Boundaries and Bias (18 May 2005)
Some more entrants to the ‘nonsense about boundaries’ file from the Sunday Telegraph , Scotland on Sunday and their columnist Gerald Warner (who should probably lie down in a darkened room until the feelings go away).
I’ll leave the Scotland question for a later entry, but consider this fact. In 2005 the average English Conservative seat had 73,221 electors and the average English Labour seat had 67,671 electors. Shocking, says the chorus… but hang on. In 1979 the average English Conservative seat had 69,923 electors – and the average English Labour seat had 61,150. The boundaries were therefore much more biased in 1979 than 2005 (a difference of 14.3% rather than 8.2%). But the system as a whole operated much more fairly between the main parties in 1979 than it did in 2005.
To paraphrase that famous sign from the Little Rock campaign war room in 1992: It’s Not the Boundaries, Stupid.
If you want a system that rewards parties systematically in relation to the votes they obtain, you cannot guarantee this outcome under FPTP whatever the boundaries. You need a proportional system. It’s that simple.