Followers of this blog will know that we have consistently opposed the Coalition’s efforts to force all Parliamentary constituencies to be the same size, along with all of the nonsense this will mean on the spot. County boundaries respected since the first ‘knights of the shire’ attended the first Parliaments over 700 years ago are no longer sacrosanct. A large part of Devon will share an MP with a large part of Cornwall. The same thing will happen to Dorset and Wiltshire. Gloucester Cathedral will no longer be in the Gloucester constituency but in the Forest of Dean. (It’s not possible under the new rules for the Gloucester seat to be left alone: it has 315 voters too many!)
The Boundary Commission’s consultation on its initial proposals closes on Monday and we have today sent in our response, which is reproduced below.
The Wessex Regionalist Party offers the following comments on the review.
1. We believe that the legislation governing the review is fundamentally flawed in its devaluing of community identity. We also believe that MPs failed to understand that limiting variation in the size of the electorate to no more than 5% would mean that shire and other local loyalties could no longer automatically be respected. We believe that the Commission has a responsibility not only to carry out its task within the remit of the legislation but to convey to those responsible the degree of public disquiet at what may be unintended consequences of that legislation.
2. We welcome the Commission’s proposals where they succeed in respecting the traditional boundaries of Wessex shires. We remain concerned that important local boundaries within shires, notably those of the City of Gloucester, have been treated insensitively.
3. Without prejudice to our primary position that constituencies in Wessex should not cross the traditional shire boundaries, we suggest that the proposed ‘Warminster & Shaftesbury’ constituency could be named ‘Heart of Wessex’. There is a precedent for this in the former European Parliamentary constituency of Wessex (1979-84).