Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Ynys Môn. A modern day pocket borough.?

Ever since rotten or pocket borough, , which had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain unrepresentative influence within the unreformed House of Commonswere done way with  Reform Act 1832, there has been largely a consensus that UK parliamentary seats allocation should  roughly have the same number of constituents.

There was also a form of consensus that Geography should play apart and there was  a general unread  agreement that Wales and Scotland could have a lower proportion of electorate per seat  than in England  in that it is something like 

  • 72,200 in England
  • 67,200 in Scotland
  • 68,300 in Northern Ireland
  • 56,000 in Wales

Scotland used to have an even smaller number of electors per electorate Devolution changed that and in the general election of  2005 the Scottish seats were cut from  72 to 59.

The Tories are intent on preforming a similar cull in Wales we expect o lose eight seats in the House of Commons, more than any other nation, or region of England.

However he UK Government has accepted an amendment by a Plaid Cymru MP which means that Ynys Môn will remain a separate constituency from Wales’ mainland.

The BBC report that 

The island of Ynys Môn is set to gain "protected status", meaning it cannot be lost as a UK Parliamentary seat after a review.

The amendment was added to a bill to redraw constituencies to cover a near-equal numbers of voters each.

The decision was welcomed by Ynys Môn Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie and Plaid Cymru MS Rhun ap Iorwerth.

But shadow Welsh secretary Nia Griffith said it did not go far enough in protecting representation in Wales.

Under current plans to redraw the 650 constituencies around the UK so they represent a nearly equal population size, it is estimated Wales could lose eight seats in the House of Commons.

On Tuesday, a bill paving the way for UK parliamentary constituencies to be redrawn was reviewed by a group of cross-party MPs, including Conservative MP Maria Miller and Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake.

They each tabled amendments to the bill seeking to ensure that the island constituency Ynys Môn was not scrapped due to its smaller population.

The Boundary Commission, which is responsible for drawing constituency boundaries, is generally required to propose constituencies whose electorates vary in size by no more than plus or minus 5% of the average.

But, under existing laws, there were currently four protected constituencies where this quota does not apply because of their unique geography: Orkney and Shetland, the Scottish Western Isles seat of Na h-Eileanan an Iar, and two seats for the Isle of Wight.

Of course  Cynics or (maybe realists) will note that  the threatened  Ynys Môn  seat was captured by the Tories in last Decembers General Election and is a three way marginal

2019 general election: Ynys Môn[42][43][44]
ConservativeVirginia Crosbie12,95935.5+7.7
LabourMary Roberts10,99130.1-11.8
Plaid CymruAled ap Dafydd10,41828.5+1.1
Brexit PartyHelen Jenner2,1846.0N/A
Rejected ballots121
Registered electors51,925
Conservative gain from LabourSwing+9.8

However  Ynys Môn  is a curious seat in that despite since 1951 going from Liberal -Labour- Tory -Plaid- Labour -Tory, it is not since Cledwyn Hughes (Labour) defeated Megan Lloyd George (Liberal) in the 1951 General Election has a sitting MP lost his or her seat. and it only has changed hands when the party holding it has a new candidate.

So the Tories have history on their side in that Virginia Crosbie might well hold on to her seat against the national trend  along as she chooses to stand.

I agree that  would not only be better served  an unique island constituency , but obviously not because it is a Tory seat.

However I can't help feeling that that it is the second reasoning that has had the greatest influence here.

Ynys Môn may not be a "Pocket Borough" in the historical sense  but it seems the Tories are keen to keep it  as long as it remains in their pocket.

I suppose if  I was honest then under the "First Past the Post" system I would  prefer Ynys Môn  to remain as a constituency , but as  I support the Single Transferable Vote (STV)  my preference  would see it being party of a 3/4/5 seat constituency.


Si said...

Nation Cymru/YouGov poll about England's independence:

Anonymous said...


glynbeddau said...

Well Spotted It is of course 1951 corrected it.