Sunday 31 October 2010

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010 and the Devonwall controversy (keep Cornwall whole)

A recent issue thrown up by the Coalition’s proposals to merge constituencies so that they are all supposedly of an equal size and that are incorporated in their Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010. Is the proposed merger of constituencies on either side of the River Tamar, the historic divide between England and Cornwall.

The Bill as we all know contains the coalition’s plans for a referendum on the Alternative Vote. A system that the Jenkins Commission (remember that?) said in its report had as many problems as First Past the Post was not in any way proportional. But the Lib Dems want it as their biggest crumb from the Tories table so we are going to spend oodles of loot on it whether its any good or not.

This equalisation contained in the bill will be done by requiring the electoral commission to redraw boundaries so that constituencies have 5% either way of the UK electoral quota. That quota is determined by dividing the number of people registered to vote in the UK by 650, that comes out at about 76,000. Please note: that is people registered to vote and is not based on adult population, so if you are over voting age and simply have not registered to vote for whatever reason, as far as these proposals are concerned you simply don’t exist. Some claim of course that this will disadvantage the poor or the vulnerable who for whatever reason are disenfranchised. I don’t suppose this bothers the Tories too much, or for that matter their Lib Dem pussy cats. Both these parties usually have a committed core vote that is always registered (as indeed to be fair will the SNP). Labour on the other hand often relies on the poor etc (God knows why seeing as you can hardly get a ray of sunshine between their policies and the Tories), hence their drive to get their vote registered in recent years, by post, registering the dead and so on.

The bill also allows constituencies in England to straddle county boundaries. This is of concern in particular to the people of Cornwall, many of whom traditionally consider themselves to be a country rather than a county. The bill proposes the creation of what is being termed a Devonwall constituency that will straddle the Tamar boundary between Devon and Cornwall. It is predicted that if boundaries are changed, South East Cornwall or North Cornwall would merge with Devon West and Torridge or Plymouth Moor View, incorporating two sides of the River Tamar.

Cornwall currently has 6 MPs three Lib Dems and three Tories. It is one of those unusual places (like the Scottish Borders) where the Lib Dems fight it out with the Tories. Prior to 2010 all six seats were Lib Dem. So how this issue will affect the politics of the country is anyone’s guess, perhaps Mebyon Kernow (the party of Cornwall) which I guess is the SNP’s Cornish equivalent will clean up. I for one hope so. If you are interested their website is:

I have been to Cornwall and found it to be a most delightful and friendly place, I was also keenly aware of the importance they place on their own individual national identity and to that end I have taken an interest in this subject. I have added to the blog list a number of sites and blogs where I think it would be nice for us Scots to show some solidarity and to that end I would invite you to have a look and maybe leave a message of support.

Please click on the article title above to be directed to a forum where you can leave your comments.

Pictured is the Tamar Bridge.


  1. Well, they have a choice, equal and fair constituencies or county boundaries.

    They may not like it, but, that's what will in all likelihood happen.

  2. Typical of London government of whichever colour. They ride all over the sensibilities of the constituent nations. Of course that is what you get when you govern for the convenience and comfort of the centre... and of yourself.

    Kernow should be a separate country. They are a distinct people like the Irish, Welsh, Manx and of course Scots, with different language and different culture and their own flag.

    To lump them in a cross border constituency is insensitive and wrong. It won’t work and all they are doing is storing up trouble for themselves.

    Very telling story. A radio commentator told of how he used to live in Kernow and travel up to London to make broadcasts from time to time. As is usual on railways in these islands, the train was frequently running late because of signal failures, broken points, lack of staff.... and the announcement used to come over the PA system that the train was running late because of “some trouble up in England”.

    I wish Mebyon Cornwall great success in their efforts to secure MPs for their country without straddling borders.

    One day I hope that the President of Kernow will be visiting Scotland on a state visit!

    (Incidentally, should there not be a HUGE reduction in the number of MPs in any case, while we are going through all this constitutional nonsense?)

  3. QM: I would dispute that constituency boundaries based solely on the number of people registered to vote rather than total adult populations was in any way fair. In my opinion it is simply the coalition re-gerrymandering things after years of Labour doing it to suit themselves. Whatever happened to New Politics where I thought we were going to see things done because they were right rather than for narrow party advantage?

    I think the people of Cornwall consider themselves to be a nation, they do after all have their own language, and to that end they would like their traditional border with England respected. An exception has been made for Orkney and Shetland and for the Western Isles so why not for Cornwall as well? The Tories and the Lib Dems love to bandy the word “respect” about but it seems to me it is more evident in abeyance than in practice.

  4. Tris: exactly so. Own flag, own language and own strong sense of national identity. Add that with a country that traditionally votes for one or other of the coalition partners and it’s a no brainer.

    The number of constituencies is to be reduced to 600 in time for the next election (pencilled in by the coalition for 2015). My understanding is that hitherto the Lib Dems had been very open to Cornish identity per se. But of course that went out of the window with PR, social justice and their anti-nuclear stance when the chance of a few ministerial limos was put on the table by their senior partners.

  5. Aye Munguin 600 is still 550 too many.

    LOL yeah, Liberal principles ... ha ha ha ha ha.

    It's a sad day when Boris the Haystack is standing up for the poor against the Liberal Democrat "leader".

  6. If you are trying to equalise constitutencies [in order to make votes be worth the same], how else would you manage it?

    Disenfranchise the poor? What? Are they not able to register to vote and therefore count? This seems the fairest way of ensuring each vote in this democracy has the same proportionate worth to each other.

    Currently, your vote is proportionately worth more if you vote in a rural seat - this has to change. Democracy itself demands action. This coalition is right to push for the greatest democratic measure since 1832.

    Once again, just like history shows, it is always the Tories and Liberals who have radically reformed our ancient democracy.

    Seems fair and democratic to me.

  7. Support costs nothing.

    New online publication.

  8. The ConDems said that they wished decentralize government yet what they are doing is centralizing.
    Old county boundaries were based on localism with there own capital town/city which fitted into the local environment and peoples needs. By continually changing these old established boundaries is a way of destroying the individual identity of all of regions into one britishness and should be stopped.

  9. Once upon a time you could beat individualism out of people from the reions (as they like to call us on teh Celtic Fring. now by insulting us you drive a wedge in, and even staunch unionists get angry, witness dean's piece on the overturning of Scots Law, by a court in London.

    But these people don't just not have vision, they don't even know what vision is!

  10. Well Dean when even your Tory Mayor of London thinks that thousands of people will be made itinerant by your Housing Benefit proposals, there for a start are a large number of the disenfranchised poor, because as I understand it you need an address to be a registered elector! And of course even if you are just shifting these people about from cheap flop house to cheap flop house the chances are registering to vote will be a low priority! In addition when you have health worries or poverty worries registering to vote as every thinking person knows is much further down your social agenda that if you are sitting in your stately pile throwing half of Epping Forrest on the fire and wondering whether to go to Mustique or Biarritz for your third holiday. So please don’t try that cheap hogwash on with me.

  11. Thanks CH I was looking for that link myself. I will now link the blog title above to it, so if people can simply click on the blog title above to go to the site and show your support.

  12. Munguin,

    The poor are not being disenfranchised, that is Labour hogwash you are spouting, you've spent too much time reading the Hootsman I think!

    But as for the housing benefit reform, I do not think it is unreasonable to cap housing benefit at £400 a week. That is more than enough to ensure a decent standard of living for the poorest, indeed lets not forget that that is being paid for by hard working 'poor' people earning the [shockingly low] UK average wage [which means 2/3 of all taxpayers funding that £400 are earning LESS that the average!].

    You lecture me on those in genuine need? When these reforms make welfare, and support benefits more and not less sustainable in a country with fewer resources to call upon than ever.

    No, I won't have that. It is not fair or good to continue to spend money the country doesn't have. Help the poorest, but proportionate to what our society can afford.

  13. Tris,

    I was livid over the overruling of the High Court. Scots law must once again get its independence, assured as per the Treaty of Union.

    It is outrageous that an English Court has overruled a Scots court - the highest court in Scots law whatsmore!

  14. Dean don't tell it to me, tell it to Boris Johnson! Seems to me its Tory hogwash as well, or is Boris back to being a cuddly idiot now that he is no longer the most senior elected Tory in the country?

  15. Thanks for highlighting this issue of crucial importance to Kernow. Would Wales or Scotland stand for sharing MP's with England? No. Then neither should the Duchy and Celtic nation of Cornwall.

    The Cornish Republican:

  16. Has he made his mind up yet?

  17. I've never seen so many ugly trolls and horrendous harridans as I've seen on the streets here tonight. Has the North British Branch of Labour moved their conference to Glasgow?

  18. Cornubian:

    I'm pretty sure that that would not be allowed to happen across the Welsh/English or Scottish/English border. It should not happen across the Kernow/England border either. The idea is preposterous.

    As Munguin pointed out there are to be exceptions to the "numbers" game, elsewhere, as indeed there should be. You can't hitch on a bit here and there just to make the numbers up. That’s part of the equation, but like numerical targets, it’s not the whole story.

    The government needs to remember that it works FOR the people. It is the servant of the people. Not the master.

    Anyway Cornubian, you are very welcome to the blog. I hope we’ll be able to highlight more Kernow issues as time goes by, and I hope that you’ll keep us apprised of what is going on.

  19. hey Brownlie...there weren't any ginger rodents were there...?

    If you want ugly, you should come to Dundee at about 2 am on a Sunday... pheeeewwwwww....

    UGLY....? It would turn milk sour!

  20. LOL cynical, spoilt for choice I'd say!

  21. Dean:

    Right there mate .... I commented on the court thing over at your place....

  22. Positioning himself is he Dean? Oh yes he is up for election next year. So it’s okay for him to go off message is it? Is that “respecting” the people of London then? No “New Politics” there either then? Just more old bullshit until he is re-elected! Well thanks for confirming what we all knew: that Tory promises like pie-crusts were made to be broken!

  23. Just who do the Tories "respect" Dean: not the Scots; not the Welsh; not the Cornish and not Londoners?? The list for that "respect agenda" is growing pretty thin.

  24. I just learned some Cornish:

    Onen hag Oll, Kernow bys vickan!

    It means One and All, Cornwall forever.

  25. Munguin

    The Torys respect ££££££££££££££££££££££

  26. Thanks Mr MixedPickle, but please we don’t have room for hypocrisy here. Tell me about Baroness Uddin and Lord Paul, what was it they respected?

  27. Dean said....

    " It is outrageous that an English Court has overruled a Scots court - the highest court in Scots law whatsmore! "

    It wasn't an English court. It was the 'UK Supreme Court' which has Scots, Welsh and English judges. And of course they were only following the 2008 'Turkish ruling' laid down by the ECHR.
    Are you sure you're going to classes Dean ?
    You keep saying you are but you never study and are always out of breath when you get home ;)

  28. It was in London. That's enough for me.

    Their law is not our law.

    Incidentally you say it is the UK supreme court, are there no irish judges on it?

    Or are they so unimportant they just don't count at all.

    We were promised that our law would remain a Scottish thing. As usual they broke that promise.

  29. tris said..

    " Incidentally you say it is the UK supreme court, are there no irish judges on it?"

    Err no because Ireland isn't part of the UK.
    Perhaps you meant Northern Ireland ? Yes sorry there are a couple of them in there aswell.

    " We were promised that our law would remain a Scottish thing. As usual they broke that promise. "

    Who promised all of this ?

  30. Well I know that teh Republic of Eire had the good sense to get itself out of the union. I was clearly talking about the Ulster part of Ireland, the bit that is a province of England, but still part of the UK. I'm really not THAT thick to imagine that the Irish republic should be represented on a London Court.

    The Act of Union promised our law would remain our law.

  31. tris said...

    " The Act of Union promised our law would remain our law. "

    Yes but only until the Scotland Devolution Bill in 1997. Scotland then agreed to be subservient to the ECHR and any laws that they proposed.
    The SNP seemed to ignore this glaring fact for 13 years. Two years ago they were told to give prisoners a fair crack of the whip and allow them access to a lawyer but they ignored the ECHR.
    I think Macaskill should cough up the millions that Scottish taxpayers must now pay for his incompetence.

  32. Dean's flatmate

    Tris is right on this - the Act of Union stated, and I quote: "remain in the same force as before". As for your weak excuse about the Scotland Act, it didn't end the supposed independence [if you'd bothered to actually familiarise yourself with it, you'd have realised this] -- the issue is that it was too vague in its wording and YOUR UK Supreme Court is able to not adjudicate Scots cases, but it can reinterpret the High Court rullings.

    P.S. if your a flatmate name yourself - and we can have a proper discussion about why Scotland should and must have an independent legal system; not least because our legal system is superior to English Law.

  33. p.s. it is an English Court in the sense that it is:

    a] in England, and
    b] applies English Law, it cannot adjudicate over Scots cases because it is English law

  34. Dean said...

    " p.s. it is an English Court "

    This isn't true. Tony Blair introduced the UK Supreme Court ( probably to keep gashface busy)

  35. Sorry but I have explained that it is an English court, it adjudicates over English law cases, and not Scots ones - why? Because it applies and is directly responsible for the adjudication of ENGLISH law.

  36. Dean said...

    " Sorry but I have explained that it is an English court"

    Ok Dean. You haven't followed my link so I won't waste my time re posting the link. If the UK Supreme Court makes a decision on access to a lawyer but it doesn't apply to Scotland ( despite the ruling being about a Scottish thug who knifed a Scottish guy) why are the SNP going into a frenzy to change their laws ?

  37. The Supreme Court does not adjudicate - however due to a lgal technicality in the wording of the Scotland Act, it, not the Scottish High Court, can interpret the way of implementing ECHR - in this case they did it by saying that suspects must have a right to their lawyer - regarding this as a 'fundamental' right.

    However this means that they have placed themselves above the Scottish High Court in terms of legal interpretation ... and have forced the SNP to alter Scots law.

    That is why, and the UK Supreme court made the rulling it did, because it came at it from an English law viewpoint ... where the right of access to a lawyer was already established within 6 hours of questioning.

    So what is your problem here? Are you arguing that the UK Supreme court isn't an English law court? [which it is, it cannot adjudicate over Scots law cases], or that the SNP had to amend Scots law for no reason? [which isn't true, they had to re-write it before the next week began because the rulling meant any arrest or detainment using previous - High Court approved - methods would make the trial case 'unsound', again due to UK Supreme court interpretation interference].

    And you still haven't answered my other question - who are you?

  38. I've just left the following message on the 38 Degrees website because it seems some people are missing the point!!!!

    Have John Ryder, Simon Lock, Tris Price-Williams, Nigel East, Matt B etc etc etc VOTED ? It seems not.

    The idea is that you VOTE!

  39. Cornbian:

    Sorry, it's a rather misleading thing... but it's done now.

    What's this about having 3 votes?

    Does it help if the same person votes three time?

  40. The SNP seemed to ignore this glaring fact for 13 years.


    In your world has the SNP been in government for 13 years?