Friday, 23 September 2016

My analysis of this week's by-elections and why ward-splitting is necessary in the 2018 Boundary Review

Readers, the results of this week's local by-elections featuring Green Party candidates are as follows:

(20/9/16):

Cardiff UA, Plasnewydd: Liberal Democrats 1258 (48.1%, +14.4%), Labour 910 (34.8%, -2.5%), Plaid Cymru 177 (6.8%, -3.6%), Conservative 115 (4.4%, -0.5%), Green 93 (3.6%, -10.2%), UKIP 62 (2.4%).

(22/9/16):

Cherwell DC, Adderbury, Bloxham & Bodicote: Con 1015 (57.4%, +7.0%), Lab 286 (16.2%, +0%), Green 278 (15.5%, -3.7%), Lib Dem 189 (10.7%, -3.3%).

Gateshead MBC, Chopwell & Rowlands Gill: Lab 1066 (59.1%, -3.7%), UKIP 282 (15.6%, +1.3%), Lib Dem 221 (12.3%, +7.9%), Con 156 (8.6%, -2.3%), Green 79 (4.4%, -3.2%).

North Lanarkshire UA, Coatbridge North & Glenboig (1st preference votes): Lab 1350 (41.7%, -11.3%), SNP 1261 (39.0%, +8.2%), Con 366 (11.3%, +5.3%), Green 195 (6.0%), UKIP 63 (1.9%). Labour gain from SNP.

Suffolk CC, Hadleigh: Lib Dem 642 (36.2%, +12.8%), Con 460 (25.9%, -5.6%), Lab 397 (22.4%, +5.8%), UKIP 204 (11.5%, -11.3%), Green 70 (3.9%, -0.9%).

Local by-elections these may be, they had some notable consequences-the Liberal Democrats' gain of the rural Hadleigh ward caused the Conservatives to lose overall control of Suffolk County Council, and a Labour gain of the reliably Conservative Christchurch ward in Cockermouth, Cumbria, gained Labour overall control of Allerdale council (where Cockermouth is situated in) with a majority of 2.

I am pleased that our candidate for the Witney by-election on 20th October will be Larry Sanders, brother of US Senator Bernie Sanders and 2015 candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon. I wish Larry the very best, even if it looks very unlikely indeed that the Conservatives will lose the Witney by-election.

I would like to hint on the subject of the 2018 Boundary Review for Parliamentary Constituencies that ward splitting is necessary in some places, for many reasons:

1. Keeping communities together is vital when creating any new constituency, especially if those communities are relatively small.
2. There is no need to combine cities with hinterland that has no real connection that city (e.g. 'Halesowen & Birmingham Selly Oak', a 'Blaydon' constituency containing part of Ponteland)
3. Some large city wards already contain more than one community anyway e.g. Otley & Yeadon in Leeds, Lozells & East Handsworth in Birmingham, and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean in Brighton & Hove. Therefore to create coherent constituencies that are within quota, ward-splitting should be acceptable when it is convenient to do so and where the ward to be split contains more than one distinct parish/community.
4. The limited range for manoeuvre in electorate terms (71,030 to 78,507, giving a range of 7,477; some inner-city wards have electorates at least 1 1/2 times that range) will necessitate it in the larger cities and in some London boroughs.

As long as the wards need to be split are split carefully, and as long as it is not done indiscriminately, I believe it will work out, particularly in Leeds and Birmingham which have the largest average ward size in electorate terms in the whole of England.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on! There will be a punch up over Halesowen (Black Country) being lumped in with 3 Birmingham suburbs. Even Selly Oak and Bartley Green being combined is really strange - both are in Birmingham but put together completely arbitrarily. There's little community overlap between these two areas.

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