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Blessed Be the Tie that Unbinds: Constituency Pressures and National Party Forces in Great Britain

Cain, Bruce E. (1980) Blessed Be the Tie that Unbinds: Constituency Pressures and National Party Forces in Great Britain. Social Science Working Paper, 347. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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This study looks at the relationship between constituency service and party ties at the local and national levels. The data come from two surveys: one of the British electorate in May 1979 and the other of Members and their agents in those constituencies sampled in the voter study. Pressures at the local party level, it is argued, reinforce the electoral incentive for Members to perform constituency services diligently. Members widely believe that constituency work improves relations with activists and bolsters local party morale. For their part, core constituents—activists and strong party identifiers—value constituency work very highly and are more likely than other groups in the electorate to make use of the Member's services. The effect of constituency effort at the local level is to weaken party ties at the national level. Ivor Crewe noted that Labour fought very well in its marginal seats in 1979, and this study argues that this was because Labour MPs in marginal seats worked hard to establish a local identity. MPs in marginal seats tend to have more favourable voter ratings than do those in safer seats. Moreover, MPs who were active in their constituencies had better swings in 1979 than MPs who were inactive. For Labour Members, constituency work "cushioned" the swing, and for Conservative Members, it "amplified" the swing. The paper concludes with some speculation about why non-policy pressures might increase at the local level.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:347
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171009-134354099
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82219
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:09 Oct 2017 22:09
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:52

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