too tight. This is very important to be aware of because with major housing developments planned across the United Kingdom it is highly likely that we are going to see large population increases of 3,000 to 8,000 people moving into those areas, that will radically distort the Boundary. We risk a huge politicalization of the housing development process, due to estates crossing boundaries and geographical housing preferences. This should not be allowed to occur.

Given these boundaries as is always the case in the UK, are done on people registered to vote, not those that are eligible to vote it is important to remember to register. There appears to be a few constituencies that if everyone was registered who could be they would immediately need changing. The boundaries are evolving and as they often do not take I to account that different voter types, can cite in different elections there may still be some oddities that will take time to be found.

Will we have another review in 10 years time? The disappearance of the leader of the opposition‘s seat initially looks concerning and will be other helpful to ensure cross-party support for these proposals it is very important that these are always politically neutral for one never has control over the political climate in years to come. The boundaries are evolving as they often do not take into account the varying voting patterns in elections. Thus, there may still be some anomalies within them, that will take time to be found.