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If The Boundary Review Goes Ahead In Its Current Form, It Will Leave Two Million Voters Without A Voice

13/09/2016 11:25
Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

The Government has said over the last 24 hours that the purpose of the Constituency Boundary Review is to 'promote fairness and restore integrity to our electoral system'. Labour agrees and that is exactly why this boundary review must not go ahead in its current form.

The proposals published today by the commission are based on an electoral register with a two million gaping hole. By using the electoral register as of 1 December 2015 the review will discount the two million people who signed up to have their voices heard in the run-up to the EU referendum, therefore leaving them out of the constituency calculations.

The numbers left out of this review are really staggering. For instance, over 700,000 people under the age of 25 applied to register to vote online in the month prior to the EU referendum - all of them will be left out of this review. In London a staggering 6% of the total electorate have been left out. In some London boroughs nearly 20% of the electorate have been missed out of this count.

Given the huge drive by Tory politicians to get people to sign up during the EU referendum it would be an unforgivable snub to these people to now exclude them from the Commission's calculation. It's just not fair.

Nor is it fair to cut the number of elected MPs from 650 to 600 at a time when the unelected House of Lords is growing faster than ever, to over 800, and a time when we're losing other elected representatives in the form of 73 MEPs.

The Tories justified reducing the number of MPs based on reducing the 'cost of politics', but that is a red herring we mustn't accept. Reducing the number of elected MPs by 50 was supposed to save £12million per year, but the reality is that any savings have already been offset by the 260 extra unelected Peers David Cameron and the Tories have appointed to the Lords at a whopping cost of around £34million per annum.

It's not just Labour concerned about this boundary review. The Chair of the Procedures Committee, the Tory MP Charles Walker, has called it 'perverse' saying it risks "bringing this country's democratic settlement into disrepute". The Lib Dem peer, Lord Rennard, has called on the Government to mimic their speedy action to extend the EU voting registration deadline, and act speedily to ensure that the two million are included in this review.

Labour supports the principle of equalising the number of electors in each constituency but the reality of this review is it is unfair, undemocratic and designed to give the Tories a political advantage rather than do what is in the best interests of the country.

Theresa May will be tinkering on the edge of Parliamentary defeats in many votes to come in the near future - with cross party consensus against this unfair review, she should be very worried about this one.

Jon Ashworth is the Labour MP for Leicester South and shadow minister without portfolio

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