Cut to MP’s an “Outrageous attack on Highland democracy” says SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford MP.
Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford has hit out at Westminster plans to reduce the number of Scottish MP’s from 59 to 53, following the UK Boundary Review’s recent submission to the UK Government.
The current proposals would see Highlands and Islands seats cut from 4 representatives down to 3. These 3 seats (Highland North, Argyll Bute and South Highland, and Highland Central) would become the largest constituencies in the Country, covering an area of 33,282 km2 – 45% of the area covered by the boundary review of Scotland.
Despite cross party attempts last year to halt the reductions in number of elected representatives, the Westminster Government broke with its usual Parliamentary conventions in order to halt any signs of rebellion.
Following widespread criticism of the plans The Boundary Commission for Scotland noted that there was mass complaints about the size of these large constituencies, but that they were unable to make a change because “the requirements in legislation with regard to the number of electors in each constituency and the low population density of the areas in question meant creating large constituencies could not be avoided”.
Ian Blackford, who submitted objections to the proposals during consultations and raised concerns in Parliament at the time, has said:
“These plans really are showing utter contempt for the practicalities of living in the Highlands and Islands. It is more proof, as if it was needed, that a London centric thought process simply doesn’t cater for the way our lives are in Scotland, and particularly the Highlands”.
He continued, “My constituency, Ross, Skye and Lochaber, is already 12,000 square kilometres. It is 15% of the land mass of Scotland. Contrast that with Northern Ireland, which has a land mass of just over 14,000 square kilometres, you can see that the current situation in itself is bad enough”
“But to then make those areas even larger, where you’re getting to a situation where 3 Highlands and Islands MP’s are covering an area larger than Belgium, then you really are getting into a situation that is beyond all reproach”
“The Tories are railroading this through Parliament for their own political gains. It’s an outrageous attack on Scottish and Highland democracy and really does add insult to the injury of the recent power grab that we’re seeing through the Tory led Brexit disaster”