The Tories are moving forward their plans to gerrymander equalise the number of constituencies. The aim is to have the same number of registered voters in each constituency. Of course this will mean vastly different numbers of people in each constituency: those who aren’t registered will be invisible to this process. And those who aren’t registered are disproportionately the young, the mobile, people who rent, lower income groups – basically Labour leaning groups.
Consequently, it is due to remove more Labour seats than Tory seats, though recently it seems the hapless Lib Dems may be on the sharp end.
One thing the Tories haven’t considered and perhaps the Boundary Commission either, is how they equalise constituencies in the south east when housing changes bite. High ‘affordable’ rents, cuts in housing benefit and the introduction of the benefit cap will cause lots of people to leave expensive areas and move to cheaper ones. The Boundary Commission is going to be playing catch-up from the start, trying to equalise constituencies as significant numbers of people are forced to move.
One report already has 82,000 people leaving London for the surrounding towns and that’s ignoring the movement within London which is due to lose 5 seats in the review. When Central London’s larger less well off families end up in outer London and surrounding south eastern towns, how will the Boundary Commission keep tabs on them?
If they don’t, it’s important the Labour Party does, or people already uprooted from their communities will continue to find themselves disenfranchised. Local Labour parties should try to engage with people early, tackle the concerns that new arrivals (from anywhere) can bring and, importantly, get them registered to vote.
With many less well off voters heading out of central London and with real reasons to be angry with the Tories, perhaps MPs in places like Enfield, Barnet, Thurrock, the Medway Towns might regret supporting their party’s housing and benefit reforms.
It’s possible that even the gerrymandering won’t be enough to help them.