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 criteriausuch as continuity of constituency boundaries and fitting those within the maps of communities represented by local government territoriesucould 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 outcomeushould the proposed constituencies (or some variant of them) be finally adopteduwill see much less continuity and reflection of community identities than previously. That fracturing is particularly extensive in urban England because of that Boundary Commissions 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 democracyuthat Members of Parliament represent places with clear identitiesuis 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.
- ELECTORAL BIAS