The electoral impact of the UK 2009 MPs' expenses scandal

Charles Pattie*, Ron Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The 2009 scandal over British MPs' expenses claims unleashed a powerful and highly vocal tide of public anger with elected politicians. It claimed some political careers: some of the MPs most heavily implicated in the scandal decided (or were forced) to stand down at the 2010 election rather than face the voters' wrath. Others struggled to deal with the consequences and the party leaderships felt they had to be seen to be responsive to public outrage. But the scandal hit a year before the UK general election, a contest dominated by anxieties over a deep global recession, looming public sector cuts and antipathies towards a deeply unpopular prime minister. In this environment, no-one could be sure of the scandal's wider electoral fallout. Would the departure of the most notably guilty MPs assuage public anger, or would the effects be more extensive, taking in either implicated MPs seeking re-election, or even all MPs standing again, irrespective of their involvement? The article examines the scandal's electoral implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-750
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Election
  • Scandal
  • Voting


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