Last week, the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland released its revised recommendations for the province’s constituencies. These recommendations were significantly better for the DUP than the previous draft proposals.

That makes it more likely that the DUP will now vote with the Conservatives in the Commons to approve the proposed changes to constituencies across the UK , which reduce the number of MPs nationally from 650 to 600 – largely at the expense of Labour.

What has changed?

As we know, Theresa May is propped up in power in the House of Commons through an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP are in that pivotal position in part because they won their highest ever number of MPs in the 2017 general election: ten of the eighteen seats for Northern Ireland.

The map below shows that current state of play: those ten DUP seats in orange (mainly in the north and east of the province), seven of the other MPs are from Sinn Fein (largely in the south and west, although they never take their seats in Parliament) and the remaining MP is Sylvia Hermon, an independent unionist in North Down.

As part of the reduction of the number of constituencies nationally, Northern Ireland will see its tally fall from 18 seats to 17.

When the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland drew up its first set of draft recommendations in September 2016, this lost seat was in Belfast, where the DUP now hold three of the four seats. This reduction was bad news for the DUP: not only was the lost seat clearly one of theirs (effectively Belfast South) but the knock-on impact on Belfast North was enough to switch that seat to Sinn Fein.

Elsewhere, changes in rural Northern Ireland would have moved another seat (the sucessor to Upper Bann) into the Sinn Fein column, based on the 2017 general election result.

These projections are taken from the work done by Electoral Calculus on the draft recommendations, which can be found here.

Clearly, the DUP would not be wanting boundaries that would have cost them three of the ten seats won in the last election – on the same results – to arrive anytime soon. Worse, their loses would have helped Sinn Fein gain two more MPs. It is clear that the DUP would have voted in Parliament to prevent these changes being put in place.

There were a number of other criticisms: the current Belfast split into four seats feels a more natural ordering than this three seat model, as I’ll explain later. The Glengormley area of Newtownabbey (just northeast of Belfast) would have been split into four constituencies (Belfast North West and the East, South and West Antrim constituencies). Voters in Dungannon have historically always been part of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, rather than being linked to the Craigavon conurbation (in the unwieldy-named Upper Bann and Blackwater constituency). What on earth are Dalriada and Glenshane?

It appears from the revised recommendation report of the Boundary Commission that everyone had some criticism, although it also appears as if the unionist parties put much more work into their responses.

The outcome? The Commission radically redrew their recommendations, making use of a get-out clause given to them by Parliament.

Nationally, the rules set by Parliament state that every constituency in the UK (unless it is an island or set of islands without a bridge linking to the mainland) must fall within a 5% tolerance level of the national average electorate size: meaning that every constituency must have between 71,031 and 78,507 electors. The draft proposals above strictly adhered to that rule.

The new recommendations do not: they make use of a clause for Northern Ireland that allows the minimum to be 69,403 if the Commission felt that this was needed to meet discretionary factors relating to community ties, size and shape of seats, and local government links.

Five of the proposals on the new set of recommendations make use of that flexibility, four of which where the DUP start ahead: Belfast East, Belfast South, Mid Antrim and Upper Bann. The fifth, West Tyrone, would be a safe Sinn Fein constituency.

The map below shows the revised recommendations, together with the projected winner, using the ward-by-ward estimates provided by Electoral Calculus.

I’ll go into this seat by seat below, but the quick takeaway from this is that the changes would ensure that the DUP would have retained ten MPs using these boundaries and the 2017 results, as would Sinn Fein. The loser would be independent Sylvia Hermon in North Down. What is more, the proposals make it slightly easier for the DUP to hold some of its more marginal seats.

Four current constituency names are lost and three new ones created, but it is arguably one of the constituencies whose name lives on that has been abolished: South Antrim.

The new constituencies


The new proposals keep four constituencies in Belfast, which each currently have a character of their own. There is the solidly working class but culturally divided North constituency, the overwhelmingly Protestant constituency divided into working and middle-class areas (Belfast East), there is the mainly middle class constituency (Belfast South) and finally the solidly working class, overwhelmingly Catholic Belfast West.

Back when the boundaries first used in 1997 were being drawn up, there had been a previous proposal to reduce the number of Belfast constituencies from four to three to reflect the city’s falling population, which were rejected then for similar reasons. The fix then was to create a new Northern Ireland constituency to ensure the rest of the province was not under-represented and then to stretch the four constituencies to take in areas outside of the city boundaries – often to reflect where the city’s population had in fact moved out to.

The new recommendations take this approach: each adding new areas that lie beyond the city’s (recently expanded) boundaries. In each case below, the figures in brackets represent the proportion of the new seat coming in from a current constituency.

  1. Belfast East – Safe DUP
    (Belfast East 88%, North Down 10%, Belfast South 2%)

    Whilst the first draft proposals moved the Dundonald area east of the city boundaries to North Down, the new proposals reverse that move by moving the affluent suburbs around Holywood from North Down into Belfast East.Whilst Belfast East was an Alliance Party seat between 2010 and 2015, that increasingly looks like a historic aberration resulting from its previous MP Peter Robinson’s difficulties at the time: the DUP’s Gavin Robinson (no relation) had a 20% majority over the Alliance in 2017.

    The changes work slightly against the DUP: the pattern in the constituency is that its working class areas in the inner city (including the Titanic Quarter and George Best airport) and areas beyond the city limits (around Dundonald) vote DUP, whilst the middle class areas in the suburbs within the city boundaries (including the Northern Irish Assembly buildings at Stormont) are where the Alliance does better. Holywood would fit the latter grouping better, reducing Robinson’s notional majority slightly to 18% on our calculations.

  2. Belfast North – DUP marginal
    (Belfast North 83%, South Antrim 12%, East Antrim 6%)

    The DUP’s parliamentary leader, Nigel Dodds, is probably a worried man regarding his political future. Last year, his majority in this religiously-split constituency was only 2,000, or 4.5%, over Sinn Fein. What is worse, it would only take the SDLP’s voters to switch over to Sinn Fein for that majority to be wiped out.The first draft proposals were more than enough to finish the job: the renamed Belfast North West would have lost some areas outside the city boundaries in Newtownabbey whilst gaining parts of solidly Republican West Belfast around the Lower Falls area (pretty much the most strongly pro-Sinn Fein community in the entire country). Electoral Calculus gave Sinn Fein a 6% lead in that version of the seat.

    The revised recommendations must therefore have elicited a sigh of relief from Dodds: no Lower Falls, and the addition of more areas outside the city boundaries from Newtownabbey. This includes taking in the whole of the Glengormley area, which was split four ways in the first draft recommendations. Glengormley isn’t overwhelmingly Protestant (about 60%) but that is more so than the current constituency. Our projection would increase the DUP majority to a still marginal 7%.

  3. Belfast South – DUP marginal
    (Belfast South 91%, Strangford 4%, Lagan Valley 3%, Belfast East 2%)

    This is the Belfast constituency that  has grown most in area, but in electorate terms it has changed least. This is the more affluent Belfast constituency, covering the areas around Queen’s University as well as the city centre. The new boundaries stretch outside of the city to take in the County Down communities of Carryduff, Drumbo and Moneyreagh.SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell held the seat between 2005 and 2017, but lost it to the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly last year by almost 2,000 votes (4.6%), partly through Sinn Fein gaining ground but more from Ulster Unionist Party supporters switching parties. Our calculations suggest that Little-Pengelly’s majority would have been just shy of 10% on the new boundaries.

  4. Belfast West – safe Sinn Fein
    (Belfast West 84%, Lagan Valley 8%, Belfast North 8%)

    This is the most Republican constituency in Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein’s majority is over 50% here (53,4% in fact). Sinn Fein’s majority has been over 50% in every election since 2005.The boundary changes will chip away at that, but not by enough to make any real difference. The new seat stretches further to the south, taking in the strongly protestant Lambeg ward from Lagan Valley as well as the Catholic Derryaghy ward, and further north, to take in parts of the strongly Unionist Shankill area (the remainder of which is already in Belfast West). We calculate that this would reduce Paul Maskey’s majority to a still unassailable 41%.

Counties Antrim, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh

Whilst lumping together four of the six counties seems a little strange, it makes sense given the proposals. We’ll start with the one that changes least…

5. Fermanagh and South Tyrone – Sinn Fein marginal
(Fermanagh & South Tyrone 98%, Mid Ulster 2%)

Whilst the draft recommendations suggested moving southeast Tyrone (around Dungannon) out of the constituency and southwest Tyrone (around Castlederg and Fintona) in, the new recommendations pretty much leave this constituency unchanged from its current form, just tidying up some boundaries where new wards cross the current ones.

This is a majority Catholic constituency, but it has changed hands between Republicans and Ulster Unionists seven times in my lifetime, along the way including hunger-striker Bobby Sands’ 1981 by-election victory as an Anti H-Block candidate that paved the way for Sinn Fein’s entry into electoral politics.

Recent results have been very tight: Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew had a majority of only 4 in 2010, before Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott won it by 530 votes in 2015. Gildernew won it back last year by 875 votes (1.7%). Our projections increase this slightly to a princely 2.4% on the new boundaries.

6. West Tyrone – safe Sinn Fein
(West Tyrone 90%, East Londonderry 10%)

West Tyrone, based around the towns of Omagh and Strabane, was created in 1997 as the eighteenth Northern Irish constituency. The Ulster Unionists won it narrowly in that election but it has been in Sinn Fein’s hands since 2001, never with a majority of less than 10%. Barry McEldruff became its new MP last year with a majority of 24%.

McEldruff’s recent resignation, following a YouTube video that many thought mocked the 1976 Kingsmill Massacre, means that West Tyrone is likely to be the first by-election of the current Parliament.

The proposed boundary changes render the constituency name less accurate than it is currently: these stretch the constituency across the Sperrin mountains into southwestern County Londonderry, including the villages of Claudy and Feeny. It loses the small Tyrone village of Bready to the revised Foyle constituency.

This all has little change on the political outcome: our projections show a Sinn Fein majority of 22% in the new seat but that slight dip may be due to voters in the predominantly Catholic new areas not bothering to vote in the previously strongly unionist East Londonderry constituency.

7. Mid Ulster – safe Sinn Fein
(Mid Ulster 91%, East Londonderry 9%)

Mid Ulster, taking in the east of County Tyrone around Cookstown and Coalisland and  the southeast of County Londonderry around Magherafelt, is strongly Republican. This was Martin McGuinness’s seat between 1997 and 2013 and his successor Francie Molloy had a 28% majority in last year’s election.

The proposals stretch the constituency north to take in three settlements currently in the East Londonderry constituency: Dungiven, Garvagh and Kilrea. Garvagh is a protestant village, whilst Kilrea is predominantly Catholic and the small town of Dungiven overwhelmingly so. Our projections suggest that all this would reduce Molloy’s majority slightly to 24%, but like West Tyrone that may just be because this majority Catholic area’s voice had not really been heard in the strongly unionist East Londonderry constituency.

8. Foyle – Sinn Fein marginal
(Foyle 99%, West Tyrone 1%)

The proposed changes to Foyle – the constituency for the city of Derry/Londonderry – are minimal: the small village of Bready has been added from West Tyrone to reflect new ward boundaries introduced when Derry and Strabane councils were merged in 2015.

Since its creation in 1983, Foyle was the redoubt of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), most notably in the form if John Hume who served as its MP between 1983 and 2005. However his successor, Mark Durkan, lost the constituency to Sinn Fein in last year’s general election by 169 votes (0.4%).

The minimal boundary change would notionally nudge this Sinn Fein majority to 0.5%. This is likely to still be a tight race next time between the two nationalist parties.

9. Causeway – safe DUP
(East Londonderry 72%, North Antrim 27%, East Antrim 1%)

Whilst the Giant’s Causeway, which lends its name to this newly titled constituency, is in County Antrim this constituency is really the successor to the current East Londonderry constituency.

Under the new proposals East Londonderry, based around the university town of Coleraine, the smaller town of Limavady (famous for giving the world the song Danny Boy) and the coastal resorts of Portrush and Portstewart , loses its southern territory to the northward expansion of the Mid Ulster and West Tyrone constituencies, and makes up for this loss by adding in the coastal areas from the current North Antrim seat around Ballymoney and Ballycastle, together with the area around the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills, Rathlin Island and a small section of East Antrim.

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell had a 22% majority last year over Sinn Fein. The new boundaries notionally improve that to 24%.

10. Mid Antrim – safe DUP
(North Antrim 79%, South Antrim 20%, East Antrim 1%)

The loss of coast to the Causeway constituency means that the North Antrim constituency has had to change its name and take in parts of the South Antrim constituency that lie to the north of the town of Antrim and Lough Neagh. Whilst this means that areas very close to Antrim town are now in a different constituency to it, there is a strong logic to the new seat: focused on the large town of Ballymena.

North Antrim was Ian Paisley’s constituency for 40 years, before his son (imaginatively named Ian Paisley junior) took the reins in 2010. Paisley junior had a majority of 43% over Sinn Fein in last year’s general election. We calculate that the new boundaries would shave this majority down to 42%, but that is unlikely to cause the DUP any loss of sleep.

11. East Antrim – safe DUP
(East Antrim 78%, South Antrim 22%)

This strongly unionist coastal constituency is based around the port town of Larne, Carrickfergus, with its Norman castle and the eastern part of Newtownabbey, in particular the university area of Jordanstown. In the north, it also takes in much of the Glens of Antrim – the only nationalist area in the constituency.

Under the proposals, small sections are lost to the Causeway and Mid Antrim constituencies and sections of South Antrim, around Ballyclare (where Jonathan Swift preached), are brought in. Overall, this has the effect of reducing the DUP’s Sammy Wilson’s majority over the Ulster Unionist Party slightly from 41% to 36%.

12. South Antrim – safe DUP
(Lagan Valley 61%, South Antrim 39%)

Despite the name, this constituency is more the successor of the current Lagan Valley constituency, a safe DUP seat held by Jeffrey Donaldson, than the current South Antrim constituency, a DUP-UUP marginal won by the DUP’s Paul Girvan last year.

Lagan Valley is based on Northern Ireland’s third largest city, Lisburn, which straddles both the River Lagan and the county Antrim-Down border, and the proposed constituency takes in a sliver of County Down along the banks of the Lagan, including the site of the old Maze prison. Further north, the seat stretches between the western edge of Belfast and Lough Neagh, taking in the pretty town of Antrim and the area around Belfast International Airport from South Antrim.

The new seat has some similarity to the pre-1983 version of the South Antrim constituency, which also included Lisburn and Antrim.

Donaldson – a former Ulster Unionist Party MP who switched to the DUP in 2004 – has a majority of over 19,000 (43%) over his former party. Girvan’s majority over the UUP is a more modest 3,208 (7.4%). At 31%, the notional new majority for the DUP over the UUP is closer to Donaldson’s than Girvan’s.

County Down

Whilst small parts of County Down will fall outside, the new proposals neatly fit most of the county into three constituencies, not unnaturally named North, South and Mid Down.

13. North Down – DUP marginal
(North Down 79%, Strangford 21%)

North Down has been a bit of an electoral oddity over the years, a constituency sometimes described as the most British part of Northern Ireland. Its main town, the coastal resort of Bangor, certainly feels like an English seaside town.

In 1977, Ulster Unionist James Kilfedder left his party in protest to its acquiescence to reduced autonomy for  the province. Kilfedder successfully tood as an Independent Unionist in 1979, before being elected as its Ulster Popular Unionist Party MP (which in true Life of Brian style, he was the only one) in 1983, 1987 and 1992.

Kilfedder died in 1995 and another individualist unionist, Robert McCartney (a hard-line unionist with a leftwing domestic agenda), this time labelled as the UK Unionist Party, won the subsequent by-election and in 1997. The constituency however looked as if it was returning to the political fold in 2001, when Sylvia Hermon, wife of the former chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, won the seat off McCartney for the Ulster Unionist Party. In the DUP wave of 2005, she was the only UUP MP left standing.

That changed however when the UUP decided to join the Conservative Party for the 2010 general election. Hermon, who had worked well with Labour at Westminster, promptly left the UUP and stood as an independent, holding her seat and winning again in 2015 and 2017.

Last year’s election however was close: Hermon had a majority of only 1,208 votes (3%) over the DUP. That majority would probably have been wiped out if the currently proposed boundaries were in use: the seat loses Holywood to Belfast East and then gains the Ards peninsula (the arm of land separating Strangford Lough from the Irish Sea) from the current Strangford constituency. The latter is strong DUP territory and we calculate that the new constituency would have had a 7% DUP majority over Hermon in last year’s election.

14. Mid Down – safe DUP
(Strangford 59%, Lagan Valley 23%, Upper Bann 16%, South Down 2%)

Our third new name (and the third Northern Irish seat prefaced by “Mid”) is the successor to the slightly oddly named Strangford consitutency. The County Down village of Strangford is both small and just outside of the constituency that bears its name – instead the seat is named for the Lough rather than the settlement.

The current Strangford constituency, based around the town of Newtownards at the head of Strangford Lough together with a number of Belfast commuter villages and areas around the Lough, is a safe DUP seat: Jim Shannon has a majority of over 18,000 (47%) over his nearest rival, the Alliance Party.

Strangford loses territory mainly to North Down and also to Belfast South. As a consequence, it no longer surrounds Strangford Lough and instead now forms a crescent looping south of Belfast and Lisburn to take in parts of the west of the county around Banbridge, Dromore and Hillsborough (famous for its castle, the Queen’s official residence in the province). In between are the small towns of Ballynahinch and Comber, together with large villages such as Saintfield.

These changes would reduce the DUP’s majority, but not by much: we calculate that Shannon’s lead would have been 42%, in this case over the UUP rather than the Alliance.

The one interesting issue to watch might be whether it is Shannon that would run. Given that the DUP have no net loss in seats but have South Antrim effectively abolished, it may be that Paul Girvan gets to keep his nominal seat for South Antrim and that it is Donaldson that goes for Mid Down and Shannon the now DUP-leaning North Down if an arrangment is made to keep all the current DUP MPs seated.

15. South Down – Sinn Fein marginal
(South Down 94%, Strangford 2%, Upper Bann 2%, Newry & Armagh 1%)

South Down is a strongly nationalist constituency that rings the Mourne Mountains, taking in the cathedral town of Downpatrick, the coastal resort of Newcastle, fishing port of Kilkeel and the picturesque port town of Warrenpoint. Further inland are small villages, such as Rathfriland and Castlewellan. The SDLP are strongest around Downpatrick and Warrenpoint, Sinn Fein around Newcastle, Kilkeel and the area outside Newry. The DUP have support in parts of the north of the seat.

The proposed changes are minor: adding in the villages of Loughbrickland (Upper Bann) and Killyleagh (Strangford) and a few other small areas to align with new ward boundaries around Newry.

South Down was once Enoch Powell’s seat (between October 1974 and 1987) when he defected from the Conservatives to the UUP. Eddie McGrady won the seat for the SDLP in 1987, bequeathing it to his party colleague Margaret Ritchie in 2010. Last year, Sinn Fein’s Chris Hazzard rather surprisingly won it off her with a 9.3% swing. Our projection shows his 4.8% majority over the SDLP would dip slightly to 4.5% on the new boundaries.

County Armagh and Newry

Last, but certainly in my mind far from least, we come to County Armagh, the land that reared my grandfather and generations of Souths before him. The city of Newry is technically in both Counties Armagh and Down (its town hall straddles the River Clanrye which forms the county border) but it makes more sense to consider it here.

16. Newry and Armagh – safe Sinn Fein
(Newry & Armagh 97%, South Down 2%, Fermanagh & S Tyrone 1%)

Newry is a predominantly Catholic city, and South Armagh was infamously the IRA’s bandit country during the Troubles. The cathedral city of Armagh is slightly more mixed, although Catholics still out-number Protestants there two-to-one. The countryside east of Armagh though is more unionist in its support.

The constituency was created in 1983, and narrowly won by the UUP. In 1986, all the province’s unionist MPs resigned in protest against the Anglo-Irish agreement and Newry & Armagh was the constituency that changed hands in the subsequent by-election: the SDLP’s Seamus Mallon then held the constituency until he retired in 2005. Sinn Fein then won the seat, and Mickey Brady had a 23% majority over the DUP in last year’s election (the SDLP having fallen back into third place in 2015).

The proposed boundary changes are minor: the constituency actually had to lose a few electors due to its growth in population and this is mainly through the transfer of the large village of Tandragee in the northeast of the constituency to Upper Bann. There are also some other minor adjustments to align with ward boundaries.

As Tandragee is a 90% Protestant village, this makes the constituency slightly safer for Sinn Fein. Our estimate increases Brady’s majority to 26%.

17. Upper Bann – safe-ish DUP
(Upper Bann 94%, Newry & Armagh 5%, Fermanagh & S Tyrone 1%)

The current Upper Bann constituency is based around the Craigavon conurbation – a partially successful new town designated to link the north Armagh towns of Portadown and Lurgan – and Banbridge in County Down. The Boundary Commission proposals remove Banbridge and add Tandragee, so that the vast majority of electors now live in County Armagh. Small parts of County Down and Antrim remain in the seat.

Portadown is a largely Protestant town, although not entirely as the annual controversy around the Drumcree march through the town attests. Lurgan is predominantly Catholic. The boundary commission’s original proposal to link the Craigavon area with Dungannon to the west would have been enough to eliminate the 16% majority that the DUP’s David Simpson gained over Sinn Fein in last year’s election. Electoral Calculus estimated that Sinn Fein’s lead would have been 10% in that “Upper Bann and Blackwater” constituency.

The revised proposals will therefore be a relief to Simpson. By low-balling the electorate size needed (69,795 electors, as opposed to the usual minimum of 71,031) the Commission have managed to drop the Dungannon idea and instead bring in the more unionist-leaning parts of Newry and Armagh.

The loss of Banbridge still brings Simpson’s notional majority down a little, but to a still reasonably safe 13%. Whilst further demographic changes might shift the balance in the constituency at some time in the future, it is likely to remain in the DUP’s hands for a while yet.


The latest proposals by the Boundary Commission seem to make stronger sense of local communities than their first draft. They certainly seem to better fit the current constituencies. However, the fix to do this, in having electorates in a number that are below the normally permitted minimum, is likely to prompt the losers in the process to call foul. Indeed, Sinn Fein already have.

The definite gainers are the DUP. Their 2017 haul of ten MPs was their best ever result, and permitted them to become power-brokers in the current hung Parliament. Despite the province losing a seat, they would keep that number of MPs under these arrangements. They would also make marginal seats such as Belfast North, Belfast South and South Antrim safer.

All in all, if the DUP were reticent to vote for the new boundary changes in Parliament under the previous proposals, they should be jumping at the prospect now.


The Real Reason Rape Cases Are Collapsing

by Ray_North on January 27, 2018

I think we’re up to ten or more recent trials which have collapsed as a result of a failure by the CPS to disclose evidence that is potentially undermining to their case, with countless others now being re-examined to ensure that the rules are being complied with.

The suggestion is being made that dishonest or incompetent police officers are to blame.

They are not.

I’m not saying that there are no dodgy or rubbish coppers, but the fault lies in the systematic underfunding of the criminal justice system over the last twenty years.

Ok, I hear you groan, another fat cat barrister moaning about his salary – so let me explain.

The Criminal Procedure Rules mean that once the police have investigated a case and the CPS have reviewed the evidence and decided to charge, all evidence that they rely on together with any evidence that is potentially undermining or helpful to the defence is disclosed.

In most cases that involves witness statements, any physical evidence (knives, guns etc), forensic evidence and telephone evidence. The CPS lawyer and the instructed barrister are under a duty to ensure that everything is complied with fairly as a failure to disclose will lead to a potential abuse of process or a miscarriage of justice.

Most barristers who prosecute will look carefully through the unused material as they prepare the case – we are not paid for doing this, it is one of the things that we are expected to do for free and, for years, we’ve done it, grumbled a bit, but done it.

In the last few years however, in certain cases, and quite often cases involving sexual crime, the police have seized smart phones. They then download the entire contents of the smart phone – this can come to many tens of thousands of pages and much of it is potentially relevant as the contents of someone’s smart phone can offer a clue as to many aspects of their lives such as where they were, what they were feeling, whether they made admissions or disclosure.

And someone has to read these pages – someone has to wade through the thousands of pages of facebook, instagram, text and twitter nonsense to ensure that there isn’t buried somewhere a nugget that is potentially of use.

The police just don’t have the resources, they are struggling to keep up.
The CPS don’t have the resources, they are struggling to maintain a massive increase in their caseloads, post-Saville, of sex investigations.

So, just send it to the barristers, I hear you say, well, the CPS are told by the Ministry of Justice that they can’t send thousands of pages of evidence to barristers, because, as barristers are paid by the page of evidence, it will lead to an increase in legal aid payments.

So, not surprisingly, it doesn’t get read, it gets ignored, or it gets skim-read – which isn’t great if you are facing the possibility of a fifteen years sentence of imprisonment for a crime of rape that you say you didn’t commit.

I’m afraid that the only way to stop the miscarriages is to properly fund the investigation – give the police the resources to carry out the investigations properly, give the CPS the resources and manpower to review the evidence thoroughly, pay barristers for reading evidence or at least don’t skimp on how much evidence they are allowed to see.

Ask most criminal barristers what is more important to them, doing the job properly or more money, and they will always put their professional commitments first.

But, as is the Tory way, this government wants to do everything on the cheap as it struggles to see the true value of the most important things.


#1093: 1988, The Fall, Big New Prinz

January 26, 2018

I was a first year student at the LSE in 1988, fresh with the excitement of the big city. My main reason for wanting to study at the LSE, had nothing whatever to do with that institution (though my Dad liked the fact that Mick Jagger was briefly a student there) or my chosen subject. […]

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#MeToo: What kind of man am I?

January 26, 2018

At work I happen to share a room with three women. They are all younger than me and superb at their jobs. The other day, I was working alone in my room when two of them came through the door and remarked upon the fact that I hadn’t turned the light on. ‘That’s because I […]

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#1092: 1979, OMD, Electricity

January 26, 2018

Yesterday…. my house…. youngest child (to me) – ‘Dad, what does OCD stand for?’ me (dismissively and attempting a lame joke) – ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.’ youngest child – ‘well my brother has got Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark….’ Made me laugh. Also made me revisit their debut single – I hadn’t appreciated what […]

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The Modern Way of Making Public Policy

January 16, 2018

Once upon a time – the making of public policy went a bit like this: Party A would have an internal policy making process, into which expert opinion would be considered and the merits of the policy considered; then, if there was support for it, they would offer that policy to the electorate – at […]

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The Windsor Homeless – what it tells us about the Tories

January 5, 2018

Talk about brazen – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, a Conservative Councillor from Windsor saying that although he had nothing against ‘real vagrants’ he wanted the police to use their powers to take away the possessions of those who he described as ‘professional beggars.’ What a total heartless bastard. In this one incident […]

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A look forward: 2018 London elections (part 3)

January 3, 2018

Today, we conclude our look forward to the May 2018 local elections in London. You can find the first part of the series here (including details of our methodology) and the second here. Our concluding part covers the ten London Boroughs starting with the letters M through to W. Merton – likely Labour hold We […]

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A look forward: 2018 London elections (part 2)

January 2, 2018

Yesterday, I started a three-part series looking forward to this May’s local elections across the 32 London Boroughs. This is part two in that series, covering the boroughs H to L. For part one, including details on the methodology, click here Today’s Evening Standard’s front page headline was Tory Guru: May Could Lose Half of […]

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A look forward: 2018 London elections (part 1)

January 1, 2018

As a New Year begins, I am setting out the scene for this year’s London elections, a critical test for the three main English parties. This is the first of three posts, setting the scene and covering 10 boroughs (B to G, alphabetically). May’s local elections will be a crucial test for the British political […]

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Dear Santa…

December 22, 2017

For Christmas please can I have a good book, perhaps a biography, if it’s a biography then it doesn’t have to be that good. Can I also have some time with family and friends, and perhaps one of those spontaneous afternoons in the pub – that’d be good. And whilst i’m at it, I’d like […]

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Some new confusion from the Ministry of Justice……

December 12, 2017

I’m confused… I just can’t work it out and if any of our dear readers are able to offer me any explanation, it would be gratefully received. The source of my confusion is this – for the last god knows how many years (certainly for the last 19 years, that I can testify to), when […]

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Sweet Jones Alabama?

December 10, 2017

This Tuesday sees the state of Alabama go to the polls to elect a new senator. But can Democrat Doug Jones really have  a chance in this deeply Republican state? The accession of Jeff Sessions – Alabama’s former senator who Donald Trump picked as his Attorney General – created a need for an election that […]

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Brexit and the case for an Election Misinformation Act

November 23, 2017

I was sitting in my car yesterday when I heard the headlines from Philip Hammond’s budget – like everyone else, I heard the depressing figures for growth and wages and living standards, and initially, I just let them pass me by because I wasn’t surprised by them. Then, I considered them further and the implications […]

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Brexit Britain – Where Did It All Go Wrong?

November 17, 2017

How did Brexit happen? This is a question that will be analysed and debated for decades to come. It’s complicated. Many Leave voters right across the country feel disenfranchised but they wrongly believe that the EU is the cause. It is the decades of UK government neoliberal economics that are the true problem – which […]

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Is This The Most Clueless Conservative Party Ever?

November 13, 2017

Despite my praise for Richard Ratcliffe and the very measured way he is dealing with the total mess being made by the Foreign Secretary, we cannot get away from the fact that we are currently being run by a government so poor that it is starting to give the Trump regime over the water a […]

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In Praise of Richard Ratcliffe

November 13, 2017

Richard Ratcliffe would be quite within his rights, some might say, to go around to the Foreign Office, seek out Boris Johnson and give him a ruddy great bunch of fives; Richard Ratcliffe would be within his rights, most would say, to go on the airwaves and call for the resignation of the same Foreign […]

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#1091: 2017, Portugal, The Man – Feel It Still

November 12, 2017

As a rule I hate my kid’s music. They’re little, they’re yet to listen to anything that remotely has an edge to it, indeed most of it appears to consist of shouting the same lyric over again, because it doesn’t scan with the tuneless nonsense that passes for a melody. I suppose it’s not meant […]

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The Fallacy of National Sovereignty

November 10, 2017

Reclaiming our nation – they told us. National Liberation Day – is what Farage described it as. Finally making the UK independent again – is what they said. Throughout the debate on Brexit, we were told that a vote to leave the EU was a vote to reclaim British Sovereignty from the scourge of the […]

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#1090: 1988, Michelle Shocked, Anchorage

August 26, 2017

This year, my almost annual visit to the USA has taken me to “the largest state in the Union” – both the USA’s and my 49th state. There are a number of songs I could have picked to reflect this: perhaps Dwight Yoakam‘s North to Alaska (or the Johnny Horton original). Or, if I was […]

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A Tale For Our Times…..

July 31, 2017

Pick, as they say, the bones out of this…. I was in Court last week – the case involved a horrible road traffic accident, where a young Albanian delivery van driver had attempted to overtake a HGV when it was clearly dangerous to do so and ploughed headlong into the path of an oncoming car […]

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General Election 2017: now that we’ve stopped laughing, what next?

June 12, 2017

Forgive me readers for it has been bloody ages since my last blog. In that time, I have committed many sins, including the sin of confusion, hopeless optimism, blind despair, excessive elation, false elation and wicked gloating. Why? Because I, like every other poor bastard in this country of ours, has been subjected to the […]

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Georgia’s Sixth: Democrats First Test for Sunbelt Strategy

April 2, 2017

On 18 April, the southern US state of Georgia sees a ‘special election’ to find a new congressman. The election could be a key indicator for the way forward for the Democrats. One of the key questions for the Democrats to face in the aftermath of its electoral defeats last November is its election strategy […]

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What Brexit really means…

March 27, 2017

“Brexit means Brexit.” ~ Theresa May To many Brexiters, what Brexit really means is: The British Empire Rule, Britannia! Britannia Rules the Waves! Last night of the proms Sticking it up Johnny Foreigner Union Jack bunting Foreign muck The plucky Brit The Great Escape Dambusters Mother Country British bulldog Imperial chauvinism Born to rule Land […]

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Theresa May is the wrong prime minister at the wrong time

March 20, 2017

“I think the economic arguments are clear, I think being part of a 500-million population trading bloc is significant for us. I think, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe. “If we were not in Europe, I think […]

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The United Kingdom: A Union of Unequals

March 17, 2017

I will always consider myself both British and Scottish. I have spent years wrestling with my own opinion on Scottish independence. I hoped that it would never come to this, but, from 2014 onwards, I made my progression from being a unionist to a supporter of Scottish self determination for the following reasons:- Independence is […]

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Corbyn’s Copeland Catastrophe?

March 1, 2017

There is no doubt that Labour’s performance in the Copeland by-election last week was historically bad: a government last won a by-election seat off an opposition in 1982. But Jeremy Corbyn’s most die-hard supporters have tried to explain this poor result away. Do their arguments hold any weight? You have read the headlines: this is […]

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Should the Lords have stopped Brexit?

February 27, 2017

There is an unfortunate irony that, sadly, one of the most interesting periods in national and international politics has coincided with us here at Allthatsleft going into self-imposed stasis. I write this, because I’ve been considering just how bad things could get – I write this because things that seemed absurd only a year or […]

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Trumpton, USA – A Place Called Hate

January 31, 2017

“I still believe in a place called Hope.” ~ Bill Clinton, 1992. In America 2017, hope has left the building. Hate has walked in, pimped out the White House with gold furnishings and started a real life version of Lord of the Flies. Obama was in the White House for 8 years, and managed to […]

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#1089: 2012, Viv Albertine, Confessions of a Milf

January 31, 2017

Last weekend, the lads of All That’s Left went away for a weekend in the country. As well as drinking what the experts tell us is the safe amount of alcohol for a month over 36 hours, there was a lot of music. One of my picks was this, my favourite find so far of […]

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