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8 October 2014updated 17 Jan 2024 7:06am

Not a single sitting MP won a majority of their constituency

Can Britain be a beacon of democracy when none of its representatives were endorsed by even half of their constituents?

By harry harry

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Are some MPs more legitimate than others? Last week we took at by-election results since 2010, and showed how eight Labour MPs have been elected by less than a fifth of their electorate.

While turnout is often low at by-elections, George Galloway garnered far more support in his by-election than these Labour MPs: he won nearly 30 per cent of Bradford West’s eligible voters. But he still didn’t manage to convince even a third of his electorate.

How common is this? Compared to the percentage of the vote MPs won in 2010, the 28.4 per cent Galloway managed is a fairly average sum. There are 650 MPs. If we rank them all by this measure of legitimacy, the median MP won 30.1 per cent of their votes, which is very similar to the mean winning margin (30.6 per cent).

14 sitting MPs were backed by less than a fifth of their constituents.

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In other words, most MPs are endorsed by less a third of their constituency.

At one end of the scale, six MPs won less than a fifth of their seat in 2010. Three were Northern Irish MPs (DUP), and the three others were Phil Woolas in Oldham & Saddleworth, Simon Wright in Norwich South, and Austin Mitchell in Great Grimsby.

Woolas has since been replaced by Debbie Abrahams, who just managed to pass 20 per cent, which leaves Wright, Mitchell and the three DUP MPs – along with the eight new Labour MPs elected in recent by-elections, and Mike Thornton, who held Eastleigh for the Lib Dems earlier this year – as the most illegitimate members of the House.

Who, then, is the most legitimate? …

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