Yes, I know, a lot of UKIP members and many disillusioned voters see most of the present lot of MPs as a bunch of lying traitors. But, putting emotions aside, what kind of people are they, and what are their backgrounds? Are they all a gang of “elite career politicians” or are our perceptions determined by our prejudices against them?

So, I decided to dig into some facts, and lo and behold I found that parliament had made my task easier with this report. Rather than considering the detail of historical trends, which the report covers, I mainly looked at the make-up of the 2010 Parliament, but glancing back to 1979 when it comes to their occupations and education. Also, I have analysed the equivalent numbers amongst our MEPs. I’d like to do the same exercise for our PPCs, but without a vast amount of research: I fear that is a difficult one to crack right now.

First off, how many men and women? The trend over time has been for a larger percentage of women MPs, but the 2010 snapshot (plus current UKIP numbers) looks like this:

Group Men Women Total % Women
UK Parliament 507 143 650 22.0%
Labour MPs 177 81 258 31.4%
Conservative MPs 257 49 306 16.0%
Lib Dem MPs 50 7 57 12.3%
UKIP MEPs 17 7 24 29.2%

So, for all the efforts of LibLabCon with their all-women shortlists and positive discrimination, they are doing no better than UKIP’s MEPs have done in this department

Now let’s take a look at average ages, which have stayed remarkably constant over the years:

Group: All MPs Lab MPs Con MPs LD MPs UKIP MEPs
Average age: 49.9 52.3 47.7 50.2 52.8

While the shift looks remarkably small, as an average the lower Conservative MP figure is telling – they, more than any other party, have gone for the younger MP. With the party led by a PR man, this is doubtless a cynical attempt to project a more youthful image to capture younger voters. While our MEPs are slightly older than Labour’s, there’s nothing wrong with a bit more experience of life, is there?

The next table in the Parliamentary report covers ethnicity.

Group White Non-White Total % Non-white
UK Parliament 623 27 650 4.2%
Labour MPs 242 16 258 6.2%
Conservative MPs 295 11 306 3.6%
Lib Dem MPs 57 0 57 0.0%
UKIP MEPs 22 2 24 9.1%

So, for all the trumpeting of LibLabCon, they do not have such a good record here, while UKIP’s MEPs beat them hands down. So, does having 9.1% of our MEPs from non-white backgrounds, way higher than Labour’s percentage of non-white MPs, makes us a racist party in the eyes of some?

After this, the report looks at the occupations of the MPs, before they became MPs. This is quite telling, on several levels:

Occupation 1979 2010 Change Index UKIP MEPs
No. % No. % No. %
Professions 278 44.9% 218 35.1% 0.78 6 25.0%
Barrister 67 10.8% 38 6.1% 0.57 1 4.2%
Solicitor 29 4.7% 48 7.7% 1.65 1 4.2%
Doctor 8 1.3% 9 1.4% 1.12 1 4.2%
Civil servant 30 4.8% 18 2.9% 0.60 0 0.0%
Higher Ed. Teacher 28 4.5% 25 4.0% 0.89 1 4.2%
School Teacher 49 7.9% 24 3.9% 0.49 1 4.2%
Other Profession 67 10.8% 56 9.0% 0.83 1 4.2%
Business 138 22.3% 156 25.1% 1.13 9 37.5%
Miscellaneous 106 17.1% 222 35.7% 2.09 8 33.4%
White Collar 9 1.5% 84 13.5% 9.30 4 12.5%
Politics 21 3.4% 90 14.5% 4.27 1 4.2%
Publishing 46 7.4% 38 6.1% 0.82 1 4.2%
Farmer 23 3.7% 10 1.6% 0.43 0 0.0%
Other Miscellaneous 7 1.1% 0 0% 0.00 2 8.3%
Manual Workers 98 15.8% 25 4.0% 0.25 1 4.2%
Miner 21 3.4% 7 1.1% 0.33 0 0.0%
Other manual workers 77 12.4% 18 2.9% 0.23 1 4.2%

In some areas, this feeds widely-held prejudices, in others it denies them. Many perceive parliament to be made up of a combination of career politicians and the rest as legal eagles. However, only 14.5% are classed as careerists, but that has increased by a large amount over the years. In terms of the legal profession, they are as strongly represented as ever, albeit more at solicitor than barrister level. This perhaps is part of reflecting on a better-paid society tending towards a more middle-class existence, witnessed by the doubling of the “miscellaneous” group, particularly of “white collar”. This is matched by a massive reduction of the number of manual workers represented in Parliament, albeit a large part of this reflects the reduction of manual work amongst the population with manufacturing jobs disappearing to be replaced with “service industry” jobs.

There is a table in the Parliamentary report showing the breakdown of occupations for LibLabCon. This has no surprises: most manual worker types are in the Labour party, the Tories have by far the largest percentage of those from business backgrounds (41%), and Labour the higher number of “career politicians” (20%).

But, how do our UKIP MEPs compare with that division of occupations? Most notable is the higher number of those in business, but to some extent that is not surprising, given that with a cash-strapped party, those wanting to advance themselves need to be in a business that can sustain them financially while they put time into politics. UKIP has a slightly lower percentage of those in the professions, but other than that we are not an unusual lot, other than the “other miscellaneous” group into which I have put Louise Bours as an actress, and Jane Collins as an equine physiotherapist.

The final relevant table in the report is on Education, into which I have added our MEPs:

Group Education 1979 % 2010 %
Conservative MPs Fee-paying school 73% 54%
University 68% 80%
Oxbridge 49% 34%
Labour MPs Fee-paying school 18% 14%
University 59% 72%
Oxbridge 21% 17%
Lib Dem MPs Fee-paying school 55% 39%
University 45% 81%
Oxbridge 27% 28%
UKIP MEPs Fee-paying school 12.5%
University 50%
Oxbridge 12.5%

Not many surprises here, then. However, many will claim they are all “elitist”, but in terms of education, Labour are not, with far lower percentages of MPs who have been to Fee-paying schools, or to Oxbridge, than the Conservatives, and even the Liberal Democrats. The increasing number of those going to University reflects the growing trend for more young people to have a University education, but now, as our policy reflects, it is too many, more than there are jobs to accommodate.

But, when we look at UKIP, we not at all elitist. We have the lowest proportion of those going through any form of “advantaged” education. We have to ask, though, does that disadvantage us in any way? I do not believe so, but we must never forget that “The Establishment” is made up of that small elite club who have been to a fee-paying school, and onto Oxford or Cambridge. They will not like the presence of plain-talking UKIPpers in the corridors of power in 2015, and we must be on our guard for them defending their bastions.

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