Fringe Box



Political Parties Keep Their Powder Dry on Proposed Boundary Changes

Published on: 14 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2024

The proposed new boundaries for local parliamentary constituencies.

By Martin Giles

The Lib Dems and Guildford Labour are questioning the proposal to include Ash with Godalming in a new constituency proposed by the Boundary Commission last week.

But all local political parties are still considering their full responses to the current consultation which closes on August 2. Anyone can give us their view.

The changes would give Surrey an additional twelfth seat at Westminster and alter the shape of the Guildford constituency. The new which would take in the eastern part of the borough but lose the area to the south around Cranleigh.

The review is being conducted UK-wide so that changing population distribution can be incorporated. Adjustments in the proposals have been made so that each constituency would include roughly the same amount of voters.

Angela Richardson MP for Guildford

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson who, if the proposals are accepted, would have to decide between her existing Guildford constituency, which some predict will become more marginal, and the new “Godalming and Ash” constituency which will include Ewhurst, where she lives.

Ms Richardson issued a statement at the weekend saying: “Many people will have heard about the boundary changes being put forward by the Boundary Commission for England.

“Inevitably there will be discussions and assumptions about what the future will look like but these boundaries do not come into effect until July 2023.

“My clear priority is to continue to work for the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages.”

Zoe Franklin

Zoe Franklin, the Lib Dem candidate at the 2019 general election, said: “The Boundary Commission’s proposals present some interesting challenges and opportunities for communities and political parties.

“As a local party, we are looking at the proposals carefully with this and the political ramifications in mind and will work with colleagues across the region to submit a response.

“We believe changes to political governance arrangements should put communities needs at the heart of the process, and a particular concern is the way Ash has been shunted around in multiple boundary reviews – from being with Woking, then Surrey Heath and now Godalming – without regard for the views of residents or the shape of natural communities and links between them.

“However, we want to be clear to residents that these are just proposals currently and, as always, our top priority is working hard and delivering for our communities. The proposals and any debate around them will not change that.”

The Guildford Labour Party stated: “The proposed boundary changes will completely remodel the shape of our Surrey constituencies. It is not obvious if they will be better or worse for any individual town or political party.

“Looking at Guildford, the new constituency boundaries are more in line with the borough council which will improve transparency, but Cranleigh will leave Guildford to join the new Godalming and Ash constituency – which looks demographically rather incoherent to us. Surrey Labour Party will be meeting soon to discuss the wider picture and will respond as a group.”

Brian Creese

Guildford Labour chair Brian Creese commented: “It is interesting that Angela Richardson appears to be keeping her options open on which constituency she will aim to represent at the next election.

“This is understandable given it is hard to see how her extreme right-wing stance is going to be any more popular in the new Guildford seat.

“Whatever changes are finally agreed, Guildford Labour will continue working hard to represent our supporters in Guildford and the villages and ensure voters understand that the only real opposition to the Tories in Guildford is the Labour party.”

Mark Bray-Parry

Mark Bray-Parry, speaking on behalf of the local Green Party said: “These boundary changes are presented as a democratic process to “balance” constituency populations, but, in reality, they are not the driver behind a vote’s worth.

“Votes in safe seats are worth far less than those in marginals – an issue with the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system. And these boundary changes will add influence to the South of England at the expense of other regions, thereby hastening the growing inequality across the UK, regardless of “levelling-up” promises.

“Locally, should these changes go ahead, the situation appears clear: Guildford will become more politically diverse. With the new boundaries including areas where environmental concerns are at the forefront, we expect to play a key role in the new constituency boundary.”
“With the recent progressive gains in Godalming and Ash the local Green Party will have its eye on this new seat where we will reiterate our commitment to political and community collaboration, action to mitigate the climate crisis, and positive alternatives to the dominant profits-at-any-cost mentality.”

The number of constituencies in the House of Commons will remain fixed at 650.

Constituencies must have an electorate within 5% of the ‘electoral quota’ ie between 69,724 and 77,062 Parliamentary electors. The quota is the average number of Parliamentary electorate per constituency.

There are five island seats that are exempt from the 5% rule: Orkney and Shetland, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Ynys Môn, and two seats are to be allocated to the Isle of Wight.

The Commission must give primacy to the 5% rule but may also consider other factors. These are existing Parliamentary constituency boundaries, local ties, local government boundaries and special geographical considerations, such as size, shape and accessibility of a constituency.

The latest “2023 Review” was started in January 2021. It must be completed by July 1 2023. Once completed the final recommendations of the four national commissions must be implemented automatically.

The allocation of seats between each of the nations of the UK is calculated based on the proportion of the UK registered electorate in each country:

  • England                 543      (+10)
  • Scotland                57        (-2)
  • Wales                     32        (-8)
  • Northern Ireland    18        (no change)

See also: Guildford ‘Will Be More Marginal’ Under Proposed Changes to Surrey’s Constituency Boundaries

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Responses to Political Parties Keep Their Powder Dry on Proposed Boundary Changes

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    June 15, 2021 at 8:46 am

    I am interested to read about Angela Richardson’s so-called “extreme right-wing stance” in Brian Creese’s comments above.

    It would be helpful if we could be given examples of such a stance. If it is true then she must be in quite a small minority on the Conservative benches.

    In my opinion, the current “Conservative” party and government is almost as far trendy left as such previous unfortunate examples as Heath, Cameron and May.

    • Mark Bray-Parry Reply

      June 15, 2021 at 4:54 pm

      I suppose it rather depends on your definition of “extreme far-right”.

      Certainly this government is not “far-right” in terms of fiscal Conservatism, at least no more so than recent Tory governments.

      However, the Tory’s rhetoric and policies on welfare, culture, and immigration are certainly typical of far-right populist parties.

      If you want proof, just compare Tommy Robinson’s comments and the BNP policies to those advocated by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel. When a government minister is sounding like the ex-BNP leader, it is safe to say that the Tories have moved a long way from Cameron’s One Nation Tories.

      Mark Bray-Parry is a spokesperson for The Green Party.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    June 17, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    It is disappointing that so far no examples of Angela Richardson’s “extreme right-wing stance” have been forthcoming.

    It is equally disappointing that Mrs Richardson’s name does not appear with the so-called Conservative rebels who voted against the latest extension to lockdown imposed by the clearly not Conservative PM.

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