Boundaries. Now there’s dull for you

Just as so much Blair era culture-page handwringing about why my kids came back from university, in hindsight, was a way of not talking about wages, student debt, and housing, people tend to lose sight of the central role of politics when they make arguments about “filter bubbles”. The original post over at Flipchart Fairytales is actually pretty good, but I had to take issue with the argument about Americans increasingly living in counties that swing to one party or the other by large majorities.

The problem is that it’s very easy to change the boundaries of an American city or county or congressional district and they do it all the time. There are even people who make a good living acting as consultants to local politicians on how best to re-district their political opponents out of their constituency or their political supporters back in.

Movements of population are slow, but boundaries can be changed at the stroke of a pen. Thereafter, of course, they are real facts about power and they have an impact on the real world. That is of course why American politicians do it, and why a system that sounds like Shirley Porter stamping on a human face forever is allowed to persist. Both parties benefit, although the Republicans enjoy the usual hostage-taker’s bonus.

It doesn’t do to miss out power if you’re thinking politics.

So, we’re about to have our own redistricting festival. Here’s Lib Dem Voice whistling past the graveyard and moaning about this Democratic Audit piece. The proposals will be published on Tuesday and there will then be some 12 weeks of “public consultation”, but not public inquiries. (LDV points out that public inquiries are scary and have politicians and lawyers, but then, democracy is scary and detailed and has lawyers and politicians, and they have to listen to the results of a public inquiry.)

There is a timetable for the hearings here.

I’ve said before that really, everything in this exercise should be opposed as being basically dishonest. We shouldn’t be having a boundary review to make Tories feel nice about the AV referendum. Any ideas?




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