The Courier

Conservative bid to reduce number of MPs in Scotland branded ‘frankly astonishing’

Stewart Hosie.

A Dundee MP says it makes “absolutely no sense” to slash the number of Westminster seats in Scotland.

Officials have submitted their final proposals for a redrawn constituency map, which would reduce the total number of MPs from 650 to 600.

SNP politicians in Tayside and Fife are among the most exposed under proposals that would leave Scotland with six fewer MPs.

One of the most drastic suggestions is merging swathes of Dundee with Angus, leaving former SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie vulnerable.

Large parts of his Dundee East seat will be absorbed into the new constituency of Angus South and Dundee East, much of which is Tory territory.

Mr Hosie said the plans would be bad news for Scotland amid the turmoil of Brexit.

“Right now Scotland needs the maximum representation,” he told The Courier.

“The idea that we are going to drop the seats by another 10%, including splitting communities, putting parts of communities together that have never been in a constituency themselves before, makes absolutely no sense.”

The Boundary Commission for Scotland, which was tasked with coming up with the plan with colleagues in other parts of the UK, said it had made some changes to its revised proposals from last year.

That includes tweaks in Angus to “ward boundaries which were more likely to reflect local ties and be easily identifiable”.

There will still be nine constituencies covering Tayside and Fife, although they will reach out further to the north and west.

The SNP and Labour are opposed to the plans, which are likely to favour Tory MPs.

The Conservatives would have won an overall majority of 16 if the proposed boundaries had been in place at the 2017 general election, analysis by professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher commissioned by the BBC, ITV News, Sky News and the Press Association found.

Lesley Laird, Labour’s Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, said: “It is frankly astonishing that in the midst of their chaotic Brexit negotiations the Tories are still even contemplating pushing this nakedly partisan agenda.”

The UK Parliament voted in principle to cut the number of MPs in 2011, which includes a reduction in Scotland from 59 to 53.

In England, Jeremy Corbyn’s seat Islington North will be axed and Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge & Ruislip South seat will take in more Labour areas under the proposed shake-up.

Lord Matthews, deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, said: “We believe our final recommendations meet the requirements of the legislation governing the review and within those constraints fairly reflect the views expressed to us during our consultations.”

It will be up to MPs to decide whether to adopt the proposals.

Under the new rules, constituencies have to be within 5% of the UK electoral average or “quota” of 74,769, with exceptions made when the constituency is larger than 12,000 square kilometres.

Chloe Smith, the UK Constitution Minister said: “These reforms will ensure fair and equal representation for the voting public across the United Kingdom at the next general election.

“They have been drawn up by the independent and impartial Boundary Commissions following extensive consultation.

“Equalising the size of constituencies in the Boundary Review will ensure everyone’s vote will carry equal weight.

“Without such boundary reforms for fair votes, MPs could end up representing constituencies based on data that is over 20 years old, disregarding significant changes in demographics, house building and migration.”

 

Proposed constituencies in Courier Country

Angus South and Dundee East
Dundee
Kincardine and Angus North
Clackmannanshire and Dunfermline

Fife South
Mid Fife
North East Fife
Perth and North Perthshire
Stirlingshire, Strathearn and Kinross

 

Current constituencies in Courier Country

Angus – Kirstene Hair (Con)
Dundee East – Stewart Hosie
Dundee West – Chris Law

Ochil and South Perthshire – Luke Graham (Con)
Perth and North Perthshire – Pete Wishart (SNP)
North East Fife – Stephen Gethins (SNP)
Glenrothes – Peter Grant (SNP)
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – Lesley Laird (Lab)
Dunfermline and West Fife – Douglas Chapman (SNP)