Significant shake up of Scotland's constituencies provokes SNP anger
All but nine of Scotland’s Westminster constituencies could be redrawn, in the first major changes to the electoral map in over 15 years.
Proposals published by the Boundary Commission for Scotland would see the number of MPs reduced from 59 to 57, while England will gain an extra 10 and Wales will lose eight.
The SNP described the plans as an "attempt to weaken Scotland’s voice in the UK Parliament".
The changes are part of a bid to try and bring some sort of uniformity to constituencies, with each of the new seats having between 69,724 and 77,062 voters, except the two ‘protected’ constituencies of Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Orkney and Shetland.
Currently, only 18 constituencies fit this quota, 27 are below, and 12 above.
The two seats to be scrapped would come from Glasgow and the North East.
Under the proposals Douglas Ross’s Moray constituency would be split in three and absorbed into Highland East and Elgin, Banff and Buchan, and Gordon and Moray South.
The loss of a seat in Glasgow could lead to a headache for the SNP, with two of their existing MPs forced to battle it out to be the candidate at the next election.
The proposals are out for consultation for the next eight weeks and will need to be approved by Parliament, with changes in place for 2024.
Lord Matthews, the deputy chair of the commission and the person leading the review, said: “I believe this is a promising start to delivering the requirements of the new rules that mean the number of constituencies in Scotland will reduce from 59 to 57, and that each mainland constituency must have broadly the same number of electors.
“We have set out proposals today which do that and are, we believe, a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament.
“Today is the beginning of a process, and we now want to hear the views of the public. We will reflect on responses to the consultation and make changes where appropriate and where the legislation allows us to do so. We strongly encourage voters to make their views heard.
“We welcome all comments on our proposals on our consultation site at bcs2023review.com.
“We particularly want to hear suggestions on two aspects, suggestions for alternative boundaries that comply with the legislative requirements and constituency names.”
In a briefing on the changes, Professor Ailsa Henderson, who is also a commissioner on the review, said shifts in population sizes in different parts of the country had prompted the changes.
“The result of that is that there is a wide range of electors across the existing Scottish constituencies.
“The constituency with the smallest electorate is Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross which has 46,000 – almost 47,000 electors – but the constituency with the largest electorate is in Linlithgow and East Falkirk with 88,000 electors, which is a range of around 41,000 electors.”
The academic said this meant some people’s votes were “worth more based purely on where they live”.
SNP Westminster deputy leader, Kirsten Oswald said: “Tory plans to further reduce Scotland’s representation at Westminster, while increasing the number of MPs for England, underlines the need for Scotland to become an independent country – in full control of our own democratic decisions and with the full powers needed to build a stronger, fairer and greener future.
“The SNP will strongly oppose any attempt to weaken Scotland’s voice in the UK Parliament but the reality is Scotland will always be outvoted under the broken Westminster system – as we have seen with Tory austerity cuts, Brexit and power grabs imposed against Scotland’s will.
“Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from damaging Westminster decisions and Scotland’s best future lies as an independent country.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “Reforms to parliamentary boundaries will ensure fair and equal representation for the voting public across the United Kingdom.
“Every constituency will be equally represented in the UK Parliament, with Scotland’s most rural constituencies continuing to receive special protection.”