Labour MPs have been vociferous in their criticism of proposed boundary changes since they were first discussed. Many within the party doubt that boundary changes will ever happen – especially after the mess the government is making of Lords reform. Yet the Labour Party seems to believe that the changes will be happening – and it could mean your CLP effectively disappears in just a few months – replaced by a new seat.
Although the party acknowledges that the boundary changes may not happen and have put in place “contingency plans should the reorganisation of CLPs need to be halted or reversed” – should the Labour Party really be reorganising CLPs before the final boundary changes have been confirmed? Being ready for an early election is important – but the potential for changing from one seat to another, and then back to the original seat sounds like a logistical nightmare. As does selecting a candidate for one seat and then finding them representing a potentially much changed constituency. Avoiding “unnecessary reselection procedures” is one thing – but members in the new CLPs should still get a say over who their candidate is…
Should boundary changes happen, we’ll be keeping a very close eye on selections/reselections – as well as where the money and resources from existing CLPs ends up.
Here’s the letter the party has been sending to all CLPs in England (plain text version below):
To: all CLP Chairs, Secretaries and Treasurers and MPs in England
20 July 2012
As you will be aware, the Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has commenced the reviews which are required under the terms of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act. This introduced a fixed size of parliament of 600 seats and a stipulation that all constituency electorates shall be within five per cent of the national electoral quota.
The Initial Proposals of the BCE were published in September 2011. The Labour Party made submissions to the consultation, including counter proposals, based on the discussions at consensus meetings in all regions of England. We also made presentations to the public hearings which the Commissions organised.
The Commissions are expected to publish their revised proposals in the autumn, which in most cases will form their final recommendations. As CLPs must be reorganised in the wake of the boundary changes, a considerable amount of work will need to be done before reselections may take place.
In particular, it will be necessary to establish membership lists based on the proposed new boundaries as the basis for reforming CLPs, which will then need to appoint new officers.
Only when this process is completed may selections begin.
Given the electoral importance of having candidates in place as early as possible, the NEC resolved last July that the reorganisation of CLPs shall commence on 1 January 2013 on the basis of the Revised Proposals of the Boundary commissions. This followed a full consultation with the party which showed overwhelming support for this timetable.
Although no action is needed at this time, to prepare the party for the changes which lie ahead the attached CLP Reorganisation Pack provides details about the process which will be followed. We will provide further details in due course.
Finally, we are aware that internal divisions within the Coalition Government over House of Lords reform have created uncertainty about the ultimate implementation of the boundary review. We have therefore put in place contingency plans should the reorganisation of CLPs need to be halted or reversed.
Most fundamentally, we will ensure that membership lists for the current structure of CLPs will be retained and we are working with our membership services provider to ensure that we have the facility to switch systems should the need arise.
In addition, should the Coalition Government abandon the boundary review after we have selected candidates for any proposed new constituencies, the NEC will work with the candidates and CLPs involved so as to ensure that no unnecessary reselection procedures need to be restaged.
The NEC will keep these matters under review.