The campaign to allow MPs to continue to represent real communities, shaped by geography, history and culture, has a growing following. It even has its own Facebook page.
The so-called ‘Conservative’ Party and its glove-puppet partners remain steadfastly committed to ripping up our history in the name of ‘fairness’. It really is no defence to say that ‘fairness’ must outweigh sentiment, as the boundaries of Scotland and Wales are to be protected while others of much greater antiquity are not. It is claimed that the constitutional history of the Union and of its constituent parts has to be respected. We do not disagree. But what of England’s internal history?
In Wessex, our shires have shaped the lives of 40 generations and more. For our politicians, such community ties seemingly count for nothing. For them, England is one vast canvas dotted with millions of interchangeable voting units. The localities and regions that came together – under Wessex leadership – to form the nation are there to be scrubbed out.
There is no doubting that there is a mandate for change, though by no means all areas will have voted for it. The Conservative manifesto pledged to “ensure every vote will have equal value by introducing ‘fair vote’ reforms to equalise the size of constituency electorates, and conduct a boundary review to implement these changes within five years”. (Always read the small print before casting your vote!) Yet concessions have already been made. A few glove puppets in the north of Scotland representing large territories with sparse populations are cosily protected from the proposals. Special geographical circumstances elsewhere – such as the Isle of Wight – are not recognised and ought to be. ‘Equalisation’ has been defined as within 5%. Why not 10% and allow even more of those special geographical circumstances the room to breathe?
Last week MPs debated the clause that all this fuss is about. Amendments were tabled. And never discussed. So much time was spent talking about the reduction in the number of MPs – from 650 to 600 – that they never got around to the territorial issue. The amendments went in the bin.
So much for the ‘Mother of Parliaments’. If this is the standard of procedure we hold up as a model to the rest of the world you can stuff it. Mount it in a glass case. And give us back the power to make our own decisions in Wessex before common sense is affronted any further.