Lawrence McKay

Title of thesis

Investigating the representation gap


Recent political upheavals have drawn increasing attention to the topic of political alienation. My thesis aims to locate this discontent in local contexts: economic, social, and political. I make use of an innovative British Election Study dataset in order to assess how people view the representation of their local communities by the central government. My thesis approaches the issue from several different directions. One angle, utilising multi-level methods, assesses the influence of localised socio-economic contexts of poverty, wages, unemployment, immigration, etc. Another is the effect of local political supply: what are the consequences of living in marginal versus safe seats and contact by political campaigns? Does it matter which party is in charge locally as well as nationally? In addition, I aim to determine whether we can detect localised effects of the controversial austerity policies implemented under the Coalition government. Finally, I enquire into whether the perception of a central government which ignored local communities was potentially a driver of the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016. This thesis is funded by the ESRC in collaboration with CASE partners the Hansard Society.

Submission date

September 2019

Academic supervisors

Research interests

Political representation, alienation, the economy, austerity, voting behaviour, British, European and American politics.


  • 2016: MA in Politics, University of Exeter (Distinction)
  • 2015: BA in History, University of Exeter (1st)


Collaborated on the Audit of Political Engagement 13 (Hansard Society, 2016).


ESRC and CASE funded student.

Teaching experience

Current teaching assistant on 'From Blitz To Brexit: British Politics and Society since 1940' (POLI20531). My responsibilities include independently planning and conducting tutorials, aiding students in office hours, administrative tasks, and marking of essays and exams.

Additional information

Member of the Political Studies Association (PSA UK) and the Early Career Network (PSA ECN).

Contact details