Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Say hello, wave goodbye - the boundary proposals for Gateshead

I attended the Gateshead East Lib Dem branch meeting to give a report as Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council last night. An interesting discussion took place on the boundary proposals for the Gateshead constituencies. I have to confess, I had not had time to see them before going to the meeting so members there gave me the details. Given the Parliamentary arithmetic of the current House of Commons, it is not clear yet whether or not the DUP, or indeed many Conservatives, will allow the proposals to go through. It may be a case of saying hello to them and then waving them goodbye, just like the Soft Cell song that takes me back to the 1980s. Nevertheless, we need to proceed on the basis that they will be implemented.

The previous proposals of the Boundary Commission, which were put forward last year effectively took a wrecking ball to Blaydon constituency. Two towns in the constituency would have been split up, one ward was to be joined up with a gigantic Durham county constituency the size of a small country and a chunk of Newcastle was to be added in. A large part of Gateshead constituency was due to be merged with Jarrow but individual wards would have been flung off elsewhere. There would not be a single constituency that would have been wholly in Gateshead. Dog's dinner is a description that springs to mind.

The revised proposals show some improvement. There is now to be a Gateshead West constituency based geographically on Whickham and the Team Valley. Blaydon will be less fragmented but loses Birtley and Whickham to Gateshead West while picking up 5 wards in western Newcastle and Burnopfield from County Durham. The 5 wards in the Felling area becomes part of Jarrow (not that unusual a move as two of the wards are already in that constituency.)

There will now follow 6 weeks of shouting, grumbling, unhappiness and so on during the consultation on the proposals. Assuming they go forward to be implemented, and at the moment that's quite a big assumption, watch out for the bloodbath as Labour use the opportunity to cull their more sensible social democrat MPs in favour of those who are lovingly signed up to the Corbynistas' socialist revolution (Venezuela style).

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