This week the Government in partnership with the Boundary Commission for England produced a review into the geographical map for parliamentary constituencies for the Westminster Parliament. The aim of this review is to distribute the number of voters more evenly per constituency ‘making parliament fairer’.


Why constituencies matter

To put this in simpler terms; the British electoral system is based around the idea of ‘one person one vote’, making it on a surface level seem that everyone within the British electorate has an equal say as to who governs the country. This however is not technically the case. Where you live and how many people live in your constituency translates directly to how much your one vote means in the real world.

For example, if you live in a rural constituency of 10,000 people and everyone in the constituency votes, then you effectively have one ten-thousandth of a say as to who your MP will be. But if you live in a more urban constituency with 50,000 people, then you have one fifty-thousandth of a say. A much smaller voice. And it is this inequality that the boundary commission aims to partially address by making constituencies have more equal populations.

Changing trends

Similar consultations and reviews have been produced in the past but have been rejected. The biggest change this time around is that the number of parliamentary MPs is not being altered. Reducing MP numbers would have been more practical. The UK has the fourth-highest number of legislature members in the world (excluding the European Parliament which is made up of 27 nations) so the move would save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. But the idea of reducing MPs was never really going to happen. After all, MPs would then have to decide whether or not they would like to keep their jobs. Still, this review is the most serious proposal we’ve had since the last changes in 2010, leaving only around 10 per cent of England’s constituencies unchanged.

You can view any changes that may have been happening in your local area by looking at the boundary commissions website. Around 90 per cent of places in the country have changed in some way, so it is worth investigating further as this could have a dramatic impact at the next general election scheduled for 2024.

The main trend to pick up on is that more populous areas in southern England are increasingly likely to gain better representation at the expense of those in northern England, the Midlands, Scotland, and the most severely affected, Wales — which would lose eight MPs. In a way, this is a direct reversal of Boris Johnson’s promise to invest outside of London and give those areas a better say. Most significantly, this takes away seats in places such as the northeast and red wall areas in the Midlands.

 A gain for the Conservatives?

What all this translates to we won’t quite know until we have a general election. However, it is pretty safe to assume that these changes will help the Conservatives who tend to perform better in southern England, while Labour continues to lose MPs in traditional stomping grounds. The quantitative political consultancy site Electoral Calculus has predicted the Conservatives could gain as many as twelve seats from the changes.

Plans are still in the proposal stage and there is a consultation period until mid-August to make any necessary alterations or corrections (for instance, a village near where I lived was accidentally cut across three different constituencies until this was amended last week). Even though many people will not know what is happening until it is too late, this still raises a good opportunity for us to have a say in national democracy on changes that could drastically impact the future of this country.