So here we go again, the Conservative Government attempting to redraw the parliamentary boundaries for the UK, and reducing the number of MPs by 50.
The Conservatives argue by cutting the number of elected members of parliament money will be saved. At the same time, however, they have increased the number of unelected peers in the House of Lords by 260 at a cost of £34 million.
Unsurprisingly, of the 50 MPs to lose their seats, the majority will be Labour. Somehow, I do not believe the Conservatives would be pressing ahead with these changes if the majority of MPs to lose their seats were Conservatives.
This is why the whole process is set up to gerrymander the electoral system to ensure the Conservatives have an inbuilt majority even before an election is called.
The Government insist the reduction in the number of constituencies is necessary to ensure all constituencies are of an equal size. . This, they argue, will make elections more democratic as MPs will need to fight for each and every vote in their new constituency. This is despite the fact that the Government has based their calculations for the size of constituencies on an electoral register which lost a million voters during the transfer to Individual Electoral Registration and does not include the two million people who signed up to vote in the EU referendum. This is hardly an advertisement for democracy.
What does this mean for Newton Aycliffe? Under the Electoral Commission’s proposals, and I must emphasise that they are only initial proposals at present, the town remains intact in a constituency very much similar to the existing Sedgefield constituency. However, I am disappointed that the initial proposals exclude Ferryhill and the villages in the Darlington Borough including Heighington. Instead, Ferryhill has been allocated to Bishop Auckland constituency and the villages in Darlington Borough to a new Darlington constituency. The new Sedgefield constituency has then been renamed East Durham because it will include Coxhoe, as well as wards in Easington, including Blackhalls, Shotton, and South Hetton. The new seat also includes two wards from Hartlepool!
Fundamentally, I do not believe the boundary review, which will lead to the loss of 50 elected MPs, while the Government has increased the number of unelected peers in the House of Lords, is good for democracy, nor will it cut the cost of politics and will instead only engrain future Conservative majorities.