Norbury’s constituency move helps to spell end for McDonagh

WALTER CRONXITE, in a final review of the Boundary Commissioners’ review, lays out the extraordinary lengths undertaken to squeeze out of existence a Labour-held seat in south-west London

If any further proof was needed to demonstrate that the Tories are determined to abuse the power they hold in government to gerrymander control of parliament for a good deal longer than five years, then take a look at the bugger’s muddle that is the Boundary Commissioners’ review of constituencies in Merton.

Siobhain McDonagh: her Mitcham and Morden Labour constituency has been erased from existance by the Boundary Commission

Siobhain McDonagh: her Mitcham and Morden Labour constituency is to be erased

This is not to impune the integrity of the Boundary Commissioners, who are independent of government. But they have had few real options. They were given a brief to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, to restrict the size of constituencies to between 71,000 and 78,500 voters, and they have had to discount around 2 million electors newly registered in the first six months of this year. And that’s before you ask yourself whether the conservative (small “c”) Establishment (big “E”) wields any broader influence over public bodies.

Population in Croydon, and London more broadly, is growing. Yet the Labour-voting capital is to end up with five fewer seats in 2020 than the city had in 2015, if the review’s recommendations are followed. This, Tories maintain, is in the interests of “fairness”, and to have more “balanced” seats. Yet in the report delivered overnight, Croydon North retains 10 per cent more voters than Croydon South. More balanced? Really?

Across the country, the Commission’s review is expected to cost Labour around 30 seats (out of 232) and the Liberal Democrats around four (out of eight). All this from a process introduced by a political party which currently has more than two dozen of its MPs under police investigation for electoral fraud in 2015.

George Eaton, the New Statesman’s political editor, reckons that had the alternative boundaries been in place at the last election, the Conservatives would have won a majority of around 44, as opposed to 12. 

One of the Labour seats under threat of being magicked away is Siobhain McDonagh in Mitcham and Morden, which until now has been part of Merton. The Boundary Commissioners appear here to have gone to extraordinary lengths to fulfill the criteria they were given. All with the effect of dissipating the core support of what McDonagh had made into a safe Labour seat.

Mitcham and Morden, a wedge of red between the yellow of LibDems' Carshalton, and the blue of Tory Sutton and Cheam and Wimbledon seats, is to be erased from the electoral map

Mitcham and Morden, a wedge of red between the yellow of LibDems’ Carshalton, and the blue of Tory Sutton and Cheam and Wimbledon seats, is to be erased from the electoral map

The Commissioners must have considered their options elsewhere.

Take Croydon North, for example. Had they tried to unload some of the steadfastly red wards in Steve Reed OBE’s constituency, they might have made the present Tory marginal of Croydon Central even more marginal. That, surely, would never have done. Instead, the Commission has picked wards here and there towards the effect of transforming Croydon Central into a 5,000-vote majority Conservative seat.

So they have needed to jettison another seat in south London. To do that, the Commissioners have managed to knit together a new seat of Streatham and Mitcham from wards taken from no fewer than four current constituencies, including Norbury from Croydon North. It places McDonagh and Streatham MP Chuka Umunna facing a game of musical seats for their parliamentary futures.

With McDonagh’s seat wedged next to true blue Wimbledon, she appears to be one London Labour MP who could be squeezed out by this Tory-commissioned review, unless she opts to seek selection against Umunna for any newly formed constituency.

Safe Tory seat: Stephen Hammond

Safe Tory seat: Stephen Hammond

The seemingly randomised collection of wards in south-west London has had a knock-on effect elsewhere, too.

As the Commissioners state in their report: “In the boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth, we propose a Wimbledon Common and Putney constituency, which retains all six wards from the existing Putney constituency, and adds two Merton borough wards – Wimbledon Park, and Village (including Wimbledon Common) – from the existing Wimbledon constituency.

“This reconfiguration includes Wimbledon Common wholly in one constituency. We have amended the name of this constituency to reflect this. The remaining eight wards from the existing Wimbledon constituency have been included in a proposed Merton and Wimbledon Central constituency, with four wards from the existing Mitcham and Morden constituency.”

Which all means that the Tory MP for Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond, does not so much have a safe seat, more a very comfy sofa. Odd that.

There now begins a 12-week consultation period, including a series of public hearings, details of which can be found at www.bce2018.org.uk. The consultation closes on December 5. There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2017. Following which, final recommendations will be made to Parliament in September 2018.

Here’s the Commission’s London report in full.

And if you had any doubts that the process and work of the Boundary Commission was a little on this dull side, this video produced by the Commissioners should put your mind completely at rest…

 


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2020 General Election, Merton, Norbury, Outside Croydon, Siobhain McDonagh MP and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Norbury’s constituency move helps to spell end for McDonagh

  1. The dogs breakfast which is Merton will be fought right to the end; in the effort to achieve equality the borough now finds itself split between five constituencies with areas put together which have little cohesion and seems to be more of a numbers game. They are in for a massive battle ahead and will receive an avalanche of objections on the draft proposals. Really can’t see this scheme surviving as it’s far worse than anything proposed in the aborted 2011 review which at least has some degree of logic.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jamie10000 says:

    I don’t agree with your implicit suggestion that the commissioners are in any way partisan in their approach. I have worked with them before and found them to be beyond reproach. I suggest spreading rumours like this will only make it more difficult for them to do their job, which is quite unhelpful.

    This is not an easy task by any means. Remember that these are only initial proposals and that the commission are eager for people to make representations. You’ll remember in the last review there was a world of difference between their initial proposals and the revised ones. If you’ve got an opinion just write to them using their very decent website or attend one of their public meetings.

    Like

    • We suggest you get someone to read the article to you and explain what the big words mean…

      There is no suggestion, explicit or implicit, that the Commissioners are partisan. Indeed, the article states that that is the very opposite to the case: “This is not to impune the integrity of the Boundary Commissioners, who are independent of government.” That is pretty clear.

      But their terms of reference, as set by the Tory Government, is such that the Commissioner have been left with few alternative options in the manner in which they deliver a review.

      And they have delivered an end result which is very close to, if not exactly, what Cameron’s Government wanted. That’s not rumour. It’s fact.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jamie10000 says:

        Sorry mate but there’s several sentences where the implication is that the commission are taking a partisan approach. I’m not sure why you’re denying that. Take these 2 sentences for example:

        “The Boundary Commissioners appear here to have gone to extraordinary lengths to fulfill the criteria they were given.” (clearly you imply here that they had a motive to go above and beyond what they could have done)

        “Had they tried to unload some of the steadfastly red wards in Steve Reed OBE’s constituency, they might have made the present Tory marginal of Croydon Central even more marginal. That, surely, would never have done.” (that final sentence clearly suggests you feel they wouldn’t have been happy with that outcome)

        Obviously you are allowed to be partisan yourself, and i make no objection to that at all. I enjoy your political posturing. I’m only trying to defend the commission and make it clear they are not partisan themselves. You clearly know this but your loyal reader may have misunderstood those sentences (and more) and thought otherwise. No need to take umbrage with me for that.

        Like

        • It is an essential part of implementing gerrymandering measures to pretend that there’s no gerrymandering going on. Whatsoever.

          And that’s exactly what the Tories are doing here, hiding behind the premise that “the Boundary Commission is independent”. And we have never suggested otherwise. Nor implied it. What you choose to infer is your problem.

          Of course the Commission is independent. Making it the perfect alibi for the Tories, after they defined the Commission’s terms of reference in such a way where they have few real options outside delivering to the Tories what the Tories require.

          So sorry, “mate”: you can be as gullible as you want. Please don’t try to patronise us or any of our readers by thinking that anyone else has to swallow such bollocks.

          Liked by 1 person

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