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‘Moray is an identity’: Labour opposes Boundary Commission reshuffle that would wipe region off map

The current and proposed boundary changes.

The Moray branch of Labour has added its voice to those opposing controversial Boundary Commission plans that could see the region wiped off the Westminster map.

Proposals from the Boundary Commission for Scotland suggest carving up the existing Moray constituency into three different seats.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who is the current Moray MP, has urged the group to go back to the drawing board while the SNP argues the move would weaken Scotland’s voice in the UK parliament due to it having two fewer MPs.

Now Moray Labour has united the three major parties in opposing the plans – with members branding them as “cultural robbery” and “barking mad”.

‘Moray is an identity’

The Boundary Commission has proposed dividing the existing Moray Westminster seat into tree different areas.

Elgin and Forres would join a new Highland East and Elgin seat, Speyside would join a new Gordon and Moray South region and Buckie and Keith would join Banff and Buchan.

Moray Labour argues the region is becoming the “forgotten” part of the north-east by being divided for the “convenience” of the larger Aberdeenshire and Highland regions.

Secretary Stuart MacLennan said: “The problem is that it is a fundamental failure to identify or appreciate the close cultural ties that exist in Moray.

“Moray is an identity. Elgin is geographically the centre but it is also culturally, commercially and politically the centre of Moray – folk from Buckie and Forres will come here for work and shopping.

“Parliamentary rules say seats should have between 69,700 and 77,000 voters, apart from the islands, which are protected. Moray is almost in the middle of that with 71,537 so there’s nothing wrong with the Moray seat.

“It appears as though they’ve identified problems in Highland and Aberdeenshire and decided ‘Let’s just carve up Moray’ to make the numbers work.”

Moray's only Labour councillor John Divers.
Moray’s only Labour councillor, John Divers. Photo: Jason Hedges/DCT Media

John Divers, Moray’s only Labour councillor, said: “It looks like we are being ripped apart to accommodate other areas when our area, more or less, fits the criteria as it is.”

Labour Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said: “The Boundary Commission proposals negatively impact the Highlands and Moray.

“The Scottish Labour Party will be submitting a response in due course and is consulting with members on that currently.”

Boundary Commission running consultation

Moray Labour has put forward alternative proposals to the Boundary Commission as alternatives.

The party has highlighted the existing Highland North and Highland Central constituencies have some of the largest electorates in Scotland while Argyll has one of the lower numbers – suggesting Fort William could instead be aligned with other west coast communities.

Meanwhile, it has suggested reallocating either Dyce or Bridge of Don from Aberdeen to the Gordon constituency.

The Scotland-wide proposals would lead to the number of Scottish MPs reducing by two to 57 from June 2023.

Lord Matthews, deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, said the proposals were a “promising start” to ensuring each mainland constituency had broadly the same number of electors.

He said: “We have set out proposals which do that and are, we believe, a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament.”

The Boundary Commission is currently running a consultation about the proposals. Views can be submitted online here.  

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