‘More than half of MPs don’t represent region of birth’

10:37 am - July 17th 2013

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New research by the independent research organisation Democratic Audit shows that more than half of MPs don’t represent their region of birth.

Democratic Audit has published new analysis of the geographical backgrounds of Members of Parliament.

It sets out regions MPs were born in and where they attended secondary school.

Key findings of the research are:

· Only 49% of MPs represent a constituency in the same region in which they were born. 51% of MPs represent a constituency in the same region in which they finished secondary school.

· MPs’ movements are defined partly by their party membership. Both Labour and the Conservatives tend to import MPs to represent their stronghold areas. For instance, 40% of Labour-held seats are in the north of England, but only 31% of its MPs were born in the north.

· Scotland appears to the most ‘successful’ region with regards to its parliamentary representation. Scotland is the biggest net exporter of MPs to the rest of the UK: while there are 59 constituencies in Scotland, 85 MPs were born and/or schooled north of the border.

The second part of this analysis, to be published later this month, will examine where MPs attended university and where they worked before being elected.

Democratic Audit is based in the Public Policy Group at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Dr Jonathan Hopkin are the directors of Democratic Audit.

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Reader comments

I loathe the party crawlers who tour the country fighting unwinnable seats until the leaders decides they deserve a safe seat or are simply parachuted into one if they have enough clout. Can you imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg having any form of legitimate claim to represent the people of Fife? Why are the people of Birmingham lumbered with tosspot extraordinaire Liam Byrne? It appears Euan Blair, son of sticky fingered, messianic warmonger Tony, is trying to get a seat in Coventry.

A simple, popular solution: Require all candidates for any political office (including councils) to live or work in the constituency they wish to represent for at least five years before standing

In what way is this important? Well to the Scots if they vote for independence.

3. Paul peter Smith

I dont mind so much where they come from but it would be nice if they spent more than a token amount of time dealing with constituency issues. I work very close to my MP’s constituency office and have seen them twice in two years.

Send them back where they come from.

I wonder where the Labour candidate came from who was parachuted into our area at the last election. She latched onto what she thought was a popular local issue. It was only popular with a small very vocal minority.

People saw through her and voted for someone who lived locally. A Tory as it happens. He actually knew what local people really wanted.

Not saying this is meaningless but an MP may not have stronger ties to where they were born or finished school than they do to their constituency (although many undoubtedly will). Just to make a point, I lived for less than two weeks in the area in which I was born and went to five different secondary and middle schools all over the country, only spending a year at my final one before being moved on. I don’t think I have particularly strong ties to any of these places, certainly not enough to accurately represent them in parliament.

Then again, that’s RAF BRATS for you.

7. Planeshift

“A simple, popular solution: Require all candidates for any political office (including councils) to live or work in the constituency they wish to represent for at least five years before standing”

There is a slight flaw with this idea.

There are many council wards where there is literally nobody living there who is a member of a political party 😉

Honestly, though this is an interesting stat the responses make no sense. Isn’t the real issue the problem of parties overruling local parties to get certain people into parliament? It’s not where people come from, more that the party nationally does not allow the local party enough power when choosing its PPC. Dennis Skinner, a great MP and parliamentarian, would not be selected today. It’s one of the reasons we have the increase in the lamentable homogeneity amongst our Labour candidates.

Schmidt/1: Perhaps “the constituency or an adjacent constituency”? Otherwise you could get odd results when boundaries are revised.

Moose/6: Agreed. I’m not sure that what they’re specifically measuring is a problem. I’ve lived in my current UK region for approximately 15 years. It is neither the region I went to secondary school in nor the different region I was born in.

For that matter, what’s it like for non-political people? Lots of people move to find work, or to be with a partner – based on a highly unrepresentative sample of “people I know”, 50% of people no longer living in their childhood region doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

I think to an extent parachute candidates are an inevitable consequence of the electoral system, though. You can probably crudely assume that “people who would be good at being an MP for a party” are roughly distributed proportionally to “people who support that party”. So lacking Proportional Representation, a Party wanting its best people to be elected as MPs has to move some people from seats it can’t win to seats it can. (Not that I’m suggesting any of the current political parties are using this system to get their best people elected)

10. Charlieman

Liberal Democrats go to opposite extremes such that a hereditary lord, a former hereditary peer, an MP, the MPs’s constituency and a large town there have one name: Thurso.

The proposition in the OP is that your heart may only be for your home town or region. It disregards that young adults leave their home town to get an education or a job start. By the age of 30 or 40 years, many potential MPs or councillors or civil activists will have established a new home and new relationships outside home region. The elected Mayor of Bristol arrived in the city as a student but stayed long enough to put him where he is today.

Parachuted MPs are nothing new. Churchill and Gladstone were given winnable seats to ensure their presence in the Commons.

I am sympathetic to the idea of raising minimum age for MPs to 30 or 35 years. It would provide time for political professionals to grow up or to mark their cards so badly that they could not be considered. I’m amenable to less prescriptive suggestions.

The problem isn’t with an MPs background, it’s with the selection process.

For example, if non-local candidates were discouraged or barred, Boris Johnson would get nowhere as he was born in New York.

If the parties allow a fair selection process where local candidates can put themselves forward yet the members choose a non-local candidate, I don’t see a problem. However, if the shortlist is stuffed full of party hacks, it’s easy to see why some people resent MPs moving to represent an area away from their birthplace.

The situation at the recent Rotherham by-election was an example of this farce – where half the audience left the selection hustings as Labour’s London bosses decreed that a local councillor from Rotherham wasn’t going to make it onto the selection panel.

This seems to be more a problem for Labour than the other parties – but birthplace/identity might matter less to the other parties as they haven’t got the same history rooted in the class system.

12. Shatterface

For example, if non-local candidates were discouraged or barred, Boris Johnson would get nowhere as he was born in New York.

The logical extension of the OP’s argument is that people born overseas should have no role in British politics.

People move around all the time.

The real issue is having people being selected for all parties when they have never done a real job. Union rep, researcher, adviser and the like all in the polictial bubble. We need a good mix of people to make sane and balanced laws, and don’t see office as their career rather a calling to service.

Hmm. I left the region of my birth as a child. Where I live now is my home.

Mike @ 11

Do you refer to a councillor for Boston Castle Ward ?.

Maybe you can tell me where the former MP for Rotherham who took the Chiltern Hundreds came from ?.

Labour have a problem in the rotten borough of South Yorkshire. Unite are amateurs by comparison.

Hopefully one of Camerons hacks will read this thread so call me Dave can help clean Labour up for the benefit of Labours long suffering core vote.

17. margin4error

Who on Earth stays in their region of birth in the UK these days? I certainlly haven’t. My parents didn’t. Most of my friends didn’t. What a ludicrous thing to give a monkeys about.

@ 17 margin4error

You are right, who gives a monkeys ?.

Answer MPs. They do constituency ‘work’. There is an army of paid councillors to do this constituency ‘work’. MPs claim to ‘work’ hard aided by BBC hacks who ‘work’ hard.

My view is MPs should ‘work’ hard at vetting legislation and controlling the executive. In this real ‘work’ they are next to useless. To put it another way there is a competence and productivity crisis in Westminster.

The pay for this ‘work’ is not bad. Sixty odd grand plus double that in expenses seems like a nice little earner for this ‘work’

Who cares,Tony Benn and Mchael foot came from rich areas,even if in Foots case it was Wales, or Wilson didnt present a Yorkshire seat, Bernie grant wasn’t born in the U.K, or Peter Hain, I could hardly have seen John Major winning a seat in Brixton for the Tories .

20. margin4error


Can’t argue with that. The issue of a failing parliament is not one of regional affiliation.

18 that would be assuming tht anyone who lives in a constituency has lived there, all their lives,

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