You need to check whether you're registered to vote. Yes, you do. We're not due an election until May 2016, but there's a much closer deadline coming up — 1 December — that could affect how many MPs London has. It could particularly affect the city's poorer areas.
The way we register to vote has changed from 'household' registration to individual registration. Names on the old electoral registers were carried over for the 2015 general election, but anyone councils haven't been able to verify by 1 December will be struck off the list. Around 415,000 Londoners were, as of June, due to be erased from the database.
A boundary review, looking at how many constituencies the UK has and where those constituency borders are drawn, is due to take place next April. A review started a few years ago in an attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 but was halted; it had proposed London should lose five MPs. If the number of people dropping off the register remains at current levels, Hope Not Hate estimates London could actually lose up to 10.
London is complicated when it comes to representation, as we found when we looked at the issue before the general election. We have 73 MPs for a relatively small geographical area, but each constituency has more people in it than anywhere else in the country. Why? Because constituencies are decided on the number of people registered to vote, not the number of people who live there. So if there's a large foreign population, or a lot of people not on the electoral register, they don't count.
As Hope Not Hate explains:
Under the Boundary Commission’s rules seats will inevitably be reallocated away from areas with high numbers of currently unverified voters to areas with complete or near complete registers. This invariably means away from urban areas with high-density housing and multiple occupancy to suburban and rural areas and that means away from young people, renters, certain ethnic minorities and students and towards older and retired people and home-owners.
Sounds a lot like London, doesn't it? Hackney is the worst affected, due to lose up to 23% of its registered voters. Kensington and Chelsea could lose 17%, Redbridge more than 11%, Brent and Lambeth 10%. In fact, most London boroughs are set to wipe more voters off their records than the national average of 4%.
And all this is on top of 8m people nationwide who were never registered to vote at all. So even if you don't intend to use your vote, by not being on the register you're contributing to depriving your area of parliamentary representation. MPs have a bad reputation, but they're your local link to Westminster. And even if the actual MP is rubbish, he or she will have staff who can help you. They'll be less help if they've suddenly got an extra 20,000 residents on their patch.
Seriously: register to vote. And encourage your friends, family and neighbours to do the same.