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