Tony Blair is reported to have once said that electoral reform “doth butter no parsnips”, but could the looming boundary review be the straw that breaks the back of a beleaguered and weary political union?
The overdue review of our parliamentary constituencies will not come into effect until late 2023, if at all, but our first clear sign of what it might look like came in a report filled with recommendations from the Boundary Commission for England
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If adopted, the proposals would result in Wales losing eight representatives in parliament and Scotland losing two.
The north of England would also lose out, and you may not be surprised to hear that the rest of the UK’s losses are to be the south east of England’s gains.
This long-awaited review of the parliamentary boundaries looks set to further entrench the democratic deficit that exists between parts of the country, at a moment when the future of the union has never looked less certain.
Calls for an independent Scotland have reached such a pitch as to be unignorable, no matter how practiced the Westminster elite are at failing to hear cries for greater representation.
In Wales too, more and more people feel that independence is a viable route of escape from a relationship which has always felt unequal, but now at times feels almost unbearably one-sided.
And while shifting seats out of the north of England toward the south may once have been seen as a politically harmless move for the Conservatives, it may now prove more tricky.
Indeed, as they have made gains in the Midlands and in parts of the north at the last few elections, the Government may well decide that these places can in fact be trusted to elect representatives to parliament, after all.
And for all that his north-of-England-whisperer credentials may be overhyped, Johnson must understand that having too much of a voice in parliament is about the last thing many ‘red-wall’ voters would likely complain about.
This might lead to some tweaking further down the line, but the broad strokes of the review are unlikely to change significantly.
The Boundary Commission’s recommendations would further diminish the voices of parts of the country which already feel underrepresented in our political system.
To do so would not only be an insult to those directly affected, but, as a successful recovery rests on voices from all parts of the UK being heard equally, would hold back our entire country - and potentially force it apart.