Proposed Chiswick Boundary Changes 'Gerrymandering' Say Labour MPs

Could the next election see a battle between local Tory 'big hitters' to reclaim seat?

Current boundaries in blue, proposed boundaries in red


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The proposal for a new Brentford and Chiswick constituency, which could potentially see the seat returned to the Conservative party, has angered local Labour MPs, with Ruth Cadbury describing the proposed change as "gerrymandering."

The new changes could lead to a selection battle next year for the Conservative Party which might see former MP Mary Macleod (currently working in the Scottish Office), pitted against local hopeful James Cracknell, the former Olympic rower.

mary macleod former MP

Mary Macleod

Ruth Cadbury currently represents the constituency of Brentford & Isleworth but the proposed new constituency would make changes which could favour the Conservative Party. Chiswick has nine Conservative councillors in Hounslow Council and is a marginal constituency.

Local sources say that there are many local supporters of Mary Macleod who would like to see her return to politics, and say it is possible she could win back the seat given the narrow gap between her and Ruth Cadbury at last year's election.Mary lost her seat by 465 votes. They point to her popularity in Chiswick and strong body of local constituency work.

Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith in visit to Chiswick with James Cracknell Olympian rower and Conservative Party local official

James Cracknell pictured with Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith in W4

However there is also a growing body of support for James Cracknell, who has been trying to break into politics for some years and was recently elected to the local constituency party, pledging to 'win the seat back' for the Tories. He has been unsuccessful in his attempts to be selected as a candidate for the European Elections and has been working steadily in the local constituency party. He is also a Chiswick resident with a high profile, married to journalist/broadcaster Beverley Turner.

The current split between the parts of Chiswick in Ealing and Hounslow Borough would disappear with Ealing’s Southfield ward moved out of the Ealing Central and Acton constituency to the current Brentford and Isleworth constituency which would be renamed Brentford and Chiswick. A new Chiswick and Brentford constituency would include the seven Hounslow wards that make up the Brentford and Isleworth constituency plus Southfield ward and the Ealing borough ward of Northfield which is currently in the Ealing Southall constituency.

However it would remain to be seen how votes from the Southfield ward, currently held by the Liberal Democrats, would transfer to the Conservatives in a national election. It is also worth noting that the thousands of new residents to the areas under development by Kew Bridge and Brentford, could potentially bring new conservatives votes back to the constituency, according to one local CP source.

Ruth Cadbury

Representation at borough Council level would continue as is with Southfield ward still part of Ealing borough.

Commenting Ruth Cadbury said, "These proposals are undemocratic boundary-fixing by a Tory government determined to secure a permanent majority in the House of Commons. They want to cut the number of MPs but are happy to stuff the House of Lords with their unelected friends. What's more, Hounslow will no longer have two MPs whose seats fit neatly with the borough boundaries.

"When these proposals return to Parliament, we will oppose this gerrymandering - cutting the number of elected MPs whilst increasing the number of unelected peers."

Cllr Peter Thompson, Leader of Hounslow Conservative Group said, “We have to have regular boundary reviews for a simple geographical reason: Voters move and populations change. Without them MPs would end up representing constituencies based on data that is over 20 years old. Ruth and Rupa may cry foul, but this is not gerrymandering. I don’t see how you can justify a situation when parliamentary seats can vary in size from 21,000 to 108,000 voters? Are they really against plans to even out the sizes of constituencies? I can’t see too many people complaining about the plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 either!"

Rupa Huq commented, "We in the Labour party are opposing these changes as unnecessary and unfair. The Tories claimed they wanted to cut the cost of politics but they have flooded Parliament with peers – 16 in the resignation honours of Cameron alone (a PM who seems to have left the crime scene completely) all with a daily allowance of £300 as well as gongs for Samantha Cameron’s stylist and prizes for Remain campaigners thereby rewarding failure. It doesn’t add up, has been done as a gerrymander to damage Labour and we will fight this all the way."

The rules set out in the legislation on boundary changes state that there will be 600 Parliamentary constituencies covering the UK – a reduction of 50 from the current number. This means that the number of constituencies in England must be reduced from 533 to 501.

Each constituency has to have an electorate that is no smaller than 71,031 and no larger than 78,507

The Boundary Commission are consulting on their initial proposals for a 12-week period, from 13 September 2016 to 5 December 2016. Their website has more information about how to respond as well as details of where and when they will be holding public hearings.

September 17, 2016

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