New Commons still has high proportion of Russell Group graduates

Nine out of ten new MPs in the House of Commons are graduates and 26 per cent hold an Oxbridge degree

May 10, 2015

The figures, from the Sutton Trust, also show 28 per cent went to another Russell Group university.

Today’s figures follow the Trust’s February 2015 research, Parliamentary Privilege – the Candidates, which analysed the educational backgrounds of prospective parliamentary candidates.

The new research brief, Parliamentary Privilege – the MPs, also shows that around half (48 per cent) of Conservative MPs were privately educated, compared with 14 per cent of Liberal Democrats, 5 per cent of SNP MPs for whom the Trust has data and 17 per cent of Labour MPs.

Overall, almost a third of MPs in the new Commons are privately educated. This means that the new House is only a little more representative than that elected in 2010, when 35 per cent of MPs had been to a fee-paying school.

Lee Elliot Major, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, said: “The make-up of the House of Commons may have changed a lot this week but the members of the new House show little change from those who preceded them in one significant respect: where they went to school and university. 

“If Parliament is truly to represent the whole nation, the best people should be able to become MPs, regardless of social background.

“Today’s figures remind us how important it is that we do more to increase levels of social mobility and make sure that bright young people from low and middle income backgrounds have access to the best schools and the best universities.”

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Reader's comments (2)

More troubling for myself, is the lack of candidates attracted to politics from the modern professions relating to technology and commerce, whether recruited from humble or privileged backgrounds. Conventionally, I suspect family affluence and traditions largely aids the typical MP career process, primarily through fees for the desirable independent private schools, or as a poor second via neighbourhoods containing best performing State schools, so giving access to the more prestigious universities. Thereafter politically minded candidates seemingly move predominantly onto Oxbridge mainly to study PPE, Law or arts degrees, then to the traditional professions or increasingly directly into earmarked junior political posts. While the Russell Group ranks next, ostensibly mostly only as second best for the privately educated Oxbridge/other ancients spill over. The trend appears most pronounced in the Tory party and perhaps relates to cautionary social groups dominating constituency parties in charge of selecting MP candidates. If a little less so, the other traditional main parties seem similarly captured by this conventional social mobility hindrance. Perhaps the UK should establish a few excellent/prestigious Technical Universities supportive of high quality industrial R&D organisations and companies to help provide critical mass for better social development of this kind potential MP candidate, so necessary for improved parliamentary balance.
Diversity of intellectual and professional background is certainly desirable, but a technocracy would be just another form of oligarchy, and it is the latter than is tearing what's left of the three-nations consensus and our social fabric to tatters. What we need is a Parliament whose members represent the vast diversity--in philosophy, experience, culture and socio-economic background--of the UK. Only then could we say, honestly, that it is "representational." The only thing worse than a Parliament filled with elitist, privileged fleebs who have no compassion for the unfortunate and no sense of the troubles of ordinary citizens would be a Parliament filled with philistine technocrats who think that arts are a waste of time, only STEM subjects matter and that society can be "socially-engineered" towards a better future. But things will never change as long as we have this outdated, undemocratic FPTP voting system, that is for certain.

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