In 1979, 40% of Labour MPs came from a manual occupation; according to analysis by the Smith Institute that is now down to 9%. Just 4% of all representatives in the Commons can claim a background in a manual occupation, which is roughly the same proportion as went to Eton. Over one in four of all Tory MPs were previously employed in finance; more parliamentarians came from jobs in politics than from health, teaching, the army, agriculture and voluntary services put together. With his frictionless ascent from thinktanks to backroom Labour politics to the cabinet, David Miliband is typical of the gilded class who masquerade as our delegates in Westminster. The consequences of this narrowness are easy to see. In this paper and elsewhere there has been much wistfulness about the Spirit of 45, after Ken Loach's recent film. But that spirit, as the film outlines, came from people's lived experiences. Think about the Class of 45: Ernie Bevin – a former lorry driver; Peter Mandelson's granddad, Herbert Morrison – a grocer's assistant. And, the father of the NHS, Nye Bevan: a bolshie ex-miner. However different their politics, it's hard to imagine any of these three accepting a retrospective law imposing benefit sanctions on unemployed people refusing private "workfare", as Ed Miliband's party did last month.Perhaps Ed will follow his brother instead of leading him.
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