If you ever needed confirmation about how out of touch Government and its agencies has got under the Coalition you need to look no further than the latest revised set of boundaries revealed today by the Boundary Commission.
From their bunker somewhere in Whitehall the officials there have schemed over the redrawing of much the country’s representations. It sounds like a technical detail – constituency boundaries – hardly the stuff of grand political debate, but they have the potential to radically change the ability of MPs to represent the interests of Plymouth’s residents. And sadly, for the worse.
But perhaps that’s a bit harsh on these officials. They are only following the legislation passed by the Tories and their Lib Dem chums to redraw the boundaries. When this legislation was going through Parliament at the start of this Coalition experiment we knew that it would mean communities and local historical ties would be ignored for the ruthless and uncaring objective of hitting a specific number of voters per constituency. We knew it would mean a seat crossing Devon and Cornwall despite the concerns of both counties and we knew also that it would mean that Plymouth’s Parliamentary voice would be diluted by having MPs predominantly representing rural areas representing part of our city. Yet, our Tory MPs still voted for this legislation.
The Boundary proposals when they did come were a dog’s breakfast. A confused mismatch of weird and confusing formations – a psephologist’s dream – but in truth a poor solution for the issue of connecting MPs with communities.
The language used by the Prime Minister was as fluffy and deceptive as ever. Redrawing boundaries would help MPs represent their constituents better, so we were told, and would help address the expenses scandal. What tosh.
This legislation was introduced for one reason and one reason alone: to make it easier for the Tories to win the majority they failed to do in 2010. It is not about people, it is about politics. And for that people in Plymouth will suffer. Some deal.
The campaign to keep Moor View in Plymouth was a good one. Backed by local Tories, Lib Dems and Labour figures it showed what can happen when people put Plymouth first. But of course, not everyone did. Oliver Colvile, the Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, merrily ignored what was in the best interests of the city and looked forward to a swollen majority helped by adding thousands of rural voters to his urban seat.
Meanwhile voters in Moor view ward that covers Estover, Leigham and Thornbury and includes our airport site, Plymouth’s main hospital and 10,000 people who think of themselves as Plymouthians would be shunted out to be ‘represented’ by the MP for Okehampton. Again, some deal.
It is simply staggering that someone could think that Moor View could be regarded as anything but a key part of Plymouth. Staggering too that at a time of double dip recession, youth unemployment and rising prices the Government would want to devote so much time to a shallow one-sided political trickery designed to win Messers Cameron and Osborne five years at the helm whatever the cost to local communities. Staggering.
These latest proposals represent an all too late attempt by the Boundary Commissions to show it has listened. Indeed, they have tweaked a few of their proposals and even moved a few lines around within their flawed Plymouth proposals but they haven’t moved a bit on Moor View’s explusion from Plymouth. The Boundary Commission will consult on these final plans until December. But what do they mean by consult? They certainly didn’t listen to the people of Plymouth who so strongly opposed their first attempt, why would they see reason and change their minds now?
The truth of it is this: the boundary changes must be opposed and that means persuading our MPs to vote against them in the Commons. That’s now the only way we can keep Moor View in Plymouth – keep our city intact and keep Plymouthians represented by Plymouth MPs.
You can join the campaign to Keep Moorview in Plymouth by liking the Facebook page here and by asking your MP to vote against the boundary changes in the Commons. Labour’s Alison Seabeck is already pledged to oppose the boundary changes – but what of Conservative MPs Oliver Colvile and Gary Streeter?
There are times when politicians need to put party politics aside and vote for Plymouth. This is one of those times. Will the Tories back Alison Seabeck and vote to keep Moor View ward in Plymouth or will they bow to the pressure of the Tory Chief Whip Andrew ‘pleb gate’ Mitchell and vote against the interests of their city and their electorate for shallow party political gain. Let’s see…