The Independent London Newspaper
23rd May 2019

MP Tulip Siddiq: Tories are 'gerrymandering electoral map' with boundary changes proposal

    Tulip Siddiq was elected to the House of Commons for the first time last year

    Published: 13 September, 2016

    CAMDEN MPs today (Tuesday) hit out at plans to change the boundaries of their parliamentary constituencies with Tulip Siddiq claiming the alterations were an “attempt to gerrymander the electoral map”.

    The Hampstead and Kilburn MP spoke out after learning that her seat is facing a major facelift with the loss of some Labour controlled areas in Kilburn in exchange for Tory-held wards across the borough border in Hampstead Garden Suburb, potentially making it harder for her to retain her place in the House of Commons next time the country goes to the polls.

    The changes were proposed in a report published by the Boundary Commission, which says the constituencies across the country are too uneven in size. Tories said the changes would lead to a fairer election, dismissing the Labour criticism as hysterical.

    Ms Siddiq, the Labour MP who holds a majority of 1,138 following her maiden win at last May’s general election, said: “What we are seeing from the Tory Boundary Review is an attempt to gerrymander the electoral map. They say that they want to 'reduce the cost of politics', while at the same time stuffing the House of Lords with their cronies. As London's population grows, we should have more representation for those who need it, not less..”

    She will gain the council ward of Highgate, currently split between Labour and the Greens, as Highgate is reconnected with Hampstead. If the changes are approved, Camden, however, could move to having three MPs with a stake in the borough.

    Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer is unlikely to face a harder task at future elections but warned today (Tuesday) that thousands of voters would be “disenfranchised”.

    Under the changes, Mr Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions who succeeded Frank Dobson as MP in Holborn and St Pancras, would lose Highgate from his territory and all of the wards south of the Euston Road.

    He would be shielded, however, by the gain of Labour-dominated wards around Tufnell Park, currently in party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North seat. A new constituency taking in central London areas above the Thames would cover parts of Holborn and Bloomsbury.

    Mr Starmer said: “The boundary review will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters – particularly those in already unregistered groups – and it clearly favours one party above others. As MP for Holborn and St Pancras, I am very concerned that the review proposes that Highgate, Bloomsbury and Holborn and Covent Garden wards would no longer be part of my constituency. I have been working hard with residents in all three wards on a host of important issues and would like to continue to represent them. I am also very worried about the unfair changes that appear to be proposed in neighbouring Hampstead and Kilburn.”

    He added: “Local communities now have a chance to voice their views about this proposals. I hope the Boundary Commission and the Government listen to local concerns and ensure constituency boundaries are decided fairly.”

    Conservative councillor Oliver Cooper said: "I welcome the creation of a parliamentary constituency for Hampstead.  It better reflects the fact that most of north-west London’s transport links – such as Finchley Road and the Northern line – are north-south, not east-west, and unites the areas surrounding Hampstead Heath. It's sad to see Camden's MPs resort to party-political drivel.  Boundary reviews have been conducted by independent civil servants at the Boundary Commission since 1944.  This is the sixth review under that process.  Those reviews are conducted impartially, with no control by politicians or the government."
    He added: "Labour didn’t complain when the fifth boundary review created Hampstead and Kilburn: probably because the Conservatives would have won an unchanged Hampstead and Highgate.  Labour also didn’t complain when the abortive 2012 review would've torn Belsize and Fortune Green out of Hampstead and Kilburn: moves that local residents and the Conservatives fought against to preserve our community. This review is only different to previous reviews in that it requires all parliamentary constituencies to have the same number of voters.  Labour-held seats have had smaller electorates than Conservative seats at every election since 1959, with the average Labour MP representing 5,000 fewer voters than each Conservative.  Seats being equal sized means every vote carries equal weight.  That’s not gerrymandering – that’s democracy."


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