The Tories haven’t given up…

February 4, 2013 10:30 am

Last Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons on parliamentary boundaries was a good victory for the Labour Party.  The vote meant that the advantage which the Conservatives had planned for themselves at the next General Election in 2015 was removed.  The bookies have adjusted their odds on the next election accordingly.

But it would be wrong to believe that the Tories have given-up the fight or have stopped trying to manipulate electoral arrangements.  Immediately after the vote on Tuesday, another short debate took place on further amendments from the House of Lords on the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill which had earlier been changed.  This time, one of the amendments concerned the start date for individual electoral registration (IER).  The Tories had proposed a further ‘compromise’ amendment, under pressure from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Although sounding very technical, IER is a vitally important issue and it goes to the heart of our representative democracy.  It is about how the electoral register is drawn-up or, simply put, who can and cannot vote.

Most commentators believe that when the change from the current system of household registration to individual registration is made, the number of people on the register, and therefore eligible to vote, will fall significantly.  This of itself would hit Labour badly, but there would be a double whammy because, in future, parliamentary boundaries must be of equal size and will be determined by the number of people on the electoral register.  In December 2015, full IER will be introduced and the next boundary review will be based on that register.  The consequences for Labour could be serious.

In the Commons, and then in the Lords, Labour argued for a delay of one year in the introduction of IER to December 2016.  That would have allowed an extra year to get more people on the register and would have allowed the next boundary review to be carried-out on a more complete register.

The Government did in fact propose a change to the Bill, making December 2016 the start date for IER.  But, in proposing the amendment in both the Lords and the Commons, the Government made it clear that the change was more apparent than real.  Despite changing the start date, the Government said that they were still committed to the introduction of IER in December 2015 and ensured that the Bill had a mechanism to allow them to do this.  That reversal however can only come about if the Conservatives are still in power after the next election.

That is why I say that although the Tories may have suffered a significant defeat last Tuesday, they have not abandoned their attempts to twist and distort electoral arrangements for their long-term advantage.  What is now important is that Labour does not rest on its laurels but continues to take the fight to the Government and begins serious work on what needs to be done with regard to parliamentary boundaries and electoral registration after 2015.

Wayne David
Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform and MP for Caerphilly

Latest

  • Comment Affordable housing not fox hunting

    Affordable housing not fox hunting

    Attending my first Labour Conference as a Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) was always going to be an interesting experience. And whilst Conference was rightly focusing on the strategy to win our all important key seats in seven months time, both the fringe events and policy announcements showed that there is now a clear policy platform to allow us to take our One Nation Labour Party to the doorsteps of even the most challenging seats. Having been selected for a ‘safe’ Tory […]

    Read more →
  • News TSSA union members vote to keep poitical fund

    TSSA union members vote to keep poitical fund

    Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) trade union have voted to keep their political fund, which goes towards campaigning for policies to help their members, as well as reaffirming their links to the Labour Party. Unions have been required to ballot members on whether they want to keep their political fund every ten years ever since the Tories brought through the legislation in the 1980s – and since then there have been no high profile cases of members voting […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour and the rise of the machines

    Labour and the rise of the machines

    Technology is already transforming our homes in ways we could not have dreamed of only a few years ago, and these same technologies are altering how we work and interact. The impact of the automation of jobs and mechanisation has created increasing uncertainty surrounding the employment prospects of white-collar workers previously immune to such problems. At conference, Ed Balls was right to say that “across the developed world, rapid technological change is replacing traditional skilled jobs too – in banking […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour supporters want an EU referendum, latest poll finds

    Labour supporters want an EU referendum, latest poll finds

    A recent poll has found that 45% of Labour supporters are for a referendum on the EU, with 36% against it. The polling conducted by YouGov for think tank British Future between 14th and 15th September also found that when looked at in terms of the electorate as a whole 57%  of people are in favour of a referendum and only 23% are against. YouGov said that when asked, 52% of those who took part in the polls largely believed […]

    Read more →
  • News Are the Tories more likely to protect hedge funds than the NHS?

    Are the Tories more likely to protect hedge funds than the NHS?

    Well, yes – according to the people of Birmingham. It’s been reported that in his speech tomorrow David Cameron will attempt to claw back some legitimacy for the Tories when it comes to the NHS. But, it looks like Cameron’s latest policy announcement (where he’ll promise that by 2020 everyone in England will be able to access a GP every day of the week) will do little to undo the public’s belief that the Tories can’t be trusted with the […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y