In the Boundary Commission for Scotland’s 2018 review initial proposals suggest that the seat which includes St Andrews, North East Fife, shall be largely unchanged and shall even be one of the few seats to retain its name.
The number of MPs at Westminster are set to be reduced from 650 to 600 with Scotland being reduced from 59 to 53. This is supposed to make up for an existing democratic deficit whereby constituency size can vary by tens of thousands of voters and thus allowing voters in some constituencies disproportionately more influence in electing an MP than voters in other constituencies. In Scotland the new ‘Constituencies must have between 71,031 and 78,507 electors, unless they are larger than 12,000 km2 when they can have fewer electors.’
The current seat of North East Fife is drawn along the Fife Council ward lines which includes: St Andrews, Cupar, Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Tay Bridgehead, East Neuk and Landward and Leven, Kennoway and Largo. The proposed seat includes all of these areas but now also includes Buckhaven and Methil from the Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages ward while excluding East Wemyss, West Wemyss and Coaltown of Wemyss.
This new area which North East Fife would include comes from the existing Glenrothes constituency which is represented by former SNP Fife Council leader Peter Grant. He used to represent the Glenrothes West and Kinglassie ward and stood down after being elected as an MP at the last election. The Glenrothes constituency is set to become Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy if proposals are approved and will include the Wemyss Villages.
The reduction in the number of MPs opens the prospect for incumbent MPs facing reselection battles with each other along the new boundaries. North East Fife incumbent Stephen Gethins and Peter Grant are the two MPs whose constituencies currently include part of the proposed North East Fife seat and could make a claim to represent the seat but Gethins’ seat covers the vast majority of the proposed change and so he would be unlikely to face a serious selection challenge unlike many of his SNP colleagues.
The Boundary Commission for Scotland has launched a consultation period on its proposals welcoming all comments until 11 January 2017.