When Is a Gerrymander Not a Gerrymander: Who Benefits and Who Loses from the Changed Rules for Defining Parliamentary Constituencies?

Ron Johnston, David J Rossiter, CJ Pattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Members of the British Labour party have, not for the first time, criticised the Boundary Commissions’ proposals for new constituency boundaries as gerrymandering. This represents a misuse of the term: the Commissions have produced recommended constituencies in the context of new rules for such redistributions that give precedence to equality of electorates across all seats and the boundaries of those constituencies have been defined without any reference to the likely electoral consequences. The Conservatives, who were responsible for the change in the rules to emphasise electoral equality, wanted to remove a decades-long Labour advantage in the translation of votes into seats because of variations in constituency size, and the Commissions’ implementation of those rules has achieved that. A Labour advantage has been removed but not replaced by a Conservative advantage: in terms of electoral equality between the two, the playing field has been levelled. Labour's claim to have been disadvantaged by decisions on the electoral register is also examined; the disadvantage is probably only small.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Volume88
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Keywords

  • constituency boundaries
  • Boundary Commissions
  • equal electorates
  • gerrymandering

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