New analysis published today (Mon) outlines the background of future Members of Parliament and raises important issues about the nature of public engagement in national politics.
The New Local Government Network (NLGN) thinktank analysed 782 PPCs or 94% of all selected candidates from the three main political parties. Its figures show that:
- relatively small numbers of prospective candidates have experience in frontline public services (Labour 14.3%; Conservatives 8.6%; Lib Dems 13.9%)
- reasonable numbers of candidates have some form of business background (Conservatives 46%; Lib Dems 30%; Labour 18.2%)
- very high numbers of candidate have local government experience (Lib Dems 61.9% are or have been councillors; 44.8% Conservatives; 44.2% Labour)
- a significant number of PPCs have experience working for a political party (15%), and working in Parliament (10%).
The figures also show a wide gender gap with 71.9% of PPCs being men and only 28.1% women.
The figures have been published as part of an ongoing NLGN project looking into engagement and representation in local politics and how civic involvement can be revived.
It comes after significant debate about whether political parties should look towards new innovations such as primaries to reconnect parties with the public and encourage a more diverse group of people to stand for Parliament.
Director of NLGN, Chris Leslie suggested that the figures should spark a debate about how political parties engage with local communities. He said:em>
“More people from a wider range of backgrounds should have the opportunity to shape the rules and take part in decision-making at all levels in our country. If we are ever to see a renaissance of civic involvement, we need everyone to have the chance to identify with somebody in a position of power.Great strides forward have been made in recent times to broaden the social and economic backgrounds of our politicians. While the ‘established’ Oxbridge backgrounds and traditional professions are still well represented, each party is bringing its own new trend into the candidates they are selecting.
While there are no right or wrong occupations for PPCs, it is obviously in the interest of political parties to recruit candidates from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
“Over the next few months NLGN will be publishing ideas and proposals for invigorating political engagement, including a focus on primaries, elected mayors and political party reform. These figures give us a good evidence base on which to discuss the influences upon the future leaders of our country”.