Thursday, 1 July 2010

Meg Hillier forced to defend her seat as Clegg uses 10-year-old figures

Was Nick Clegg using 10-year-old data from Wikipedia when he stated the size of Hackney South's electorate in Parliament?

A terse comment from Meg Hillier arrived via email alert yesterday. At first glance it looked like the straightforward correction of an error made by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Meg said: "On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that you are very keen that Members of the House should always be factually accurate. On Tuesday 22 June, in answer to questions, the Deputy Prime Minister cited my constituency and said that it had an electorate of 52,000. In fact, on 6 May the electorate was 72,920. I would hope that you, Mr Speaker, would remind Government members of the importance of being factually accurate, when they have all the resources of Government to enable them to quote accurate figures, not figures plucked from the tops of their heads."

She was responding to what Nick Clegg had said: "Clearly, in line with existing legislation dating back to 1986, it is right for us to continue to provide for more equal constituencies in this country. [Interruption.] Here in London, for instance, Hackney South and Shoreditch has an electorate of just 57,204, while a few miles down the road, on the other side of London, Croydon North has 22,615 more voters. Its electorate is more than a third larger. That cannot be right."

But Clegg wasn't plucking figures from the top of his head. Most likely he was using this Wikipedia page which also uses the 57,204 figure. The only other place where this figure appears dates it back to the year 2000: from Boundary Commission Report: "3.12 The constituency with the lowest 2000 electorate in London will be Hackney South and Shoreditch BC with 57,204 electors: this will be the second lowest electorate in England after that of Wirral West BC....."

May be Nick Clegg has it in for Meg after she told Labour councils to have a zero tolerance policy toward Lib Dem co-operation.

(It's late and I couldn't find where Meg's 72920 figure came from - maybe here somewhere)


  1. Having such a small constituency might explain why Brian Sedgemore was such an excellent and attentive local MP. I didn't agree with him much politically but he (and his wife) were hard working and supportive towards constituents in need.

    The constituency is obviously too large for Meg Hillier (or she has too many other commitments) which is why, sadly, she makes such a poor job of being a local MP.

  2. Hackney Council's Electoral Services department will probably be happy to tell you the exact size of the electorate at the election - they gave me the figure a couple of weeks ago, for use on the election campaign expenses forms I had to fill in as a candidate. Unfortunately I don't recall what it was :) but 72k sounds about right. I remember it being larger than I expected, only having the Wikipedia page to go on myself up to that point.