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Title: Bring in the professionals : how pre-parliamentary political experience affects political careers in the House of Commons
Author: Allen, Peter
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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In this thesis I use original empirical data to examine the impact of the political experience of MPs before they enter parliament on their careers once inside the House of Commons. The contribution I make to knowledge is twofold. First, I build on existing literature in the field by developing a stand-alone classification of pre-parliamentary political experience that distinguishes between experience gained on the local level, for example as a local councillor, and experience gained on the national level, working for an MP or in the head office of a political party. Second, I empirically operationalise this classification and support it adopting quantitative research techniques. Using a cohort study of those MPs first elected at the 1997 general election, I find that those MPs with national-level pre-parliamentary political experience are more likely to reach cabinet-level frontbench positions while MPs with local-level experience are more likely to remain backbenchers or reach only the lower levels of government. I highlight the ways in which national-level pre-parliamentary political experience interacts with other political and personal factors to provide a small group of MPs with a preferential parliamentary career path relative to their colleagues. I conclude by placing my findings in the context of comparative research on political parties, reflecting that certain types of party structure privilege specific types of pre-parliamentary political experience. I also consider the findings in light of debates on political representation and professionalisation, and highlight directions for future research in this area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available