Sunday, May 23, 2010

Alistair Carmichael's legacy to his constituency : abolition

Interesting to read in this article that the coalition's plans for a 10% reduction in the number of MPs and for "more equally-sized constituencies" do not, at least at present, provide any exemptions for obvious special cases, such as island communities. Tellingly, the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight - where electors are in principle under-represented due to the size of the constituency - is campaigning against the move, on the grounds of a loss of identity. But what about the other end of the spectrum, where the inhabitants of Scotland's furthest-flung island communities face being swallowed up into mammoth constituencies, incorporating chunks of the mainland with which they have little direct connection?

I can understand that the Liberal Democrats wouldn't give a monkey's about the demise of the SNP-Labour battleground seat of Na h-Eileanan an Iar (although they might feel differently if Angus MacNeil gets the better of the Lib Dems in any newly-merged seat). But what about Orkney and Shetland, a rock solid Liberal seat even in the wilderness years? The islanders finally get their local MP into government after all these decades, and the 'power dividend' is...swift abolition. Nice work, Mr Carmichael.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that a constituency of the size, and difficulty of travel of the Western Isles +, or the Northern Isles +, is totally unmanageable, and an increase in their sizes would be plain stupid. Not that that means it won't happen. We're talking Westminster after all

    I'm all for a reduction in the number of constituencies, and I have to say that logically that means that Scotland, Wales and NI where MPs have responsibility for so few things, MUST surely take more than their share of this, but when a ferry is the only realistic way to get about, and the MP only has a weekend to try to see his constituents and his family and friends, and bad weather comes into the equation, I really feel that the islands would have to be excused.