Thursday, 17 November 2011

Conservative criticism of Medway Boundary reforms.

I was recently reading Cllr Tristan Osborne's blog post on Boundary reform and frankly I was vexed he beat me to the punch!

Indeed, I also find the Conservative line put forward by Rehman Chishti to be confusing and contradictory to local Party politics.
Locally Medway Conservatives (and Labour) are pushing for the Medway Towns to become the glorious City of Medway, they plug this as the next logical step and the best thing to happen to the towns in decades.

At the same time, at the Boundary Commission's hearings they are arguing that changing the titles of the constituencies to drop the Rochester & Strood, Chatham and Aylesford and Gillingham & Rainham to things like "Medway East."

This will mean the end to the historical and proud names and the heritage of these Towns - They cry.

But if by some act of evil Medway City actually comes into being then surely the title "Medway East" or "Aylesford and Medway South" would be more fitting?
Also, as has been said on occasions, the area has been known by the shorthand of Medway for God knows how long anyway, does it matter?

Now I agree with my Lib Dem colleagues that breaking up current constituencies and communities with seemingly arbitrary lines is a bad thing however I am also swayed by Cllr Osborne's argument on constituencies. He's right, what have the people of Aylesford and Chatham got in common? (Apart from Tracey Crouch) or even the people in Helen Grant's constituency? I grew up in Marden and my concerns in a rural village were completely different to the people of Maidstone. A good constituent MP, such as Miss Crouch, can balance such demands and be flexible and make themselves seen and available to all of their constituents and represent them as best they can. This is the process of modern politics I'm afraid.

The people of Luton and Wayfield will have similar concerns to those in Gillingham South so will not have to worry, in fact I'm sure the people of Wigmore and Hempstead will have similar concerns to those in Horsted and Bluebell Hill have, especially if the City is proclaimed. After all we do all use the same services; Medway Maritime hospital, ASDA, Tesco, Southeastern Railways, we're all under Medway Council... Will it make that much of a difference to their daily lives?

I will say, however, it is better than being merged with Lenham, which had been an original proposal before Medway Lib Dems tried to re juggle the constituencies for a counter suggestion back in the summer.

Indeed Every party is ultimately losing out in some places and winning in others. The Commission is carrying out a pledge from both the Lib Dems and Conservative Parties to make politics fairer and more even - after all some MPs are representing less people than others but getting an equal say in parliament. Is this fair?
This rebalance will save on 50 MPs at £60k a year each... A substantial cut in governmental expenditure. The Commission is a neutral body whose findings are arbitrary and they have done some Sterling work, juggling council wards to try and make its as even as possible.

I suppose the question would be; What are they afraid of?

Is it the loss of Conservative voters and being replaced with Labour voters?

Is it a genuine concern of the voters in those council wards? After all do they feel that Tracey Crouch is not as good an MP as Rehman Chishti? - Something I would severely contest as erroneous and I think the people of Wigmore have got a good deal here!

In the end I find myself agreeing with Cllr Osborne but with a twist. If this is a genuine concern of the voters and residents it should be raised by a Councillor (Not Mr Chishti , who is a councillor but is also an MP also has a vested interest in maintaining his majority for 2015).
However, I think that in reality there aren't that many people who are really that concerned by boundary reform.

Then again a Wise man said to me last week;

In a boundary review, every word that's spoken (by every party, including yours) has big political undertones...

and quite right too, don't take my word alone for it.

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