Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Paging Dr Mander...

Well, the first move has been made in what looks like a pretty tight election year in the States. Tom DeLay ("The Hammer") has won the primary in Texas. DeLay's real fight is with the Democrats challenger, but the real problem is with the American electoral system. Texas is gerrymandered to hell, as we can see by the district map (the yellow bits are GOP 'marginals'). These peculiar shapes (19 is my favourite) have been carved out of the Texas map by the Republican re-districting. And if you think this looks bad, it's worth remembering that until this redistricting, the Democrats, with about 35% of the vote, held the majority of seats in the Texas legislature.

It's a graphic example of what happens when party politics determines constituencies. Texas is by no means the worst example either - try looking at Californian districts - but it is fairly representative. I think only Iowa (or some other fly-over) has done the decent thing and gone for apolitical boundaries that don't look like a cracker-puzzle.

And yet, the British model doesn't look too good either. The Isle of Wight is twice as big as David Blunkett's Sheffield seat; Tory constituencies average 10,000 more voters than Labour ones; Scotland is still grotesquely over-represented even without factoring in the Scottish Parliament. The current boundary redesign is marginal at best, and already five years out of date before its inception.

A radical solution is called for. There are far too many MPs as it is. The chamber only seats some 450, when there are 650 MPs. So, simple, just axe 200 seats (mainly in the sparsely populated north of the country and in the deserted inner-cities) and have 450 MPS. Unfortunately the words Turkeys and Christmas spring to mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it will be interesting to see how the electoral map of the UK is changed in the event of a Lib / Lab coalition depending on the votes of the welsh and scots after the next election.

whatever the outcome it is bound to be bad for Britain.

4:18 pm  

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