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Who claims what and where?[edit]

"It is claimed that the current constituency boundaries of the United Kingdom Parliament favour the Labour Party, which was able to win a majority in 2005 with a lower share of the vote than the Conservative Party had when they fell short in 2010."

Who made this claim and where? Not to mention that consulting "the other Wiki", shows that difference is minuscule (35.2% to Labour in 2005 vs. 36.1% for the Tories in 2010) and it needs to be factored in that the UK is a "2½ party system" (the Liberal Democrats managed 22.0% in 2005 and 23.0% in 2010). If anything, it's the first past the post system itself which is affecting the results, and mainly by hurting the Lib.Dem.s, whose electorate tends to be less concentrated in specific districts (OK, at the moment the Lib.Dem.s are probably pretty unpopular anyway, but you get my drift).

ScepticWombat (talk) 14:32, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree, that section should go unless it can be backed up with meaningful cites. Doxys Midnight Runner (talk) 14:49, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
OK, here's the cite for gerrymandering in favour of Labour and here's a cite for gerrymandering in favour of the Tories. So "It is claimed..." is, strictly speaking, true. Doxys Midnight Runner (talk) 14:55, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Hey, Doxys Midnight Runner, thanks for the links! I think that the first one hits the nail on the head as to why it's hard to talk about gerrymandering in the UK, as well as why the angry guy at the (Tory-supporting) Daily Telegraph is wrong about fewer Labour votes to win an election being a sign of gerrymandering:

Why? It’s not all about size. Labour’s real advantage, the academics said, stems largely from a better distributed vote. Mr Baston explained: “Turnout in safe Labour seats is low, turnout in safe Tory seats is high… so the Tories pile up 28,000 votes to win Sevenoaks while Labour wins Manchester Central more economically with 21,000 votes – despite Manchester Central being a much larger constituency than Sevenoaks.”

We’d stop short of calling the move to cut the number of seats “gerrymandering” from the Tories, not least because the Boundary Commission is independent.

It's not that surprising that safe Labour seats have lower turnout than Conservative ones for the same reasons that turnout among Democratic core constituents than among those of the Republicans: Labour tends to have a larger proportion of constituents among the lower classes (as they would be called in the UK), relative to the Conservatives. As the core Labour constituents are less likely to vote, a constituency mainly composed of them will likely be a safe Labour seat, but will have a lower turnout than an affluent safe Conservative seat.
The problem for the Lib.Dem.s (and the reason they desperately wanted a proportional representation, PR, system) is that if you have their level of support (ca. 20-25%) and it's not concentrated in a few districts, you're never going to get anyone elected under FPTP, as long as any of the two big parties can garner as little as 30-35% of the vote in every district. That's why neither the Tories nor Labour wants such a system. The latter held out vague promises under Blair, while Cameron was forced to propose a reform because the Lib.Dem.s are his coalition partners, but not only did he manage to water it down to an AV (alternative vote) system, but his Tories joined Labour in a vigorous campaign to get it rejected at the referendum and succeeded.
The anger at the Telegraph seems mainly to stem from the Tories not "winning outright" (the article is from immediately after the last general election), but had to make do with a "hung parliament" and thus a coalition government. That this outcome, which is par for the course in most other European countries, is seen as a problem probably says more about Westminster politics and political culture than about anything else, including gerrymandering. Note that the "Telegraph guy's" main gripe is that the data used by the Boundary Commission is out of date, not that it deliberately gerrymanders districts to favour Labour. Seeing as this is his actual argument, his hysterical and hyperbolic rhetoric ("This is an affront to democracy. If it were happening in Zimbabwe there would be much beard-wagging and tongue-clucking;") seems, well, hysterical and hyperbolic. Also, it's obvious that the kind of "level playing field" he wants is not one that would risk costing his own Tories, as well as Labour, seats, hence his derogatory dismissal of PR as "that favourite Liberal Democrat canard". ScepticWombat (talk) 07:48, 5 November 2014 (UTC)


This article has the uspolitics template assigned which I guess(?) is what brings up the right hand US Politics sidebar? Gerrymandering is by no means a US politics only topic. I would like to propose a change of template to politics. That change would encourage more content. --TheroadtoWiganPier (talk) 05:32, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Attempts to reverse the trend[edit]

Also, lame as it may seem, I have seen a few really good graphics out there illustrating examples of how it works (with simple blocks of voters on a simple grid). I'll try to remember to Proxima one home next time I see it. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:35, 12 February 2016 (UTC)


Could gerrymandering produce Old Sarum type constituencies? Anna Livia (talk) 18:21, 13 November 2019 (UTC)

It’s unlikely that gerrymandering would produce a borough as rotten as Old Sarum, as such flagrant abuse of redistricting would probably be too blatant to be left in place. By contrast, rotten boroughs only came about through centuries of passivity and neglect in terms of redistricting. Thus, gerrymandering tends to work more on the margin through lumping (heaping up opposition voters in very few “ultra safe seats”) or splitting (spreading opposition voters across several districts so that they become a minority in all of them) and significantly over representing certain areas (usually rural areas with relatively small populations). ScepticWombat (talk) 21:28, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
Also, under any legalistic reading of the constitution, article 1 section 2, the answer is explicitly no. You cannot have an empty district unless it represents an entire state.
Though I guess this graph would also be impossible with a legalistic reading of the same text. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 22:02, 13 November 2019 (UTC)