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Claims of landmark change in our democracy are far-fetched
The Cornish Guardian has, on numerous occasions, reported on the parliamentary boundary review, through which the Conservative Government is seeking to reduce the number of MPs to 600 and redraw the political map of the United Kingdom. Here in Cornwall, there has been massive opposition to the changes which would breach the territorial integrity of our Celtic land and lead to the creation of an unpopular cross-Tamar Devonwall seat.
There have been many reports that Theresa May intends to scrap the whole process but, at the end of last year, the Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore published an article in the Daily Telegraph.

In it, he criticised opponents of the Boundary Review, who he described as political opportunists attempting to gerrymander the UK’s parliamentary seats and “taint” future elections.

It was all a bit over-the-top, and the newspaper itself chimed in by stating that the present system was “slanted in favour of the Labour Party.” They went further and claimed that the previous “thwarted” boundary reforms, if enacted, would have given the Tories an overall majority.

The reality is that in the 2017 General Election, the Conservative Party won 42.4% of the popular vote but managed to secure 48.9% of the seats. Labour meanwhile polled 40% of the votes and returned 40.3% of the MPs in the new House of Commons.

It is simply unbelievable that certain Tory politicians and their cheerleaders consider it appropriate that a vote-share of 42.4% should give them the right to a majority of seats in Westminster and control of the UK Government.

It is also a reality that in many parts of the United Kingdom, the Conservatives dominate politics on a minority of the vote. Here in Cornwall, they won all six constituencies in 2017 but 52% of local residents – a majority – voted for other political parties.

In his article, Mr Skidmore even claimed he is pushing for “landmark change,” which I find extremely hard to believe. His party’s reforms are focussed on securing political advantage – not making the United Kingdom a more democratic society.

After all, Mr Skidmore and his allies all voted for the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but ignored it when they thought they were in the political ascendancy and cynically engineered last year’s snap General Election.

If Mr Skidmore is really committed to “landmark change,” there is much he can do. How about starting with an end to the unelected House of Lords, proportional representation in parliamentary elections, a National Assembly for Cornwall, a reduction in the number of undemocratic quangos of unelected appointees, fair funding for local councils and an end to cuts in the number of local councillors?
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By Dick Cole. Published on 21st January 2018.

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