Where have all the workers gone…

Maybe not the most enthusiastic support from Glasman but encouraging for those of us who have been pointing out the lack of working class backgrounds in the PLP and our parliamentary candidates for a number years.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself agreeing with what John Reid was saying on Andrew Neil’s This Week program. Today the Guardian run a piece on Glasman’s contribution and also another by Tory guru David Skelton who feels that the Tories also suffer from a lack of working class MPs. Myself I would suggest that the Tories are just showing their real face.

Still Skelton gives us a quote from Nye Bevan and also some interesting figures.

In 1979, almost 40% of Labour MPs had done manual or clerical work. In 2010, it was only 9%. Over the same period, the number of Labour MPs who were journalists and broadcasters more than doubled, and 11% of all MPs now have a background in PR and marketing (this was close to zero in 1979). Sixty per cent of government ministers, 54% of Conservative MPs and 40% of Liberal Democrat MPs attended fee-paying schools, compared with only 7% of the population.

I do get angry with Harriet Harman. We are almost forced to defend her from the very unpleasant attacks of the right, yet she is so much a product of her own class. Her idea of diversity has been to increase the number of middle class women Labour MPs. Now we may need more women, but we don’t need more of the middle classes. We are overloaded already.

Still visiting the Labour Diversity Fund website I feel less alone in my views than I did a few years back although I suspect for many of those caught on video, achieving an increase working class MPs is not very high on their agendas.

While talking partly about women MPs I would like to make a quick attack on the Labour Uncut website. If you censor comments to remove unwanted questions on Tessa Jowell’s post as you did with mine it shows a fear of and an inability to answer those questions. I have never hid that I think Tessa is an train crash waiting to happen for the party. Best to get things out in the open before there’s an election and the right wing press start releasing information.

  • Julian

    So, lack of diversity among Tory MPs is the Tories “showing their real face” but lack of diversity among Labour MPs is something different. Maybe the political life just appeals to journalists and PR people, whatever their party.

    Open primaries would go a long way to solving the problem, if there is one.

    • LesAbbey

      I think if the majority of Labour MPs were from working class backgrounds it would show the true face of Labour, whereas of course in my view the opposite is true of the Tories.

      With Labour I don’t really care if they are left/right, male/female, straight/gay or black/white. I do think the party was formed to be the parliamentary representative of the common and working man and it can do that best when most of its MPs have that background.

      Historically the beginning of the big change in the class makeup of the party started with the 1945 intake. Herbert Morrisson who was largely responsible for encouraging more university graduates to stand for Labour was later to rue that he had done so. He said, in a quote that I have trouble finding right now, that those same MPs that he encouraged to stand were the ones that supported Gaitskell against him in the post-Attlee leadership contest.

      Ah primaries! The problem with open primaries is what we are seeing right now with the US Republican primaries. In Iowa the Romney advertising spend is already up past two million dollars. Primaries do seem to end up being a good way of buying the candidate’s slot. I do wonder if this why some support the idea.

      • Anonymous

        Totally agree sadly labour as a socialist party has long gone.

    • http://thepeoplesflag.blogspot.com/ Andy Williams

      Primaries are a ridiculous idea – more ridiculous even than state funded parties.

      All it will achieve is even more middle-of-the-road rubbish.

  • Lecomant

     Sixty per cent of government ministers, 54% of Conservative MPs and 40% of Liberal Democrat MPs attended fee-paying schools, compared with only 7% of the population.
    And the % of Labour MPs who attended fee-paying schools would be??

    • LesAbbey

      Lecomant I found a number of 15% on the Independent’s website. Also there are the percentage of all MPs that went to Oxbridge, 30%, and 90% as being university educated.

  • swatantra

    About time we introduced quotas so that we have a representative section of women, BAME and working class MPs. You’re not going to get them otherwise.

  • Garhywel

    And far too many middle class ones in the Labour party