Will Straw has written a piece for Left Foot Forward today entitled "Electoral reformers should oppose the coalition’s gerrymandering" where he highlights four reasons why electoral reformers should oppose the proposed government bill to change the boundaries and put the AV to a referendum.
1) The Bill prevents equal representationWhile everyone accepts the principled case for equal-sized seats, time must be taken to ensure that the equalisation is of those entitled to vote rather than those already registered to vote.
2) The Bill gives the Liberal Democrats a partisan advantageTwo parliamentary seats – the Western Isles (SNP) and Orkney and Shetland Islands (Lib Dem) – have been exempted from the need to meet new quotas because of their low population density.
3) The Bill does not correct distortions in the electoral system
4) A smaller House of Commons will be be less representativeAs Sunder Katwala has outlined on Next Left, “a smaller Commons will almost certainly delay and slow down progress towards gender equality in the House of Commons.”
“...from Labour’s point of view, that element [cut in number of constituencies] of the legislative package will, in all likelihood pass whatever I’m afraid. It is AV that is up for grabs. Labour has the opportunity to show that it can embrace reform and pluralistic politics. It can show that it is not stuck in the past; a defensive party unable to confront the future. And it is the right thing to do from the perspective of democratic accountability.”