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Filibuster on a Gerrymander - The Ex-Communicator

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January 17th, 2011


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03:42 pm - Filibuster on a Gerrymander
webofevil has a good post up about the current Labour filibuster of the peculiar portmanteau bill which covers both the AV referendum and the Tory gerrymander.

In a comment webofevil says:
Lord Falconer has just announced in the chamber that senior coalitioners have said privately that they're willing to decouple the two parts of the bill so that the 5 May referendum deadline doesn't mean the boundary changes are skimped and botched.

If so that would be a very interesting development. To my mind an AV referendum is a defensible piece of legislation, though I will vote 'No'. A gerrymander of constituencies to benefit a single party is indefensible.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 17th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
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So why are you defending it?

Seriously, the only gerrymander that any psephologists can identify are the way the boundary review that came into force with very clear rules on size still benefitted LAbour dispropostionately.

The proposed review equalises sizes, as per supposed current status. The only actual, extant, example of an actual gerrymander that's happened in this country was when Wilson's govt refused to implement the boundary review that was due to come in for 1970, as it clearly didn't favour them.

Single member seats require regular reviews, Australia reviews every three years. It's LAbour that introduced single member seats, and that clearly benefits, um, LAbour.

The current proposals may or may not be flawed (I suspect they are), but clearly not because they're gerrymandering, it's tired, factually innaccurate, historically innaccurate and isn't a valid argument.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 17th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
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It's going to rob Lib Dems of seats too you know.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 17th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
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And?

I'm a member of the Lib Dems because I'm in favour of the reforms they propose to the way we're governed. Sorting out the way PArliament is elected and works was top of my list of reasons for joining.

However, every analysis I've seen that appears to have any validity, inlcluding one co written by a friend I trust, says that it doesn't make much difference to the balance of parties.

AV will though, it'll favour voters, new parties and, over time, help remove the safe seat advantage. Regular boundary changes also do that.
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From:communicator
Date:January 17th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
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I suppose it makes sense to disenfranchise your own voters - if you are pretty sure they aren't going to vote for you any more
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 17th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
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This is, well, frankly insulting, and so far beneath you I'm surprised you've even said it.

Making every vote in the country count equally is alongstanding objective of reformers, all the way back to the Chartists.

In what way is making every constituency roughly equal, instead of neighbouring seats having variances of 12,000 votes, sane?

This is all about enfranchsing voters, but if all you can see is partisan advantage/disadvantage,t hen you're not going to look at it fairly.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 18th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
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It is a scheme to disenfranchise voters. The census itself is being abolished. There will be no right of appeal by local people. It's a politically motivated scam. The mere fact of redrawing boundaries is not - obviously - a bad thing. The implementation of this redrawing is being presented right now to Tory MPs as 'we will keep other parties from power'.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 18th, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
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Tory MPs can say what they like.

But, seriously, what has the census got to do with it? No decision has been made on the 2021 census, and the 2011 census is going ahead as planned. Regardless, census never had anything to do with constituencies, they've always been based on the electoral register.

And the 'right of appeal' can and frequently is completely meaningless, I grew up in Torbay, where the perfectly legit appeals were regularly rejected, half of Paignton isn't in Torbay constituency, and the bits that aren't are chosen by some weird logic that I never did understand. They removed the MPs old ward from his seat and gave him a Tory ward further out instead.

The right of appeal needs scrutiny, and I'm not happy about the exact proposals. But calling it a gerrymander and insisting that removing a partisan advantage (which is clearly there when urban seats are smaller population wise to rural seats) is attempting to rig it is palpable nonsense.

Concentrate on the actual problems. The Gerrymander claim is bollocks. Always was.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 18th, 2011 09:00 am (UTC)
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The abolition of the census is quite crucial though isn't it? You - it seems quite sincerely - think that the plan is for a continual revision of constituency boundaries over the next few decades, as population shifts. And you think this will be done in a non-partisan way, leading to an ever-improving system. I'm basing this on what you wrote elsewhere.

I don't believe that will happen, and you do. Now, the abolition of the census is definitive proof that what you are saying won't happen, because it removes the population information which would drive your model.

We also disagree about how achievable or worthwhile your model is, but we don't even need to go into that because it can't be implemented.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 18th, 2011 09:33 am (UTC)
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First, the census isn't being abolished. That was a myth put about by elements of the media. The census for this year is going ahead. Already said that.

The ONS has announced that it has been looking at different ways of collecting some or all of the data, using modern technology and data--one of their proposed sources, the national identity register, no longer exists, so that's less likely to happen.

So that centrel tenet of your point is irrelevent.

Regardless, the boundaries have always been based on the number of electors on the electoral roll at a key cutoff point. The Boundary Commission is designed to be impartial and capable. Having looked at its most recent reports, I'm not sure that's 100% true--there does appear to be a systemic bias in favour of urban areas over rural areas, and that obviously helps urban parties over rural parties.

However, turn it around. How is Australia capable of boundary review after each GE, normally three years, but we're to be incapable of doing it every 5 years?

Regardless, this isnt' what I want, clearly and explicitly, I want STV multi member seats based around local authority boundaries. But that isn't on the table.

I believe in equality of representation. We don't currently have it. If you've read my comments on WebofEvil's post, you've seen the Huddersfield/Colne Valley comparison. 12K difference in voters, CV is 18% larger than Hudds, but CV contains wards that were in the old Hudds on the old boundaries. That was at the time of the review.

Why does a three way marginal get 12,000 more voters than a safe Labour seat, and in what way is that anything other than a gerrymander?

The proposals are flawed, possibly deeply. By concentrating on hyperbolic language, the critique is lost as it alienates people that can influence this (I've discussed this with Lords Greaves and Shutt directly, both would be amenable to listen to legit criticism, but that's not what they're getting, the hyperbole damages the case, badly).

You're convinced it's always going to be deeply biased, based on no evidence whatsoever. I can't fathom why. I'm convinced it's a flawed process, but I can't see how you can have and keep single member seats without a problematic review process.

The current review process is so horribly flawed it needs fixing. Is the proposed replacement good or fit for purpose? Unknwon

But until people put forward actual legit criticisms, it looks better than the current system. And if it's not, it strengthens the arguments for STV, which can only be good for everyone.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 18th, 2011 09:40 am (UTC)
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Obviously the census is going ahead this year. Thge apparatus was all in place before the Tories got in. This will be the last one.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 18th, 2011 09:42 am (UTC)
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And your evidence for this is?

Seriously, I've repeated the same point twice now, and you're ignoring it. Why?
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From:communicator
Date:January 18th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 18th, 2011 10:02 am (UTC)
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The Government is examining whether after 2011 there are different ways of getting this information but no decision has been taken

From your first link. Which is exactly what I said up thread.
From:srk1
Date:January 19th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
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"Single member seats require regular reviews, Australia reviews every three years. It's LAbour that introduced single member seats, and that clearly benefits, um, LAbour."

You're eliding a bit. They review seat allocations between states every three years, but a state only gets its federal boundaries reviewed if its allocation is changing, if its variances are above a certain percentage, or if it has been seven years since the last review. Victoria, for example, has just completed its first review since 2002.
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From:matgb
Date:January 19th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
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Ah, OK. I was told they reviewed all seats after every election, and have seen that in a few sources as well.

if its variances are above a certain percentage

Doesn't that mean though that they are in fact reviewed, but not necessarily changed? Obviously, my understanding of that was wrong, ergo will need to understand more.
From:srk1
Date:January 19th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Reviewed, yes, not necessarily redrawn. The AEC check the population figures after each election and allocate seats to each state according to a certain formula. The formula is slightly complicated by the fact that each founding state is guaranteed at least five seats, so Tasmania (which should only have three by its population) is over-represented. There was also a funny situation with the Northern Territory a few years ago where they fell below the quota for two seats, but both Liberal and Labor wanted them to keep both seats, so they did.

The variances are, I think, checked on a rolling basis with the publication of each register, so a review triggered by variances could start at any time, and they don't necessarily conclude in time for a particular election. Victoria, for example, was halfway through its review at the last election (but I think that was based on the seven year rule, rather than variances)
[User Picture]
From:hawkeye7
Date:January 17th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
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The Alternative Voting system is very familiar to us here in Australia, as it is the one that we use for the lower house. (But, oddly, is a British invention.)

Another reform that you might consider, that we have here (and in Canada and many other countries) is an independent electoral commission which redraws electoral boundaries every four years.

I also often wondered why you did not create a new type of peer, one created by election (they had these in Europe in medieval times), with a time limit, and restrict the House of Lords to this type of lord.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:January 17th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
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I have been why AV in other countries doesn't produce corrosive cynicism about politics - which is what I predict it will in this country. Perhaps it's because parties in other counties are more principled, or because voters are more adept at playing the system.
[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:January 17th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
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Another reform that you might consider, that we have here (and in Canada and many other countries) is an independent electoral commission which redraws electoral boundaries every four years.

That would be the "gerrymander" being complained about. As that's exactly what's being proposed we do.

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