We now have proposals for new parliamentary constituency boundaries to be used in general elections from 2020. The proposal affecting Morpeth is that the Wansbeck constituency ceases to exist and we become part of a new Hexham and Morpeth constituency. This is all based on an attempt to reduce the number of MPs (and their costs) and equalise, as far as possible, the number of electors in each constituency.
The Lib Dem view is that these proposals in no way address the disproportionality that plagues our electoral system. The current system of First Past the Post is barely democratic and makes significant numbers of people believe that their vote has no value. This adds to the current sense of disillusionment with the politics of the establishment.
Proportional representation has been a Lib Dem policy for decades. It is an essential element of our values of fairness and justice. Yet no government in power will commit to PR as they see it as diminishing their own chances of a return to power. In coalition the Lib Dems tried to move towards introducing PR but, as the junior partner in government we had to accept a watered down version that was rejected by the electorate. Now there is hope that PR can be achieved. Following the Brexit vote many others are realising the sense in our policy. We now have:-
- Campaigns by Make Votes Count;
- the Electoral Reform Society supporting PR;
- a Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform including Stephen Kinnock and Chuka Ummuna;
- the Greens are now campaigning for PR; and
- the creation of a Conservative Action for Electoral Reform group.
This amounts to enormous enthusiasm and a “progressive alliance” could bring about a much needed change to PR.
There is no way that redrawing boundary lines can even remotely make our elections fair unless we dispose of the perverse First Past the Post system. Seats in parliament must match votes. Any party’s share of the seats must be more directly related to the number of votes received. 83% of developed democracies use some form of PR. So must we.
To have your say on this issue look on the Boundary Commission for England website. Let them know you want PR or boundary changes are a waste of time.