On 27 October 2011 I gave evidence in person, at their invitation, to the Boundary Commission for England then in the process of carrying out a Parliamentary review. At the time their own proposal for the Greater Nottingham area looked like this (click on the map to enlarge):
I took their map and drew my own lines in blue and red so that it was easier to see their proposals.
I lived in Lenton in 2011 and the BC proposed a new 'Nottingham South & West Bridgford constituency' — which the national Labour Party did not oppose, but many local Party members like myself did. Our MP, Lilian Greenwood, asked me to see if I could come up with some alternative proposals — which I did.
The BC final recommendations were published in 2015 and had been changed to create a Nottingham South West and Beeston constituency. I like to think that my written evidence and the address I made in person influenced their decision. Here is what I said on 27 October 2011 in Derby:
'My Nottingham South West & Beeston proposed constituency.
I live in Lenton, which is a thriving inner-city community with its own ward and councillors (thanks to the efforts of local residents like myself and the support of some local councillors and our then MP).
As a community we actually gravitate south west to Nottingham University and Beeston. We are very much like the neighbouring ward of Wollaton East & Lenton Abbey, insomuch as in each ward some 70% of local residents are in full-time education and there are far more private landlords than there are owner-occupiers. We share the same bus routes (there is a bus every 2 minutes between Nottingham city centre, Lenton, Beeston and Chilwell)… The two main Nottingham University campuses are in Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey ward. The large Lenton Industrial Estate and the Boots complex straddle the Beeston – Lenton border.
I and countless others go to south west to Beeston or to the city centre to shop and socialise. We rarely go to West Bridgford, unless it is to a football or cricket match'.
The 2015 proposals died a death and when the next consultations began I was about to have major surgery and needed what energy I had to get through a day! The good news for me at the time was that the BC stuck with the idea of pulling Beeston into Nottingham South and many of the comments submitted supported the idea that Beeston should join Lenton and the city, rather than remain part of Broxtowe. Below is an extract from the BC's final recommendations map published earlier this week. There is a link to the BC's map here (click on the map to enlarge):
I admit to being fair chuffed at what I said, together with the evidence I submitted, in 2011 has stuck. At the time I was the only person who suggested pulling Beeston into Nottingham South. A few others submitted evidence in 2011 supporting my proposal.
I have to admit that I had lost track of what was happening, despite a couple of previous posts to Beeston Week about the Parliamentary boundary changes (see May 2015 and September 2016 posts).
A Labour Party member on Saturday asked 'What will this mean for Greg Marshall, the Party's prospective candidate for Broxtowe at the next general election?
Well, the proposals have to be adopted by Parliament before they come into effect at the next general election which, if Parliament runs its full term, will be 2022. However with 50 MPs disappearing that might persuade them to vote down the Government's support for the changes. After all the last set of proposals died a death, so why not these?
Labour politicians say that the proposed changes favour the Conservatives (which appears to be true) but the present constituency boundaries favour Labour and the SNP. What you get with a numbers based first past the post voting system is rough justice. Nottingham West and Beeston, as the new proposed constituency is named, is one of the larger ones in terms of numbers, despite that fact that should the student vote ever be persuaded to register, then we could be looking at a constituency of c.90,000 voters, the largest in England, if not Britain!
Now back to Greg Marshall. He could just move with Broxtowe and lose Beeston whilst gaining Hucknall and Lilian Greenwood loses Clifton and gains Beeston. It seems fair and simple enough and, in all honesty, I would have no problem with supporting Lilian, but I don't like the idea of Labour Party members having no direct say in who they choose as their prospective candidate, be it a council or a Parliamentary election — which means having open selection contests in every new constituency. A constituency wide vote as to whether Lilian gets it without a selection contest could result in a good few Beeston Labour Party members feeling less than happy at having no real say in who gets to be their candidate at the next (2022?) election.
Ideally I want this set of Boundary Commission for England proposals to die a death like the 2015 proposals. The best way for this to happen is a snap general election and, given the present state of things, it could happen!
I have been in the Labour Party since just before my 16th birthday in 1960 and, since 1961, a supporter of proportional representation. As I have said before I will accept the same 'added member system' as they use in Scotland and Wales, despite believing Party lists are anti-democratic from a voter's perspective.
I also think MPs should be elected for Parliamentary constituencies based on district and unitary council boundaries topped up to c.600 MPs by added MPs to ensure political parties which do not win seats under first past the post, but win lots of votes nationally, get a level of representation which fairly reflects that vote, but this is an argument for another day.
Right now I'm pleased with the outcome (if we have to have the unfair voting system we have). It has been a long time coming!