Representing people and representing places: Community, continuity and the current redistribution of parliamentary constituencies in the UK

David Rossiter, Ron Johnston*, Charles Pattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In late 2011 to early 2012 the four UK Boundary Commissions published their provisional recommendations for new parliamentary constituencies. These were produced according to new rules for redistributions legislated in 2011, which make electoral equality the paramount criterion; organic criteria - such as continuity of constituency boundaries and fitting those within the maps of communities represented by local government territories - could only be taken into account so long as the arithmetic criterion that all constituencies have electorates within ±5 per cent of the UK quota is met. Those recommendations were much more disruptive to the pre-existing constituency map than many had anticipated, and the outcome - should the proposed constituencies (or some variant of them) be finally adopted - will see much less continuity and reflection of community identities than previously. That fracturing is particularly extensive in urban England because of that Boundary Commission's decision not to split wards between constituencies; if that had been done, as illustrated here, the outcome could have been much less disruptive overall. As it stands, the outcome suggests that the underpinning theory of British representative democracy - that Members of Parliament represent places with clear identities - is being undermined. The review was halted in early 2013 and is scheduled to recommence in 2016; the issues raised here will be at least as important again then.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-886
Number of pages31
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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