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June 01, 2010



Your final question is an interesting one. I wonder whether the need to keep the Lib Dems happy will see the Tories ditch their proposal to institutionalise discrimination against unmarried couples in the tax system.

plashing vole

Conservatives are often homophobic and biased towards the nuclear family - I suspect they'd prefer to suffer in a marriage or behave adulterously rather than admit defeat, face what they perceive as public shame and - for the rich ones - divvy up massive inheritances and landholdings. The Conservative Associations are even more reactionary than their MPs and will largely select only married heterosexuals.


By contrast, amongst 40-64 year-olds generally, only 68.4% are married. 15.3% are divorced and 13.5% are single.

How many of the single ones are widows or widowers, I wonder? You wouldn't expect many of those among Cabinet ministers, who come from and marry into the longer-lived professional classes.


What about the causal effect in the other direction? Such as:

1. Those in strong relationships have someone there to provide emotional support and so find it easier to reach the top.

2. The partner of the politician may have become interested in that person because they could be successful, and they would quite like being married to a successful politician.

However, I have to disagree with this bit:

"There's only a one in 2500 chance that this would happen by pure luck."

It didn't happen by pure luck. At least, David Laws wouldn't have gone if he had been married/in a civil partnership, since he wouldn't have been hiding his relationship. His marital status and him not being in the cabinet are not independent. Thus, a calculation should only be done for the chances of only 1 member of the cabinet being not married.


Not sure about your calculations, actually. 68% married implies out of a cabinet of 29 (according to the Number 10 website) you'd have about 20 married and 9 single/divorced. On your probability calculations; assuming a binomial distribution, the probability of having 29 married out of 29 individuals is 1 in about 61000. Your figures don't indicate where divorced-and-remarried individuals are binned, but counting them as divorced (ie 27 of 29 married) gives about 1 in about 700.

Your binomial calculator is a little suspect, since it returns a probability for a number of success greater than the number of trials. My figures are from R, by the way.


I think for the very top social/economic class, which the Cabinet have been in for years, the divorce rate is lower and marriage rate is higher.


Alex Ferguson prefers his players to be married too.

Perhaps you could argue that MP/candidate selection is done in an unfair manner and might be considered illegal in other forms of employment

Fred Kapoor

@Alex "Those in strong relationships have someone there to provide emotional support and so find it easier to reach the top." haha excellent insight. I haven't thought of it that way.

Chris Purnell

I would be more concerned if they were all 'faith-based' Christians with an evangelical turn of mind. Blair did more than enough damage on his own with his ludicrous opinions about the efficacy of faith based schools for example.

Bruce Lee

Really helpful blog, thanks!

Zambian Economist


No we should not. To worry is to give in to a false premise of Executive Branch "representation".

Surely its not the job of the Executive even in a Parliamentary democracy to be "representative". That is the job of the legislature.

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