On the ConservativeHome website yesterday there was an article about Parliamentary Candidates who are (or have been) Councillors in part of the seat they hope to represent in Parliament. They reckon that out of the 200 Conservative candidates in the 200 most winnable seats, 51 are or have been Councillors in them.
As a Councillor for Edgbaston, I am of course one of the 51. And I do agree with some of the comments posted that being a Councillor first in the area you hope to represent in Parliament does have a lot of advantages. I think this is particularly so in Birmingham where our wards are huge. In fact we only have 4 wards in the whole constituency.
The ward of Edgbaston (which I have represented on Birmingham City Council since 1999) is therefore one quarter of the constituency. My husband has been one of the Councillors in another ward, Harborne (where we live) since 1983. That means half of the parliamentary constituency is already represented by an Alden. It also means I know the constituency like the back of my hand.
Perhaps with our large wards, it’s not surprising that Birmingham has quite a history of Councillors becoming MPs. Four current Birmingham MPs (John Hemming, Lynne Jones, Steve McCabe and Khalid Mahmood) were Birmingham Councillors before they were elected to Parliament.
The Edgbaston parliamentary constituency is unique in having been represented by a woman since 1953. The first Conservative lady MP for Edgbaston, Dame Edith Pitt, was also a Birmingham Councillor prior to becoming an MP. She was followed by another Conservative Dame Jill Knight (now Baroness Knight) and she was also a Councillor first, although not in Birmingham.
At the next General Election there are a number of Birmingham Councillors who will be candidates – including (for the Conservatives) Nigel Dawkins, Robert Alden, and Colin Hughes as well as me.