Parliamentary boundary changes: an EFP analysis

Michael Meacher, whose Oldham West seat disappears in the proposed boundary changes

Michael Meacher, whose Oldham West seat disappears in the proposed boundary changes

In mid-September 2011 the Boundary Commission published their latest recommendations for changes in parliamentary constituency boundaries.  This might seem like an item of obscure academic interest, but in fact it has serious implications for anyone who is seriously involved in political efforts towards an English renaissance.

These changes were always expected to be more radical than usual, because the Lib-Con coalition government has adopted a shallow populist policy of cutting the number of MPs, to save a few million pounds, and make constituencies more equal in size.

When one looks at the small print, there are some interesting implications for nationalist parties.  Some are mere curiosities, such as the removal of the heavily Asian Fishwick ward from Preston into Ribble Valley, which is otherwise a predominantly white, middle class constituency, and whose gay Tory MP Nigel Evans might have some problems with the Asian drug dealers and Islamic fundamentalists among his new constituents.

Among Lancashire’s once and future nationalist strongholds, there are some very big changes on the cards.  Burnley will be split up and combined with some neighbouring areas.  Most of what had been the strongest BNP areas in Burnley, including the areas represented by Cllr Sharon Wilkinson, will go into the new Burnley South & Accrington constituency, which will also include Great Harwood and other parts of the old Hyndburn seat.

This will undoubtedly be a major nationalist target, whereas the new Burnley North and Nelson constituency will include the most Asian areas of Burnley as well as the heavily Asian town of Nelson and the mostly white Colne, taken from the abolished Pendle constituency.  There is likely to be pressure for an Asian Labour candidate in Burnley North and Nelson.

By contrast boundary changes in Oldham may present a serious setback to the parliamentary ambitions of Asian councillors.  Former Labour minister Michael Meacher, now in his 70s, had been expected to retire before the next election, with several local Asians eyeing their chances to replace him.  However Meacher’s Oldham West & Royton will be abolished in the proposed boundary changes.  The new Oldham & Saddleworth will presumably stay with Debbie Abrahams, who won the Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election earlier this year.  Royton North goes into a new Rochdale South, as do the mostly white Shaw and Crompton wards, while Oldham’s Asian ghettos will be divided between Ashton-under-Lyne and Oldham & Saddleworth.

Nationalists and ambitious Asians will all be frustrated by these moves, not least because they break up two traditional town communities: Royton and Chadderton.

Most nationalist interest might focus on the three new constituencies north of Oldham: Rochdale South, Rochdale North & Rawtenstall, and Darwen & Haslingden.  The latter two reflect the break-up of the old Rossendale & Darwen.  The very white Darwen will be combined with the partly Asian Haslingden, and the collapse of the For Darwen Party will create an opportunity for nationalists in this new seat.  However there will be some local concern that the community of Lower Darwen is being taken away from the rest of the town and put in with Blackburn.

In what was once the highest profile BNP target area, there is a further round of proposed boundary changes which will create a Barking & Dagenham constituency and a Dagenham North.  Three former BNP wards – Alibon, Parsloes and Valence – will be moved into the new Dagenham North, which arguably become a more enticing target for a post-Griffin nationalist party.

Consultation on these important boundary proposals remains open until 5th December: click here for details.  The England First Party will be carrying out a detailed study of the proposals, and encourages all readers to make their submissions.  We suspect there is a good chance that the proposals could be defeated, and nationalists should be in the forefront of campaigns to preserve the identity of traditional English communities.

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