MP Boundary changes ‘Not good day for democracy’

The proposed Mid Fife constituency
The proposed Mid Fife constituency

Politicians in Fife have questioned the motive behind proposed boundary changes which could see some drastic alterations to the Kingdom’s Westminster constituencies.

The number of Scottish MPs would be cut from 59 to 53 as part of a move to reduce the total number of Westminster seats from 650 to 600 ahead of the 2020 general election.

Drastic changes have been proposed, with Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes merged to form Mid Fife, and the rest of the existing Kirkcaldy seat broken up and merged to form Fife South – a seat stretching from Kinghorn to Rosyth, and as far north as Kelty and Ballingry.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird was among those who questioned the motive behind a possible reduction in the number of MPs.

“You have to ask why we’re even doing this,” she said.

“The Tories say that it’s to reduce the cost of politics, but any savings from cutting 50 MPs is offset by the 260 new Lords which have been created since the Tories took power.

“We now have about 800 Lords in the unelected house, and we’d have only 600 in the elected house.

“That’s not a good day for democracy.

“The Paymaster General and the Cabinet Office Secretary have already said that the cost of the payroll would remain unchanged.

“Another dimension to this that hasn’t been considered is that there is currently a workload that sits with Members of the European Parliament, but post-Brexit, that’s going to have to be done by MPs.

“So you’d have more work and less people to do it.

“Plus it’s worth noting that the electoral register that was used to form the basis of this boundary review is out of date.

“The chosen figure is around 71,000 people per constituency, but there is missing data – there are now 2m more people voting that weren’t before.

“It’s all based on data from 2015, but there was a huge spike in registered voters ahead of the Brexit vote.

“The boundary change plans don’t take account of that.

“It’s also not about numbers, you have to look at this from a community perspective.”

The Boundary Commission for Scotland plans would also see Methil and Buckhaven joined with Leven as part of the North East Fife Constituency, instead of the Glenrothes area it presently comes under.

Stephen Gethins, MP for North East Fife, said that it was important to have enough MPs to keep the government in check.

He said: “Obviously at a time of enormous political upheaval, with the government’s plans to take us out of the European Union and the impact that will on us all, our economy, our environment and opportunities for young people, it is incredibly important that Scotland maintains its representation so that we can continue to hold this government to account at this crucial time.

“It is a great privilege to represent everybody in North East Fife, including Leven, and I would like to continue to represent the people of Leven for as long as they want me to, and obviously it would be nice to have the whole of Leven, instead of just half of it at the moment.

“It would make a lot of sense for the whole of Leven to be in the same constituency.”