Come on Justine!

untitled (250)Last night on Question Time, Justine Greening Conservative MP for Putney raised an important issue that deserves wider discussion, the problem of safe parliamentary seats that always return the same political party from one General Election to another over decades or even centuries. To be fair it is a matter that many of us have debated for decades, however the significance of current a Government Minister speaking out about the problem should not be underestimated. In April 2010 prior to the General Election, the Electoral Reform Society calculated that of 650 parliamentary constituencies, 382 of these were safe. Since then the loss of a number of Lib Dem seats (29 were considered safe, they now have 8 MPs) and Labour seats in Scotland has diminished the number. However even in 2010 it was the Conservative Party which held the largest number of safe seats (172 compared to 165 Labour). Living here in Sussex, we have 16 Parliamentary Constituencies across the area, of these 9 are some of the safest in the country. The Conservatives have held Arundel and South Downs since 1868, and Bognor and Shoreham since 1841. Of the 7 seats that have changed over the last few decades, we have 3 in Brighton & Hove, Lewes, Eastbourne, Crawley and Hastings. The comment from Justine Greening however went further than the issue of which Party forms the Government, and delved into the issue of how candidates are selected. She was comparing the British system with the USA and using it to explain how the failings of the US system had led to the rise of Donald Trump. Whilst we don’t have any senior MPs with the same views as Trump, we have had plenty of MPs that have remained in office despite their misuse of expenses and other abuses. The truth is that for those of us who do not support what is broadly speaking a 2.5 party system, the electoral advantage available to the 4 largest parties continues to act as a barrier to parties such as UKIP, the Greens and the small number of brave Independent candidates that stand in each election. The Electoral Reform Society needs to seize on Justine’s comment and use it to raise this vital issue up the flag pole of public debate, and we need to thank Justine for opening up this subject to a wider audience.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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