Tuesday 9 October 2012

Endian destiny

Persistence, they say, is a virtue; and to that extent, Cameron’s determination to push ahead with his plans for reducing the number of MPs is at least consistent.  There is also a saying about discretion and valour, however, and he looks doomed to fail.

I rather suspect that his invitation to Plaid, SNP, DUP, SDLP and Green MPs to back his bill will fall on even stonier ground than his appeal to Labour and Lib Dem MPs to do so.  Indeed, there has surely to be significant doubt as to whether even his own troops will support him, especially some of those newly released to the back benches.
His core argument, repeated regularly, is that ‘all seats should be the same size with the same number of voters’; but that is not, of course, what he’s actually proposing.  Indeed, it would be silly for anyone to propose such a thing; constituencies can never be precisely equal in either size of voter numbers. 
There will always be a quota and a variation around that quota – all he’s really proposing is to reduce the extent of that variation around the quota.  But the extent to which one should allow variation will always be a matter of opinion.  Whether they should be within 5% or 10% or 15% is essentially an arbitrary decision.  What we can say, though, is that the smaller the allowed variation, the more arbitrary the resultant boundaries are likely to be, when compared to community links, history, etc.  And the proposals produced to date seem to confirm that.
I wouldn’t particularly defend the current level of variation, but neither am I enamoured of the proposed alternative.  What is being presented as some great issue of principle is really not that at all; it’s more of an Endian debate about the ‘right’ percentage figure, ignoring issues about community and relationships.
But ‘Endian’ debates occur a lot in politics, and it’s surprising how far politicians are prepared to go in pursuit of them.  That’s something else which Cameron is demonstrating well.


G Horton-Jones said...

The desire to link voter numbers to Mps has other agendas.
The concentration of population within 50 miles of London means that the majority of Mps will reflect the opinions etc of those residents. Parliament has always been wary of the power of London and its people.

Given the projected rise in population in England in the forseeable future this polarisation will continue

By the same token in Wales Mps are
being further marginalised to and beyond the point of relevancy by this process

This is the endgame of Empire We should be honest enough to recognise it and move forward

G Horton-Jones said...

Should have been irrelevancy

Anonymous said...

Originally I didn't really mind the idea of a cut in the numbers of Welsh MPs. In fact I actively thought it was a good idea. But i'm very concerned by recent statements from the Tories, Gillan and also David Jones. They seem intent on punishing rather than empowering Wales.