Theresa May suffered a catastrophic election result in June, losing her party an overall majority. And now, that result has handed Jeremy Corbyn an unexpected, game-changing gift.
According to The Times, May is on course to drop [paywall] a long-standing plan to cut the number of MPs. This proposal would have cut 50 MPs from parliament. Many Labour MPs faced the axe – including Corbyn.
Essentially, the plan could have locked the Tory party in power indefinitely. So it’s a welcome U-turn for Labour. And it confirms that, after Labour’s promising election result, Corbyn’s party has everything to play for at the next election.
Rigging the game
The Conservative government promised a boundary review two days after winning the 2015 general election. It claimed boundary changes would cut costs. The plan was to reduce the number of constituencies, and therefore MPs, from 650 to 600 – by equalising the number of voters in each area. The Boundary Commission put together a review on how the plan would work in practice.
It would hit Labour disproportionally; research suggests it would lose up to 10% of its seats.
But it’s not only Labour MPs, including Corbyn, who would lose their seats because of the plan. It would also affect some Tory MPs. Since 2016, some Conservatives have been voicing opposition to the plan and demanding the government cut the amount of ministers and Lords if the boundary changes go ahead.
Following the terrible 2017 general election result, The Times claims [paywall] that senior Tories fear the changes are too big an ask. Three top Tory sources told the publication that the leadership will likely shelve the plan. One commented [paywall]:
The plan to reduce the Commons to 600 was a colossal liability which could only have been simply implemented if they had got a 100-plus seat majority in June, which they did not…
The devil’s in the detail
But May’s government isn’t completely scrapping the plan. The Times reports [paywall] that the government is going to ask the Boundary Commission to redo its review. The new plan will allegedly keep all MPs but will still redraw constituencies to make sure they are approximately the same size.
So while the Tories will no longer be axing loads of Labour seats, there’s still room to ensure that the redrawing benefits their party; such as finding ways to dilute the opposition vote in certain areas. A new plan could, for example, move a chunk of a Labour stronghold into another constituency, thereby watering down Labour’s vote in that area.
Changing electoral areas with the intention of benefiting one particular party is known as gerrymandering.
Weak and wobbly
But for now, according to The Times, the Labour Party is willing [paywall] to support May’s latest U-turn. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because as Corbyn has said, he’s one of many who see the original plan as a blatant attempt at gerrymandering.
Labour will surely be watching closely to check if the redrawing of constituencies strengthens the Tories’ position. And given how weak the Conservative Party is after the last election, it should probably watch very closely indeed.
– Join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?