As Labour councillors we are most concerned about the reduced electoral influence Canterbury voters will have resulting from the current review of Parliamentary boundaries.
Through sharp political practice by the Conservative Party, power will shift away from the young, the mobile and those living in rented accommodation towards those who are older, settled and home owners. Of course this is designed to benefit the Conservatives.
How is this happening?
The Boundary Commission is required by Parliament to review constituency boundaries to try to ensure that one vote counts the same wherever it is cast. They base constituencies on names on the electoral register. The problem is that this Boundary Review is based on the register of December 2015, when Canterbury recorded the biggest loss of registered voters in the country, over 12,000 disappeared as a result of changes in the methods to register voters. By the EU referendum in June this year an extra 8,000 voters had registered in the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency. Different generations have different attitudes to registering to vote. Older people tend to always be on the register and younger people who are on the move only register when there is a clear point to it, like voting on the EU. These 8,000 voters are being totally ignored by the Boundary Commission.
Canterbury is at the sharp end of a national trend, described in these words by the Electoral Reform Society,
“This will mean areas where people move on a regular basis, for instance those with a high concentration of certain demographics – students, private renters and especially young adults, and therefore have lower rates of registration, will be under represented in parliament.”
The City Council Conservative group has not come to any position or raised any objections about this process which is clearly flawed and diminishes the electoral influence of University cities like ours.
The local Labour Party response to the Boundary Commission will say that if you feed in faulty data to the review process you cannot but come out with faulty conclusions.
The deadline for comments is 5 December – please respond and add your voice to those who do not want our democracy manipulated in this way.
From Alan Baldock
9 Riverdale Road