An Act of Vandalism: The Conservative Party and the Constitution | Angus Gowanlock
On the 17th of October, the strictly impartial Boundary Commission released its revised proposals for the redrawing of constituencies for the House of Commons, while seemingly innocuous these proposals actually represent an extraordinary act of constitutional vandalism by the Conservative Party in order to gain short term electoral advantage.
Historically the Boundary Commission was given a lot of freedom to draw boundaries in order to create constituencies that represent communities, however in this review the Conservatives have forced the Commission to firstly reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600, secondly to demand that constituencies have no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507 electors and thirdly have legislated to have the review repeated every five years.
These provisions are damaging to the UK’s parliamentary tradition as they reduce the number of MPs on the backbenches to hold the government to account while severing the link between community and parliament, reducing representation to a mere numbers game as is practice in the United States; something any good Tory should oppose.
The straight jacketing of the boundary commission in terms of electorates has created proposed constituency boundaries such as ‘City of Durham and Easington’, ‘Dunbartonshire West and Bearsden North’ or ‘West Renfrewshire’ (half of which is in the neighbouring county of Ayrshire), that can only be described as monstrous and unrepresentative.
This destructive attitude to our constitution is nothing new, from David Cameron stuffing the Lords full of cronies to Theresa May not allowing parliament to vote on the introduction of the European Arrest warrant when she was Home Secretary, the Conservative Party has always put its own interests before that of the country. This was epitomised by Cameron’s decision to put the European question to an unconstitutional referendum rather than face civil war within his party.
However, there is good news, the proposals are unlikely to pass now thanks to the loss of the Conservative Party’s majority in the House of Commons. Even so, the careless attitude displayed by the Conservative Party to our constitution should worry all Tories, especially the dwindling few that are Conservative MPs.