Minor change to constituency

THE Borders Westminster seat, currently held by Liberal Democrat Michael Moore remains much the same as it was for the last election, after the Boundary Commission Scotland announced their latest review of political representation across the country.

Apart from minor tweaks to the west of the constituency, the Borders electorate will notice little difference under the new proprosals when they next vote in the UK Parliament elections in 2015. And across the boundary to East Lothian they will see no difference at all.

Last week the Boundary Commission published detailed proposals to reduce the number of Scottish MPs by seven, going down from 59 to 52 - with Glasgow and Edinburgh each losing a seat under the plans which have now gone out to public consultation for twelve weeks.

Overall the number of MPs in the Westminster Parliament will go down from 650 to 600 which should see costs being reduced by £12 million. The shake-up will also mean that each constituency will have between 72,810 and 80,473 voters (with the exception of Scotland’s two island seats which despite having an electorate of around 33,000 will be retained for geographical reasons).

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat had 72,430 voters in 2001, rising to 74,115 in 2010, falling in the middle of the accepted range of voters per constituency as set by the boundary commissioners.

As well as none of the constituencies having any more than 80,4723 voters, neither will any of them be more than 13,000 sq km.

The number of seats rose from 646 to 650 at the 2005 general election after proposals made by the Boundary Commissions for England, Wales and Northern Ireland but at the time the number and size of constituencies in Scotland remained unchanged. Now that change made six years ago is being reversed and the number of MPs cut below the pre-2005 figure.

The make-up of the Borders representation at Westminster has undergone a number of changes over the past 60 years but despite changes in how the boundary lines were drawn the region has remained a Liberal Democrat stronghold as far as the UK Parliament is concerned for over 40 years, although both the SNP and Conservatives have challenged that Liberal Democrat dominance in the Scottish Parliament in recent years.

In 1983 Berwickshire was linked to Roxburgh after being joined with part of East Lothian for 33 years - Archy Kirkwood represented the area and fellow Liberal Democrat David Steel continued to represent the west Borders seat of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale. In 1997 David Steel retired and Michael Moore won the Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale seat and when the constituency boundaries were redrawn in 2005 Mr Kirkwood moved to the House of Lords leaving the way clear for Michael Moore to stand for the combined Borders seat, which he held in both 2005 and 2010.