Where does Eric Pickles buy his pickles?

This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.
This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.

The big political question that no-one is willing to talk about is where members of parliament do their shopping. I mean, obviously when they’re in parliament they probably go to that little Tesco Express by Westminster tube station to buy, e.g. a lasagne and a miniature bottle of wine, but what about when they’re at home?

For obvious reasons most MPs don’t publicise the locations of their houses, but the majority of them do have a publicly available address for their constituency office. Almost all of these these are available on the parliament website; about 50 don’t publish one at all so I’ve used either the address of place they most often do their “surgery” events for constituents, or that of their party’s local office, to stand in.

Gathering this data itself was an interesting demonstration of: 1) how difficult some MPs make it for their constituents to get in touch to talk about their concerns (sometimes there’s more information about how to get a tour of the Houses of Parliament), and 2) how bloody awful (and often quite broken) most MPs’ websites are. Anyway, with that in hand we can figure out what their local supermarket situation is.

Average distance between constituency offices and supermarkets

The constituency offices of Conservative Party MPs tend to be the furthest away from supermarkets; on average they have to go almost twice as far as Labour MPs to do their shopping. This is probably illustrative of the fact that Labour tend to do better in urban areas & the Conservatives in rural ones, or maybe it’s because of Global Warming???

We can also see what the closest supermarket chain tends to be for each party’s offices.

conservative labour ld

Interestingly, despite The Co-operative group’s links with the Labour Party (32 of Labour’s MPs are also joint members of the Co-operative political party), Labour constituency offices tend to be closer to Tesco branches, while Co-op branches tend to be the closest supermarkets to Tory & Lib Dem offices.

Lib Dem offices favour Marks & Spencers more than those of other parties, Iceland is a lot more popular with Labour, and no-one much shops at Budgens.

Obviously there are some variables we can’t account for: Chris Kelly, MP for Dudley South, has an office that’s close to a Tesco Express, but maybe he really like Marks and Spencers’ Percy Pigs pig-shaped confectionery items, so makes the 10 km round trip every day to get himself a bag from the Merry Hill store. His terrible website doesn’t mention whether he likes Percy Pigs. Perhaps the government should have a website detailing which MPs like which sweets, to allow the public to get more of an idea about where their representatives do their shopping.

Below you can see the average distance of an MP’s office from each brand’s stores in kilometres, grouped by party. (Based on the closest 40 stores to each office.)

overall

Nick Clegg’s closest store is a Tesco Express at an Esso petrol station, but I reckon he does his mum’s shopping at Londis.

Eric Pickles is closest to an M&S, so that’s probably where he gets his pickles, except on special occasions when he goes to the only slightly further away Iceland to get a mint Viennetta.

I assume I’ll probably have to go on the run now I’ve released all this sensitive government data, but this is bigger than me. People had to know.

(Supermarket data was provided by Chris Zetter, creator of the excellent SuperLocate iOS app. Other supermarkets are available. Here’s a Google Doc of the constituency office data. No accuracy is guaranteed.)

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