DUP’s advantage through Boundary Commision is largely restorative…

Interesting response from Sinn Fein over the latest boundary changes. Francie Molloy in the Independent writes

Sinn Féin warned at the time that the DUP would attempt to insert this issue into their negotiations with the Tories so it came as little surprise to us that the new proposals were virtually indistinguishable from the DUP’s.

The Boundary Commission deny there has been a deliberate gerrymander at the behest of the DUP and stress their independence from political interference.

Nevertheless, they do admit to radically altering their plan, as well as applying the controversial rule seven. This rule is only available in the north of Ireland and gives the Commission scope to go beyond the usual electorate quotas in any given constituency. Despite ruling out the need to evoke it in their original proposals, the Boundary Commission changed this approach after the DUP argued for it to be implemented.

There seems to have been some politics around this. The Conservative Government have been trying to get these reforms through (which include taking 50 seats out of the House) since 2011, and thus far have been unable to.

And there is a qualitative change in these moves which makes it far more likely that the DUP will be willing to facilitate changes that the Lib Dems would not.

However, the truth is that that the first iteration offered by the Boundary Commission appeared to begin from the idea that Belfast should be reduced to three seats, with every other change being contingent on that.

In changing the frame to the overall pattern so that Belfast retains (by numerous internal boundary changes) its four seats and the DUP’s dominance there. A reduction to three would likely have given them a net loss of three.

Not that SF took its own warnings that seriously…

 

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty