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Leading article: Carving up the political landscape to advantage.

THE deliberations of the Boundary Commission are not generally the spiciest dishes on the political menu so far as most people are concerned, but they can have devastating consequences for individual politicians.

One does not have to be too much of a cynic to come to the conclusion that the expulsion of George Galloway from the Labour Party is at least partly related to changes recommended by the Boundary Commission in Scotland that will decrease the number of seats in Glasgow. For Labour's hierarchy, the prospect of the troublesome Mr Galloway being selected in place of a Blair loyalist would be taking the concept of a broad church too far.

No such problem arises for the party in Wales, where the one severe troublemaker is conveniently being replaced by an acceptable trade union official who emerged victorious from an all-woman shortlist.

Nevertheless, those who retain an interest in the minutiae of psephology will look closely at the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Wales. If anyone should be slightly worried by the proposals, it is perhaps Betty Williams, the Labour MP for Conwy. Together with two neighbouring Plaid Cymru MPs, she faces the prospect of seeing her constituency dismembered. There will still be a Conwy constituency, but it will be markedly different from that won by Ms Williams in 1997 and 2001. She will be losing Bangor, a town that splits its votes between Labour and Plaid, instead gaining 7,000 votes from a rural hinterland where Plaid currently has the ascendancy. Perhaps inevitably, Plaid is talking up its chances of winning the new Conwy.

Elsewhere in Wales there is not much to excite the imagination. The Conservatives will be disappointed that more radical changes are not being proposed for the Vale of Glamorgan constituency. Over the past couple of years they have been relishing the prospect of a new seat being carved out to exclude Barry - convinced that a safe seat would be theirs for the taking. Sadly, from their point of view, the Boundary Commissioners are not obliging and they will have to campaign in a Vale seat that continues to include the stubbornly Labour-voting Barry.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 5, 2004
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