Pushing the boundaries

As ever Mike Wood, MP, is economical with the truth. Again, about the Boundary Review. He’s been around politics and Parliament long enough to know that boundary reviews come up as regularly as general elections, but not as often, and that they are a fundamental part of the workings of Parliament.

This is the fourth such review in my 60-year political lifetime. As for being a “partisan attempt to ensure the Tories won the next election,” does he not think that the other campaigning political parties might have a say in that when the time comes, as will several million individual electors? And God knows, Cameron and Clegg have done quite enough in two and a half years to cheese off a good many of them, including their own supporters.

Meaningful reform of the House of Commons? I would have thought reducing the numbers by 50 MPs was be quite a major reform, especially regarding the working of the Select Committee system, which can hold government, and the governed, to account quite effectively.

Of course Mike wants to retain the present boundaries. They have given Labour a built-in advantage since the review in the 1990s, and will now do so for another general election, maybe two. That’s democracy Labour style, because Jim Callaghan pushed that one through, and promptly saw his local government base decimated in the local elections of 1995! And few Tories will ever trust Clegg and the Lib-Dems again, if they ever did. Cameron can’t say he wasn’t warned.

The idea that the “impact upon Batley & Spen would have been catastrophic” is laughable. Parts of these valleys, like Heckmondwike, have been moved in, or out, of their respective constituencies like the proverbial fiddler’s elbow, at every boundary review since the 1950s, yet they are still here.

Our basic communities established over centuries, still function. Mike Wood knows it was the Local Government Boundary Revision of 1974 that turned these valleys inside out, creating that monstrosity Kirklees, despite Kirklees Abbey being in Brighouse, which is now part of that other monstrosity, Calderdale. A Revision devised by the Wilson Labour government, and implemented by the Heath Tory government, despite a very strong minority report advising against the changes.

But I leave Mike with this thought. The Boundary Commission is a bunch of civil servants doing what they have done for yonks, advising the government on a course of action, which has to be agreed by Parliament.

Could it be that after Blair and Brown tried to politicise the civil service that a few of them wanted to get their own back on the last Labour government? Partisan? Nah! More like basic human nature. Would that make politicians of us all then?


Cornmill Lane