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1  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Life peerage (UK) on: May 20, 2016, 03:03:48 pm
The Crown does have a prerogative power to create life peers, who could be of any degree of the peerage. The last monarch to use this non statutory power was Queen Victoria. The House of Lords decided, in the Wensleydale peerage case in 1856, that a life peer had no right to sit in the House of Lords. Lord Wensleydale had to be given a regular hereditary peerage, so he could sit in the Lords.

Subsequent life peers have been created under statutory authority, so they did have seats in the House of Lords. These life peers have to be of the degree of a baron.
2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: May 08, 2016, 03:48:38 am
Everyone be prepared to laugh at this by-election for the HoL with an electorate of ... Three people.

See how fast democracy has changed the House of Lords, just as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith's ancestor promised. The preamble to the Parliament Act 1911 included these stirring words.

And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation:

I thought the idea of the Blair govt's HoL reforms was to retain only the hereditary peers who were actually worth the job and get rid of the rest, and then let those remaining 92 die off until there were no hereditaries left?

The Blair government's original idea was to have no hereditary peers in the reformed House of Lords. The "system" which now exists was the product of negotiations between the leader of the Conservative peers (Viscount Cranborne, now the Marquess of Salisbury) and the government. Salisbury was doing a deal without the knowledge of the Leader of the Opposition, which led to some amusing scenes in the House of Commons and to Salisbury being dismissed from his post. The deal however stuck.

Extract from Hansard, 2 December 1998.

Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) Can the Prime Minister confirm that he is happy to see nearly 100 hereditary peers continue to sit in the House of Lords after his forthcoming Bill on the Lords has been enacted?
§The Prime Minister I am delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman's question. It is an indication that he is 875 now prepared to agree to what would remove hereditary peers altogether, in the two stages, from the House of Lords. If he is now prepared to agree that, we are certainly prepared to agree it; and we shall then have the chance of getting a fully reformed second Chamber without any hereditary peers at all.
§Mr. Hague Will the Prime Minister confirm, because his party may not be aware of what he is talking about on this subject, that for some weeks the Lord Chancellor has been approaching the Conservative party with a proposal to keep a proportion of the hereditary peers, explicitly sitting as hereditary peers, not as life peers, in exchange for my party's acquiescence in the rest of his ill-thought-out change? Although we welcome the huge climbdown on his part, we are not prepared to acquiesce in that change, because we are not prepared to join forces with him on major constitutional change that is based on no comprehensive plan or principle.
§The Prime Minister That is extremely interesting. Yes, we are certainly prepared to agree to a proposal that would allow us to remove the hereditary peers altogether, in two stages. We are perfectly prepared to agree that in the first stage one in 10 hereditaries stays, and in the second stage they go altogether. It is also entirely true that we were prepared to discuss that with the right hon. Gentleman's party. I thought that we had the agreement of the leader of his party in the House of Lords. Indeed, I believe that we have that agreement. [Interruption.] Will the right hon. Gentleman enlighten us whether we have his agreement?
§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister has just had the answer to that. He told the House—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. The House will come to order, so that we can hear what hon. Members are saying.
§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister said in the Queen's Speech debate last week: We believe … that it is important to deliver on the pledge that we made to end the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords.—[Official Report, 24 November 1998; Vol. 321, c. 33.] He said that their existence was a "democratic monstrosity". [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] His party still agrees with that. Now he is proposing to keep hereditary peers in a stage 1 reform—[Interruption.] It is no good Labour Members shaking their heads. What they do not know is that the Prime Minister proposes to keep hereditary peers in a stage 1 reform of the House of Lords. Where does that leave his principles?
§The Prime Minister I take it from that that the right hon. Gentleman opposes the deal that has been agreed by the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords. As a result, we will indeed remove hereditary peers. We will do it by consensus, stage 1 and then stage 2, so that we can ensure that there is room in the legislative programme for other measures as well.
We are agreed on our side. I believe that the party of the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) will agree also. His party in the House of Lords has now agreed. It is clear from this exchange that the right 876 hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) no longer speaks for the Conservative party in the House of Lords.

§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister need be in no doubt who speaks for the Conservative party. Clearly, he is in no doubt that he speaks for the Liberal party and takes its acquiescence for granted. While we believe that his agreement to retain hereditary peers after stage 1 is a huge climbdown on the part of the Government, let me make it clear to him that we believe it is wrong to embark on fundamental change to the Parliament of this country without any idea where that will lead.
We have said before and we say now: no stage 1 reform without stage 2. Do not the Prime Minister's total lack of principle and his horse-trading confirm that it is common sense to put that reform on hold and await the report of the royal commission?

§The Prime Minister No. What is common sense is to get the thing done with as little fuss and as easily as possible, which we can now do. It is fascinating that the right hon. Gentleman is disowning the agreement that has been entered into by the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords. He may want to be in that position, but I doubt very much whether his party wants to be in that position. When he is provided with the means of getting reform through and agreed, he is more interested in playing games about the House of Lords than getting it done. Does he disown the deal made by the leader in the House of Lords, or does he agree with it? We should be told.
§Mr. Hague No deal has been made with the Conservative party. The deal to keep hereditary peers that the Prime Minister has tried to negotiate with the Conservative party does not address the fundamental point that the Government should not embark on major constitutional change without knowing where it leads. His proposal does not even satisfy the one principle in which he said that he was always in favour: the removal of hereditary peers.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have approached reform of the House of Lords on the basis of a clear principle. Our position was "No reform without knowing where it is going"; until today, theirs was the removal of hereditary peers. Does that not demonstrate that the Prime Minister never had any principle on the matter at all?

§The Prime Minister In fact, it proves that, even when hereditary Conservative peers are prepared to agree to change, the right hon. Gentleman is not. That is the absurd position to which he has reduced himself. If anything demonstrates the way in which the right hon. Gentleman gets every major strategic judgment wrong, it is this.
We have the opportunity to reform the House of Lords properly, and to establish a programme that will remove hereditary peers, but will allow us to do that on the broadest possible basis of agreement. It is clear that nowadays, even when we speak to the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords, we cannot be sure that the leader of the Conservative party in this House is of the same mind.

§Mr. Hague What we know is that the Prime Minister intends to turn the House of Lords into a house of cronies, 877 and that he is now prepared to engage in any horsetrading that is necessary to achieve that end. It is beyond his comprehension that any politician can stand on a principle, and stand firm in his beliefs. I stand on the principle—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. I have heard enough noise this afternoon.
§Mr. Hague rose—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. If this continues, I shall send some Members out of the Chamber.
§Mr. Hague I stand on the principle that it is not advisable for anyone to blunder in regard to the constitution until they know where they are going. After today, it will be clear that the Prime Minister stands on no principle whatever.
§The Prime Minister I cannot prevent the right hon. Gentleman from engaging on a kamikaze mission. I can only tell him that even his cronies in the House of Lords agree with me that we should try to get this reform through. If we can manage to get it through with the minimum difficulty, it will be in the interests of the country that demands such action.
3  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: May 08, 2016, 02:35:03 am
I thought that once a Hereditary Lord died, then the election would be about selecting a formerly kicked out family of Lords and inviting one of them back into the House? It seems terribly complicated.

More or less. The complication comes because the electorate for House of Lords by-elections is not all the hereditary peers who would have had seats but for the House of Lords Act 1999, but just those hereditary peers currently serving as such in the House of Lords. Some of the hereditary peers represent party groups, so only the other serving peers from that group get to vote. There are just not that many Labour or Liberal Democrat  hereditary peers so you get two or three voters filling vacancies.

The Conservative vacancies or those for which all the hereditary peers in the House vote, have somewhat more substantial electorates.
4  General Discussion / History / Re: Who was the greatest statesman in South Carolina's history? on: May 04, 2016, 03:59:30 am
How about Henry Laurens, active in South Carolina's revolutionary era government and President of the Continental Congress in 1777-1778. Captured whilst travelling to Europe on a diplomatic mission and spent 15 months imprisoned in the Tower of London. Someone who genuinely suffered for his political beliefs not just the sort of demagogue most later SC politicians seem to have been.

Failing that option, I would suggest James F. Byrnes. He was South Carolina's greatest statesman and leading federal politician of the 20th century and a far less controversial figure than his leading challenger Strom Thurmond.
5  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK parliamentary boundary review 2016-2018 on: May 03, 2016, 03:28:07 pm
This exercise is due to be repeated every five years from now on. It remains to be seen if Parliament will let the boundary review be finished and implemented this time.

Cameron only has a small overall majority. There are far more Conservative MPs who would be adversely affected by the review than would be needed to erase the majority.

As the House of Commons would need to pass a resolution to approve the orders in council, to give effect to the new boundaries, it is not impossible that they would be rejected.
6  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: United Kingdom Referendum on European Union Membership on: May 03, 2016, 03:04:50 pm
The Democratic Accountability part of the 5-President's Report does not seem to envisage anything which would actually create democratic accountability.

It is not directly relevant to the present UK referendum, but I would suggest that democratic accountability would only be improved by abolishing the Commission and the Council (in its executive role) and replacing them with a European Union government responsible to the European Parliament. The Council and the Parliament could then take there proper democratic roles as a bicameral legislature, with each body having at the very least equal powers and the full right to initiate and amend legislation on any European Union competence.

My suggestions may not deal with the objection that there can be no true democratic accountability, because there is no real European polity. It is far more likely to create something useful than the bureaucratic and diplomatic waffle of the 5-President's Report.
7  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Australian Federal Election, 2016 on: April 21, 2016, 07:37:34 pm
Hi.  Someone will have to explain how the Senate elections work in Australia.  It seems they are for 6 year terms with half each up every 3 years.  But it seems that every-time there is a general election for the House half the Senate is up for re-election as well.  I get this time it is a double dissolution where everyone in the Senate is up for election.  But traditionally how do they square the fact that it it not clear that every House election occurs every 3 years but the Senate term is 6 years.  I think that the way it works is that every other House election half the Senators are up for re-election.  Did I get that right ?

I imagine that if they were to get out of sync, than the Senate elections would still happen separately.

Yes.  That would make sense and match how they doing things in Japan where there is an Upper House election every 3 years no matter what.  The problem is I cannot find an example of an Australian Senate election being held by itself without involving the House. 

There were three between 1964 and 1970.

There are some complications. A Senate term is supposed to start on 1 July. A half Senate election has to be held no more than one year before the 1 July when the term starts. This can lead to long delays before newly elected Senators take office. Australian Prime Ministers usually have House and half Senate elections on the same day, but the two can get out of sequence so separate elections have to be held.

A double dissolution causes more complications. The notional 3 and 6 year terms resulting from the whole Senate election are calculated from the last 1 July before the election, so the actual terms served are shorter than the notional ones. An extract from Section 13 of the Constitution explains what happens.

For the purpose of this section the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of July following the day of his election, except in the cases of the first election and of the election next after any dissolution of the Senate, when it shall be taken to begin on the first day of July preceding the day of his election.
8  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: April 21, 2016, 09:53:35 am
Everyone be prepared to laugh at this by-election for the HoL with an electorate of ... Three people.

See how fast democracy has changed the House of Lords, just as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith's ancestor promised. The preamble to the Parliament Act 1911 included these stirring words.

And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation:
9  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Canada joins the USA as 10 new states and 3 territories on: April 13, 2016, 04:58:34 pm
This North American union is difficult to imagine, as it would reverse the whole of Canadian history.

If the merger was brought about by force, I would have thought that Canada would be like Ireland under British rule. A constant risk of rebellions and terrorist outrages. If anything like democratic elections were permitted, there would be a bloc of Canadian nationalists who would adamantly oppose all American parties (unless they were willing to pay a high price for Canadian support) and be as disruptive as possible in Congress.

Why should the Canadian nationalists not contest Presidential elections? They would represent a significant number of electoral votes, which if the American parties were narrowly divided, could be bartered to decide the outcome of the election. This would be something like the southern Democrats letting the Republicans steal the 1876 Presidential election in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops and a share of the patronage.

What politics would have led up to a consensual merger of Canada into the United States is unimaginable. It would presumably have massively realigned the Canadian party system. Perhaps the dynamic would be like the reunification of Germany, with a political system similar but less predictable than that of pre unification West Germany.
10  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why Did Hatch and Grassley Switch Chairmanships? on: April 13, 2016, 04:17:16 pm
The Republican conference has a term limits rule, for committee chairmanships. Normally a Senator can only serve six years as ranking minority member/chairman of a particular committee.

The Democratic conference has no such term limit rule.
11  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Why can't large urban areas be conservative? on: February 19, 2016, 09:38:24 am
When the Roman Empire withdrew from the British Isles in the year 410 it led fairly rapidly to the decay of urban settlements. Even a major city, with an advantageous location like Londinium, could not sustain itself. It was only when Anglo-Saxon Kings began to fortify settlements  that urban life revived on any large scale. Extract from the Wikipedia article on Anglo-Saxon London.

Romano-British Londinium had been abandoned in the late 5th century, although the London Wall remained intact. There was an Anglo-Saxon settlement by the early 7th century, called Lundenwic, about one mile away from Londinium. Lundenwic came under direct Mercian control in about 670. After the death of Offa of Mercia in 796, it was disputed between Mercia and Wessex.

Viking invasions became frequent from the 830s, and a Viking army is believed to have camped in the old Roman walls during the winter of 871. Alfred the Great re-established English control of London in 886, and renewed its fortifications. The old Roman walls were repaired and the defensive ditch was re-cut, and the city now became known as Lundenburh, marking the beginning of the history of the City of London. Sweyn Forkbeard attacked London unsuccessfully in 996 and 1013, but his son Cnut the Great finally gained control of London, and all of England, in 1016.

All of which supports the idea that you need quite a strong degree of social organisation to sustain an urban culture. If that social organisation disappears the cities crumble.

I am not sure that any American would want the degree of mass destruction that would be needed to de-urbanise North America for a few centuries.
12  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Presidential and congressional terms don't start/end the same day on: December 10, 2015, 08:58:47 am
I think the idea was that if Congress had to hold a contingent election for President or Vice President (if the Electoral College had not produced a majority winner), it would be a newly elected Congress rather than one about to expire that performed the task. This may be unlikely to happen, in modern conditions, but it seems a sensible precaution. 
13  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: White South African Vote on: November 16, 2015, 07:59:01 am
I got the impression that just about the whole spectrum of white South African politics, apart from the very far left and right, ended up in the Democratic Alliance. A few of the younger ex National Party politicians joined the ANC at one time but presumably they did not represent a large block of voters.

There seems to be one current white cabinet minister (Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry) who ,from his Wikipedia article, has a Communist as well as an ANC background. I presume that he does not enjoy substantial support in the South African white electorate.
14  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian by-elections, 2015 on: November 12, 2015, 08:27:47 am
British Columbia provincial politics seems to have a strong tendency to produce one hegemonic anti-NDP party at a time, with other alternative anti-NDP parties relegated to irrelevance. This process does not seem to operate at the federal level, perhaps because the federal NDP in BC are not as much of a threat as the provincial NDP who are serious contenders for power.
15  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK local by-elections 2015 on: October 23, 2015, 11:01:05 am
Labour gained 2% in Chandler's Ford. The Corbyn landslide is building.
16  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian federal election - October 19, 2015 (Official Campaign Thread) on: September 29, 2015, 04:30:07 am
I've noticed that it's commonplace for leaders to just switch language in the middle of their sentience, is there some equal language speaking rule?

No, that's common for all bi-lingual politicians in Canada -- especially during debates in the House of Commons.

I have read a biography of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which from memory mentioned that in the 19th century the House of Commons had a rule against switching between the French and English languages in mid-speech. It was with reference to a bi-lingual politician who, after being interrupted, continued his remarks in the other language than the one he had been using previously.
17  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: September 19, 2015, 04:39:31 pm
I do not see that a Labour minority government, dependent upon SNP acceptance that a Labour government would be better than a Conservative one, would be impossible.

The British hostility to Irish nationalism, in 1886-1914, was considerably stronger than English antipathy to the SNP. It did not prevent Liberal minority governments being formed in 1892-95 and 1910-14.
18  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: July 31, 2015, 03:19:56 pm
As a brief response to the discussion about land ownership in England, the legal theory which underlies the modern law is that all the land in England is owned by the crown.

The only legal interests in land, which a subject of the crown can have, is an estate. The Law of Property Act 1925 tidied up the law by permitting only two kinds of legal estate. From the first part of the text of the Act.


1 Legal estates and equitable interests.

(1)The only estates in land which are capable of subsisting or of being conveyed or created at law are—
(a)An estate in fee simple absolute in possession;
(b)A term of years absolute.

The two estates are usually referred to as freehold and leasehold respectively. A freehold estate is not in legal theory ownership of the land itself, but for all practical purposes it is treated as if it were. This has been the position for more than seven hundred years.

An extract from the Wikipedia article on fee simple, summarises the historic position.

In English common law, the Crown has radical title or the allodium of all land in England, meaning that it is the ultimate "owner" of all land. However, the Crown can grant ownership in an abstract entity—called an estate in land—which is what is owned rather than the land it represents. The fee simple estate is also called "estate in fee simple" or "fee-simple title", sometimes simply "freehold" in England and Wales. From the start of the Norman period, when feudalism was introduced to England, the tenant or "holder" of a fief could not alienate (sell) it from the possession of his overlord. However, a tenant could separate a parcel of the land and grant it as a subordinate fief to his own sub-tenant, a process known as sub-enfeoffing or "subinfeudation". The 1290 Statute of Quia Emptores abolished subinfeudation and instead allowed the sale of fee simple estates.[2]
19  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canadian federal election - 2015 on: July 13, 2015, 07:28:59 am
Would Canadians find a situation, like that in 1924 in the UK, where the second largest party forms a minority government and dares the third largest party not to bring it down; more acceptable than a coalition or formal agreement between the second and third largest parties?

The Labour Party strategy in 1924 was to demonstrate they could form a credible government, whilst deliberately refusing to do deals with the Liberals. This had the effect of limiting the ability of that Labour government to do very much legislatively, but cemented Labour's status as one of the two leading parties in future Parliaments. The UK Liberal Party never recovered major party status, although in the form of the Liberal Democrats it continues to exist.

20  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Is there any hope for UK Labor? on: June 14, 2015, 02:12:43 pm
The modern British party political era started in 1922. Since that time there have only been three possible types of UK governments.

1. An anti-Conservative government, consisting of Labour alone or with Labour as the largest component in its support.

2. An anti-Labour administration, consisting of the Conservatives alone or as the largest party supporting it.

3. A ministry supported by both Labour and Conservative politicians (with or without the support of others).

Before 1922 the situation was the same with Liberal substituted for Labour. This demonstrates that the future is not necessarily identical to the past, but that there is enormous inertia built into the system.

Even adopting major electoral reform would not necessarily change the above state of affairs. In New Zealand, after the adoption of mixed member proportional representation (which might well be the type of system which would be adopted in the UK, if a change to the House of Commons electoral system was forced on the major parties), the major change is that Labour or National need to look for allies more often, A government excluding both those parties is very unlikely.

My answer to this thread is that, unless there is a massive change in the voting habits of the people of England of a sort which has only happened once in more than a century, Labour will remain the only possible alternative to the Conservatives in being the core of an anti-Conservative UK government.

The realignment in Scotland was however the sort of event which, if something comparable happened in England, could rearrange the whole UK political system. Scotland and Wales do not have enough seats to squeeze Labour out of its position as the key anti-Conservative party.

However the more Labour cannot rely upon winning seats in some parts of the UK, the more likely it is that it will need support from other parties to construct an anti-Conservative majority.

Ed Milliband's key mistake, in the recent general election, was not taking on the Tory attempts to de-legitimise the idea of a Labour minority government backed by the SNP. Labour will have problems forming a government until it finds a way to work with the SNP, without frightening the few percent of the English electorate who listened to the Tory fear campaign.
21  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Canada vs. USA Multiparty Systems on: June 04, 2015, 10:23:59 am
The traditional explanation for the US two party system, is that because of the importance of winning the Presidency  there is strong pressure for politicians to group into two parties so they have a maximum chance of benefiting from Presidential power and patronage.

There may be some basis for the argument, but a strong Presidency is not incompatible with a multi party system. The French manage with a centre-right bloc of parties and a centre-left bloc. However the far right is also quite electorally successful and they usually operate independently of the bloc system.

Brazil seems to have a multi party system where there are shifting alliances from election to election and from state to state in the same election.

The United States two party system depends upon historical factors. It is not the only possible configuration of political forces. For example, if the Republicans had rejected the southern strategy in the 1960s and after, George Wallace and similar politicians might have created an enduring southern regional party which could reliably control a number of states. They might often have held the balance of power in Congress and the Electoral College, so that they could negotiate deals with the other parties. This might have been a better way to maximise the political influence of southern whites compared to becoming almost entirely associated with one of the national parties.
22  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 28, 2015, 12:27:35 pm
But as a more serious point, I will reiterate that the main electoral impact of larger seats with tighter quotas would be to a) greatly increase the impact of national swing while also b) reducing the power of incumbency.

So in effect each seat will have around 75,000 electors compared to 70,000 at present.

What's the main reason for reducing the number of MP's from 650 to 600?

Extracts from the Conservative Party manifesto 2010.

A new agenda for a new politics
The Conservative Party has led the way in sorting out the mess of MPs’ expenses. In government
we will go further, by cutting the size of Parliament, cutting the scope of Whitehall, and cutting
the cost of politics. We will make politics more local, more transparent and more accountable.
We intend to build a new political system that serves people rather than politicians. Together,
we can change our politics for the better.

But that is just the start. We will also cut
Ministers’ pay and reduce the number of
MPs in Parliament.

Labour have meddled shamelessly with
the electoral system to try to gain political
advantage. A Conservative government will
ensure every vote will have equal value by
introducing ‘fair vote’ reforms to equalise the
size of constituency electorates, and conduct a
boundary review to implement these changes
within five years. We will swiftly implement
individual voter registration, giving everyone
the right to cast their vote in person and making
it easier for UK citizens living overseas to vote.

23  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 27, 2015, 04:46:00 pm
Just read this on Electoral Calculus:

New Boundary Estimates: Conservative Majority of 50

There has been recent interest in the likely effect of new boundaries which may be brought in under this parliament. Electoral Calculus prepared a full set of notional implied results under the 600-seat "Sixth Periodic review" of boundaries which was conducted around 2013.

Although these boundaries were not used in 2015, they can still give a good approximation of the likely effect of the boundary changes. If we use the actual election result (adjusted slightly to compensate for model deficiencies) and feed it into the user-defined predictor, then we can see the effect of the boundaries.

Using these figures and the old boundaries gives CON 331, LAB 232, LIB 9, UKIP 1, Green 1, SNP 55, and Plaid 3, which is almost exactly correct. Then when we switch to the proposed 2013 boundaries we get

325   202   5   49   3   16

This gives the Conservatives a majority of 50 seats, well ahead of their current majority of 12. This is equivalent of nearly another twenty seats for the Conservatives.

Without any change to legislation, the Sixth Review should restart this year for completion in 2018. It looks unlikely that the Conservative government would want to slow this process down.

How likely is this new 600 seat house of commons coming to fruition in time for the next general election?

Unless Parliament amends the rules that the boundary commissions work to, the next Parliament will have 600 MPs elected on changed boundaries.

If there had been a hung Parliament then Parliament would almost certainly have amended the law, probably to retain 650 seats and give a larger degree of discretion than the plus or minus five percent permitted variance in the average size of electorate now permitted. However a Conservative majority has no particular reason to legislate further and has not proposed to do so in today's Queens speech.

That means that a new boundary review will start in Spring 2016 and that it is due to be reported in 2018. Parliament could, in theory, refuse to accept the implementation of the review. This is what happened in 1969, when the Labour government put a set of boundary changes before Parliament and whipped their MPs to reject them (delaying implementation until 1974 after a Conservative majority House revisited the issue after the 1970 general election). As present law requires a new review in each five year period, an adverse vote would kill the next set of proposals but it seems unlikely that the Tories will not get their way.

The Boundary Commission for England has indicated its current plans.

A new law in 2011 set the timing of reviews of all constituencies to take place at fixed five year intervals, whilst also removing the ability of the Commission to undertake interim reviews. Although the first review under these new arrangements began in early 2011, Parliament postponed that review in 2013 for five years.

The Commission currently plans to formally begin working on the next review in the spring of 2016, with the intention of submitting its final recommendations to government by the early autumn of 2018, as required by the legislation.

The only bit of electoral legislation mentioned in the Queen's speech has studiously ignored a select committee report about changing the boundary review legislation.

Votes for Life Bill
The purpose of the Bill is to:
• Scrap the current 15 year time limit on the voting rights of British citizens living
overseas for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections, including
provisions relating to the registration of overseas electors.
24  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party leadership election 2015 on: May 15, 2015, 05:30:41 am
If the Labour Party elects a guy called Tristram as leader they should disband immediately.

e: Suggesting we refer to withdrawals as "a reverse Farage".

It is even worse, as the son of a life peer  he has the courtesy title of The Honourable Tristram Hunt. It sounds like one of Bertie Wooster's chums from the Drones Club.

No doubt all this is superficial and Mr Hunt is just as qualified as anyone else who stumbled in to a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
25  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Liberal Democrat leadership election, 2015 on: May 13, 2015, 03:36:06 pm
Maybe they should drop the 'Liberal' and become 'The Democrats'. Would allow them to reinvent themselves in more ways.
So they'd be "Literal Democrats"?

When the Liberal Party and the SDP merged they were officially the Social and Liberal Democrats (the acronym for Liberal and Social Democrats being considered unwise). They originally tried using the Democrats as a short name. It was tried out in a by-election but the electorate did not understand who they were. The short name Liberal Democrats was then adopted and eventually became the official name of the party.

For better or for ill liberal has been a word used to describe the party and its predecessors for almost two hundred years. To abandon the word probably would kill the party.
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