Thursday 22 April 2010


The publication of the names of the candidates for the Westminster election on May 6 also contains an indication of where they live (either their address, or the constituency in which they live). Since the basis of the semi-democratic single-seat First-Past-The-Post electoral is that MPs are elected by and for the electors of a defined area, this information allows us to see whether the prospective MPs do actually have much of an identification with their constituencies.

Using the highly scientific method of giving a score of 0 to those candidates who live within their constituencies, a score of 1 to those who live in a neighbouring constituency, and a score of 2 to those who live in a non-neighbouring constituency, the following can be observed:
  • 67 candidates live in the constituency they hope to represent (62%)
  • 24 candidates live in a neighbouring constituency to that that they hope to represent (22%)
  • 17 candidates live quite far away from the constituency they hope to represent (16%)
In terms of parties, the Greens score an impressive 0.0 - all of their 4 candidates are 'in constituency'; the SDLP is second best on 0.52; the Alliance Party third on an average score of 0.53; Sinn Féin, the TUV and UCUNF are all on 0.54; and the 'least-local' award goes to the DUP with a score of 0.55.

The constituencies most 'at risk' of carpet-baggery are South Antrim and South Belfast, each with an average score of 1.0. The most 'local' constituencies are, conversely, the neighbouring ones of Strangford and Lagan Valley. Perhaps this indicates the areas where the political class prefers to live?
The prize for biggest carpet-bagger of them all must go to the TUV's Sammy Morrison who gives an address in Fermanagh and South Tyrone but hopes to represent East Antrim! Runners up include East Belfast-based SDLP candidate Fearghal McKinney who hopes to represent Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Belfast-based Alliance candidate Keith McGrellis who hopes to respresent Foyle. At least McKinney and McGrellis are natives of their chosen constituencies.

The Alliance Party seem to have trouble finding candidates west of the Bann – their West Tyrone candidate lives in North Down, as does their Newry and Armagh candidate. Is the Alliance Party hoping to bring civilisation to the savages?


Anonymous said...

I made this point about addresses of candidates in a Blog the other day.
Suggested that living outside the constituency was a growing trend...there has always been an aspect....Paisley, Hendron, McGuinness.....not to mention Ruane and Doherty.
It strikes me that the "address in Upper Bann" or whatever is a kinda bogus security oncern. Or presented as such. There was always a group of candidates who "used" the Partys local advice centre. It can be no surprise that Sinn Féins North Down runner is a West Belfast man.
Certainly in the days when Ian Paisley Junior can travel from Lagan Valley to North Antrim in half an hour its not a big issue.
It may or may not be related to MPs expenses in SOME cases.
But some surprises are thrown up. Daphne Trimble lives in Lambeg. Does David know?????
And certainly a number of our politicians are upwardly mobile. No harm in that. I have been myself.
Alban Magennis, Mary Muldoon, Alex Attwood (somewhere in South Belfast apparently).
As for Alliance, they are top heavy in members in the usual places and there are no real names (Ann Gormley excepted) west of the Bann. McGrellis is actually a very late nominee and it might be a poisoned chalice in Derry (after Pointless Ford) said what he said.
The Greens are perhaps misleading (too few to be statistically valuable)and I think McGibbon in South Belfast is still a student so he might well be transient in Stranmillis.
The TUV are actually quite interesting not just in terms of bringing in outsiders (a sign of weakness normally) yet backed by Cedric Wilson and Paddy Roche.

hoboroad said...

Yes the TUV has sucked up the waifs and strays of UKUP/NIUP, which begs the question how long before the split?

Anonymous said...

Too many parties. Especially with the very undemocratic first-past-the-post nonsense.

thedissenter said...

NI isn't that big. You might think that it isn't such a big deal as, afterall, they are meant to be in Westminster representing their constituents not on call social workers.

davenewman said...

Actually, the most remembered MP was Gerry Fitt, because his whole family were on call social workers, serving the people, rather than bossing them around.