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MPs becoming ‘increasingly local’ – but Wales has smallest share of MPs born in that nation

20 Jun 2022 4 minute read
Politicians line up wearing their rosettes. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

MPs are becoming “increasingly local”, but Wales is represented at Westminster by the smallest share of MPs elected in the nation of their birth, new research has revealed.

Only 75.0% of Welsh MPs were born in Wales, while the equivalent figures for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are 86.9%, 93.2% and 94.4%.

But the lower number of Welsh-born MPs in Wales may be because they represent constituencies elsewhere, as MPs born in Wales are over-represented at Westminster. 6.4% of all MPs elected in 2019 were born in Wales, compared to the nation’s 4.8% of the UK population.

MPs from Scotland, London and the North West were the most over-represented. 12.7% of MPs were born in Scotland while the nation only makes up 8.3% of the population.

The East of England was the least represented among MPs. The region of England has 9.3% of the population but only 4.4% of the MPs have been born there.

The research, first published in the Journal of Legislative Studies, was conducted by Philip Cowley, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, and Robert J. Gandy and Scott Foster, both of Liverpool John Moores University.

“Although Scotland and Northern Ireland are, as pointed out above, notable for the high level of representation of those from within each country, England, if taken as a whole, is not very far behind,” the researchers said.

“Between 86 per cent and 87 per cent of MPs sitting for English seats were born in England.

“The outlier in this regard is Wales, where the figure ranges from 65 per cent to 75 per cent.

“However, if we compute a total for England, based on regional representation – that is, the percentage of those constituencies in England, where the MP sits for a seat in the region of his or her birth – we find much lower figures: 37.0 per cent (2010), 39.0 per cent (2015), 40.3 per cent (2017) and 43.7 per cent (2019). These are lower than for any of the three other constituent nations in the UK.”

Local

The likelihood of a Welsh MP being born in Wales went up over the last three General Election cycles, from 65.0% in 2010, to 70.0% in 2015, and 72.5% in 2017.

And the research found that MPs were, overall, increasingly likely to represent communities in the nations and regions where they were born, new research has found.

“Every British general election brings with it complaints about the parachuting of candidates into constituencies,” they said.

“Yet these cases might be in danger of drawing attention away from a more widespread and countervailing trend: that for the most part, British MPs are becoming more local.”

The analysis identified a growing proportion of MPs with local roots since the 2010 general election, culminating in more than half of all those elected in 2019 originating from the nation or region containing their constituency.

Researchers said this trend is likely to continue over coming general elections as older MPs who will probably retire in the next few years tended to be less likely to be local by birth to their constituencies.

Following the 2010 election, which led to the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, 44.5% of all MPs were identified as local.

The proportion steadily increased over the following three elections, leading to 51.5% of all MPs being local following the result in 2019.

However, there remains a difference between Labour and the Conservatives in the overall proportion of MPs considered local to their constituencies.

The research found 34% of Conservative MPs were born in the region where their constituency was located in 2010, rising to 40% following the 2019 general election.

The proportion of Labour MPs classified as local rose from 52% to 58% over the same period.

MPs born in Wales are over-represented across the UK

‘Trends’

However, MPs representing other parties were more likely to have been born in or close to their constituencies.

The overall proportion of all MPs who do not represent the two biggest parties and were identified as local increased from 60% in 2010 to 87% in 2019.

This was largely attributed to nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales, and parties in Northern Ireland, which are more likely to have local MPs.

There was also variation within English regions, with the North East and North West registering high proportions of MPs born locally over the period.

In contrast, less than a quarter of MPs in the East of England had local origins.

In conclusion, the paper said: “It would take a significant decline in the percentage of new MPs to be local for these trends to go into reverse any time soon.

“We should therefore expect to see British MPs becoming increasingly local in the future.”


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Llyn expat
Llyn expat
5 months ago

But if the Senedd’s voting system changes as intended by Labour and Plaid, voters in Wales will have no ability to choose a local candidate, they will just have to take whoever the political parties have put at the top of their lists.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

Gone are the days where politicians are not just born in Wales but actually live in the constituencies they represent How can you know what makes a community tick when you are not physically part of it?. I suppose that’s why so many politicians are detached from reality and have a sense of entitlement. Talking about the percentage of members not born in Wales compared to the other UK nations. Who can recall one sloan ranger Boris Johnson whose initial foray in politics occured 22 yrs ago when he had the audacity to get elected as the Conservative member of… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Y Cymro
Eifion
Eifion
5 months ago

You’d hardly expect the leaders in the colonies to be local, just wouldn’t be cricket.
These lot need to be ruled and not govern themselves.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
5 months ago

Sadly this comes as no surprise given it’s the norm by both labour and the tories to parachute candidates into Wales – and often with no connection to the constituency they are standing in.

Last edited 5 months ago by Leigh Richards
CJPh
CJPh
5 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

It happens internally as well. I don’t know if any given political candidate should have to have a link to the local area, but I do know that Plaid did enjoy placing candidates from Ceredigion and Gogledd Cymru in no-chance seats in Swansea. Were those candidates “parachuted in”? I don’t think so in those cases – despite their accents, both examples I can think of lived and worked in Swansea, despite what the local Labour teams said about them at the time (“parachuted in from the Welshy parts of Wales” was something I heard at the Brangwyn). Is Liz Saville… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by CJPh

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