Only a third of Conservative MPs have 'local links' to constituency - thinktank
Just a third of Conservative MPs were born, educated or recently lived in their constituency before entering the Commons, new thinktank research has revealed.
Demos found that overall, about half of parliamentarians met the criteria, with Labour and the SNP performing better than the Tories.
While 104 of 318 Conservative MPs had links to their constituency pre-dating their political careers, 168 of 262 (64.1%) Labour MPs and 26 of 35 (74%) SNP parliamentarians were from their local area, The Times reports.
To be pass the so-called “local test”, MPs had to have been born or educated in their constituency, or to have lived within 20km of its boundaries five years before representing it.
The Demos research also found at least 70% of constituencies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London were represented by people who met the criteria, compared to just 26% in the east of England and 28% in the south-east.
Demos said: “It is clear that there is a profound chasm between the parties in terms of their local credentials, and the data indicates that the efforts by those within the Conservative party to examine its long-term future and renew its modernisation strategy would also benefit from exploring opportunities to emphasise stronger local representation in constituency shortlists.
“This is made particularly clear in the fact that such a large proportion of the seats that turned from the Conservatives to Labour during the election were won by those with strong local connections – indicating that localism may have also become a powerful electoral strategy.”
The thinktank also said candidates with local links may have been more likely to win seats in the recent general election.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP for North East Somerset, said it was “easier” to be an MP with knowledge of the constituency.
“I think it does make a difference in the way in which you are perceived,” he added.
“People think that if you’re local you’re more likely to go in to bat for them on a planning issue or the closure of a local hospital.”