How many MPs actually live in their constituency?

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 5, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Friday, October 5th, 2007
10:34 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

A big job goes begging….

A few Tories are up in arms over at Chicken Yoghurt, claiming that they’ve been misrepresented by Justin quoting them verbatim and linking to each and every source.

The following thought occurred to me during the early part of that exchange:

… isn’t it about time someone did a fresh study of MPs, showing how many of them live in their own constituency (perhaps with a party-by-party % summary at the end)?

I’m sure I’ve seen studies like this featured in print media in the past… I just haven’t seen one recently.

So, that big job that goes begging is as follows:

1. Locate and collate previous studies of how many MPs actually live in their constituencies (yes, even if it’s only at weekends while Parliament is in session).

2. If no recent study exists, start with this list and draw up a fresh study of how many MPs actually live in their constituencies (yes, even if it’s only at weekends while Parliament is in session). The data should include individual entries for each MP/constituency and the final table should allow users to compare data at least on a party-by-party basis. If you have the capacity, handy extra data-sets to have would include (a) the distance from each constituency to Westminster and (b) the distance the out-of-towners have to travel to get to their constituency and Westminster.

Some detective work and bullshit-dodging will be required; during the 2005 election the then-candidate Anne Milton did not live in Guildford and, as it turns out, had no intention of moving to Guildford. Despite this, the official record (the ballot paper) suggested otherwise at the time, as she had taken out a single-bedroom flat in the area; additionally, her campaign literature made much of the fact that the then-serving MP who *did* live in Guildford had the temerity to be born elsewhere.

Which brings us to…

3. When an election is called (now or later) the data will need to be expanded to take primary candidates into account and, ideally, a central blog/category will need to be created/managed to document campaign literature that disregards and/or plays games with the facts you have in your possession.

This focused project would be an excellent vehicle for an up-and-coming journalist and/or blogger wishing to make their mark. It would also be a valuable tool for the electorate, as the “Are you local?” issue is always a big one and is often a centre of deception in resulting campaign literature.


  1. Scott says

    YOu might be interested in one of the issues that has arisen in the Scottish Parliament which relates to constituency homes and expenses. One SNP MSP and government minister – Stewart Stevenson – is from Linlithgow near Edinburgh. However, he is the MSP for Banff and Buchan, near Aberdeen (a 2 1/2 hour train trip away and then a 40 mile road trip). Stevenson sold his mortgage free house in Linlithgow to buy a constituency residence. This house is mortgage free. Stevenson then bought an Edinburgh (or near Edinburgh residence). This house is in Linlithgow, round the corner from his previous house – and purchased with a mortgage. The expense rules indicate that the Parliament can pay a proprotion of his mortgage. I have no idea how frequently he is in his constituency, but for a while I (a commuter to Edinburgh) encountered him on the train nearly daily. The full story is at… and Stevenson has been embroiled in other trouble detailed at in a story broken by the ridiculous politics blog. Stevenson was also a rare Scottish serving politician who blogged – but has stopped in the past few weeks.Scott

  2. goatchurch says

    We can reduce it to a simple sound-bite: "How many candidates are eligible to vote for themselves?"Ask the person on the campaign trail who they are going to vote for. If they're not local they can't say: "I'm going to vote for myself."Why should I vote for you if you don't even vote for yourself?

  3. underblog says

    Come now Tim, I thought you'd given Anne Milton a pass?Another complication: Are their house in the constituency and their London pad their only homes, or do they have a holiday home in Cornwall/France/Portugal/Jamaica that they bugger off to for most of recess.

  4. Manic says

    Nice angle, goatchurch:o)underblog: A pardon does not equal a free pass to continue to take the piss. I like the idea of an extra data-set for holiday homes, though.

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