The boundary review: Manipulation of the electoral system
First published in the Brighton and Hove Independent November 27, 2015
Lloyd Russell-Moyle is a Brighton resident and the former Labour Parliamentary Candidate in the Lewes Constituency. He has been coordinating the campaign for voter registration on behalf of the Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party.
On Tuesday, the starting gun for transforming Brighton and Hove into a Tory stronghold will be sounded.
When the new electoral register is published it is estimated that more than 25,000 people will have their right to vote removed, taking the total electorate down to around 190,000 people in the city. This is happening because the government has brought the deadline forward for people to re-register to vote by one year.
Anyone the council fails to match against the national insurance database may face removal from the register – even if they voted in May 2015.
It has been widely reported that a ratio 2:1 of Labour vs Tory voters are being removed from the register. Those hardest hit by the changes is set to be students, young people, those living in the rented sector, and those with lower English skills.
In Brighton and Hove the highest drops in numbers are expected to be in the following areas: Hollingdean and Stanmer (Pavilion); Moulsecoomb and Bevendean (Kemptown); Brunswick and Adelaide (Hove); Regency (Pavilion); Preston Park (Pavilion); Hannover and Elm Grove (Pavilion); St Peter’s and North Laine (Pavilion); Central Hove (Hove); Goldsmid (Hove); and Queens Park (Kemptown).
MP numbers will be reduced from 650 to 600 and all constituency boundaries are to be redrawn.
Previously the Independent Boundary Commission used many data sources such as census data, but now they are only allowed to look at the December 1 register, even if they know there are more people eligible to vote living in the area. Based on last year’s numbers constituencies would have to be between 80,000 and 73,000 voters.
How will this affect our constituencies? Kemptown at 68,000 voters is already too small and will need to expand further into East Sussex. Hove too, with 73,000 will likely be at risk of being extended into West Sussex. Pavilion looks safer with 76,000 voters but last year the registered voters dropped by 10% (the 9th largest fall in the UK).
Five of the 10 wards with the highest reduction in registration are in Pavilion, meaning another 10% drop in numbers is likely and would mean Pavilion being extended north into Mid Sussex. While we don’t know the result of the boundary redrawing, it could make it impossible to elect anyone other than Conservative MPs in Brighton and Hove.
The UK could return up to 50 more Conservative MPs on the same vote we had in May 2015. If the people of Brighton and Hove really do choose Conservative MPs exclusively, then I accept the democratic result. However, what is currently happening is a cynical manipulation of our electoral system.
The Labour Party has been out every day in the last month ensuring people are registered to vote and we will fight to ensure that your votes are not discarded.