I came across ripped-off Britons blog post lamenting the decreasing number of MPs from manual work backgrounds and the rise of those from who were political organisers before they became MPs. This also linked to a report produced by the House of Commons library giving more details for those elected in 2010 and breaking them down by party.
Whilst about a third of MP’s come from professional backgrounds (35% Cons, 34% Lab, 39% LDems) there are some significant differences. Barrister / Solicitors account for 18% of Conservatives, 10% Labour and 8% Lib Dems. However, Teachers / Lecturers account for 1% Cons, 13% Lab, 18% LDems.
A similar marked difference is seem in those with business backgrounds, 41% Conservative, 19% Lib Dems and only 8% Labour, and with manual work 9% Labour, 2% Lib Dems and 1% Conservative.
There is also a significant difference in those coming from ‘political organiser’ 20% Labour, 12% Lib Dem and 10% Conservative. This is probably due to the number of Labour MPs with a Trade Union background. But it also points to a growing trend of senior politicians and ministers all having a similar background (PPE at Oxford, work as Special Advisor, MP, junior minister / shadow etc); the last figures I can find suggest nearly half the Labour front bench went to private schools, half went to Oxford/Cambridge and a third did PPE, .
Apart from the more obvious conclusions which can be drawn I wonder how far these figures also give a sense of the political bias of different parts of society. I know it doesn’t necessarily follow that just because more Lib Dem / Labour MPs were teachers that teachers are more likely to support Lib Dems but it is likely that there is some correlation. Thus teachers are more likely to have left of centre political views, manual workers support Labour and business people support Conservative. That wouldn’t be a surprise, but if it is true I’m not sure it is healthy for politics or for society.