Moray Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has unanimously voted to oppose the Boundary Commission for Scotland’s proposals to scrap the Moray Westminster Parliamentary Constituency and displace Moray voters across three separate constituencies. At our recent Annual General Meeting, members described the proposals as “cultural robbery” and “barking mad”. Moray CLP has agreed to make extensive representations to the Boundary Commission for Scotland on the following bases.
Moray CLP has identified a number of grounds for opposing these proposals:
- Moray is one of the few Scottish constituencies the boundaries of which are entirely coterminous with the local authority area.
- These boundaries have remained largely unchanged for 40 years.
- The existing Moray constituency comfortably falls within the demographic and topographic parameters required by the Commission.
Moray CLP believes that there is a particularly strong case for retaining the existing Moray constituency as Moray is, so often, the “forgotten north”. Moray is wedged in-between two much larger local authority areas: Highland and Aberdeenshire, both of which have multiple parliamentary constituencies entirely within their boundaries; while the Island constituencies are protected by law. It appears, once again, that Moray has been forgotten about and, therefore, sacrificed for the convenience of Highland and Aberdeenshire.
Moray CLP believes that the Commission has not taken adequate regard of the rules provided for by law. Rule 5 within the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 sets out five considerations that the Boundary Commission may take into consideration. It is clear that the Boundary Commission has disregarded at least three of these considerations this review:
- boundaries of council areas and electoral wards (existing or prospective) at the start of a review;
- existing UK Parliament constituency boundaries;
- any local ties which would be broken by changes in constituencies.
Moray CLP has identified a number of alternative measures which the Commission might consider:
- Both the Highland North and Highland Central constituencies contain some of the largest electorates in Scotland. This is perverse. The Argyll constituency has one of the lower electorates, and is almost 4,000sq.km short of the maximum permitted. Furthermore, Fort William share far more in common with many Argyll communities than it does with Inverness. There is a strong case for further extending the Argyll boundary northwards.
- This, in turn, would permit the transfer of the Strathspey and Ardersier areas, and possibly Nairn, to the Highland Central constituency.
- Both Aberdeen constituencies are near the maximum permissible electorate. The Dyce and Bridge of Don areas of Aberdeen City are highly suburban. Dyce is particularly well connected with Inverurie by both road and rail. Inclusion of either or both of these areas in the Gordon constituency could make it possible to move the Speyside area to a Moray seat, or restore the Turiff are to the Banff and Buchan constituency, which, in turn, could lead to the inclusion of either Buckie or Keith in a Moray constituency.
Moray CLP also wishes to make some final comments on the naming of constituencies:
- We particularly object to the name ‘Highland East and Elgin’ given that the overwhelming majority of its electorate is drawn from Moray. We firmly believe that the name of any constituency corresponding to this proposal should be led by a Moray element.
- That the only constituency name to actually mention Moray is ‘Gordon and Moray South’ is somewhat absurd, but particularly so given that most of the ‘Moray’ element is actually historic Banffshire.
- Inverness is the only city in Scotland the name of which is not included in that of a parliamentary constituency. We believe the name of any constituency including a city should reflect the name of the city.