Jeremy Corbyn attacks 'democratic deficit' of boundary changes

Posted On: 
13th September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the “democratic deficit” in proposed changes to constituency boundaries. 

Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn after winning the Labour leadership contest in 2015
PA Images

The Labour leader’s Islington North seat is one of 50 to be wiped off the map as the Boundaries Commission reduces the size of the House of Commons to 600 MPs.

Labour is unhappy that the review is based on electoral register data from December 2015, which does not take into account more than two million people who signed up between then and June’s EU referendum.

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“We’re looking at the whole issue of the boundary changes and what I see as a democratic deficit in them because the figures the Boundary Commission are working on are of December last year,” said Mr Corbyn.

“Since then well over two million more people have joined the electoral register. We need a fair electoral system that guarantees equal representation of all constituencies; by using out of date figures they can’t do that.”

But Conservative MP Glyn Davies - whose own constituency will be split into three under the plans - accused the Labour leader of "grabbing at straws" to oppose them.

"Because the current system hugely benefits the Labour party and is very unfair to the Conservatives [the changes are] inevitable," he told Radio 4's World at One.

"I think a fair distribution of seats will probably benefit the Conservative party and disbenefit Labour, and I can understand why Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t like that and is grabbing any straw to oppose it."

The commission is equalising constituencies, so that each seat has between 71,031 and 78,507 electors.

The changes – which will be consulted on before final proposals are drawn up in 2018 – will affect Labour MPs the most, with approximately 25 of the 50 scrapped seats currently held by the Opposition.

Mr Corbyn himself could look to move to the proposed new constituency of Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington, which would take territory from his existing seat.

Several big name Conservatives – including former chancellor George Osborne – are also facing changes as a result of the commission’s proposals.

But Mr Osborne said the existing system was “very unfair” and that he backed reform.

“Whatever the final boundaries, I look forward to putting myself forward to voters for re-election for Cheshire in 2020,” he added.

Constitution minister Chris Skidmore set out the thinking behind the plans: “As it stands, some constituencies have twice as many electors as other constituencies and that cannot be right."