Island MP Andrew Turner is gearing up to lead an Island-wide campaign to fight proposals that will divide the Isle of Wight into different Parliamentary constituencies..
Under plans announced last week by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP, part or parts of the Island will be merged with one or more mainland constituencies.
“The Isle of Wight has a strong common identity, and has had for generations. We have always opposed attempts to divide us. We are one Island. We strongly believe that ours is a unique situation in England and as such warrants separate consideration. I believe that the current proposals are bad for democracy – there has been no shared Island-mainland constituency since 1832. Since the news came out last week I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have told me they are against these plans – so I am convinced we can put together a vigorous campaign against them.” said Mr Turner.
The ‘One Wight’ campaign already has enthusiastic support from various local media, including the Isle of Wight County Press and Isle of Wight Radio together with a number of other Island organisations. Mr Turner said that he hoped the campaign would be as lively as the successful ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign he spearheaded in 2004, and stressed the cross-party nature of the campaign. Prominent local Labour and Liberal Democrat figures are also firmly in support.
Morris Barton, former Liberal Democrat leader of the council, said:
“After the campaign to get a unitary authority for the Isle of Wight it seems counter-productive to now think about splitting it into two constituencies, which would nullify the Island’s independence. I am supporting this campaign.”
“The Isle of Wight is a unique place and needs to be speaking with one voice,”
said Mark Chiverton, Labour Party Parliamentary candidate at the last election.
Gatcombe resident Bob Seely has volunteered to run the campaign. If you would like to help with coordinating the campaign in your area, please contact Bob on 01983 244244 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also contact him if you run a shop or business and would like to have the petition available for the public or your staff to sign.
The campaign would have accepted having two MPs for the Island, but only if the entire constituencies were on the Island with both MPs devoting themselves to the Island – however the number of MPs is reducing and two MPs are simply not on the table. So the campaign is to keep the Island as a single constituency, recognising its unique identity.
Mr Clegg plans for all constituencies to have an equal numbers of around 76,000 voters. The Island currently has 110,000 electors. There are no detailed proposals put forward at the moment – but if the rules already announced are applied to the Island around 34,000 voters would be voting for one or more MPs who would have the majority of their electors living on the mainland.
Mr Clegg has already agreed in principle that islands are unique. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that both Orkney and Shetlands and the Western Isles in Scotland can remain as separate constituencies, despite not having the right quota of electors to fit the new system. Yet he has decided that the same rule does not apply to the Isle of Wight in England.
“ONE WIGHT – Don’t Divide the Island” petitions will be appearing in shops from next weekend and a petition form will be printed in local newspapers next week.