Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A legislature full of a Unisex version of the Stepford Wives.

Sn article by Welsh Labour AM Mike Hedges might explain why there seems to be such a  large difference between the Labour Membership as an whole and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

In an article for  Welsh Labour Grass Roots he writes

Whilst some well-connected candidates were selected in 1997 in seats such as Swindon North, 2001 was the first election where large numbers of well-connected candidates were being supported and elected. In the words of Byron Criddle writing in the British General election 2001 ‘Millband ‘s attempt to secure selection in Labour-held seats for favoured party staffers’. Andy Burnham, a Labour political adviser, won the selection in Leigh amid allegations of his having a head start with access to the membership for over a year. David Milliband, another senior political adviser, was selected in South Shields. Shaun Woodward MP, who left the Conservatives for Labour in 1999, was selected in St Helens South from an NEC-devised shortlist.Gwyneth Dunwoody spoke of the naked ambition of a small number of people, some of whom have not been in the Labour party for very long, who believe they have a God-given right to be, not only Labour MPs, but Ministers as well. Overall, about 1/3 of the new Labour MPs were former party staffers or had worked for MPs.Also in 2001, the number of new MPs who were either long-serving councillors or Council leaders dropped to approximately 1/3 of the new in-take of Labour MPs.
He continues ,,,

2005 saw the bringing in of the ostensibly politically neutral act of all women shortlists. This, together with the ability of the NEC to produce the shortlist for late retirements, gave the NEC great control over selections. A number of both male and female ministerial aides and senior party staff were selected. To quote Byron Criddle from the British General Election 2005: ‘Labour as the new ‘natural party of government’ was seeking to use a centralised system of candidate selection to transfer reliable favoured policy advisers and party staffers from state or party bureaucracies to parliament and ministerial careers.’In 2010, approximately 2/5 of new MPs came from careers as either ministerial or Member of Parliament aides. The 2015 selections followed the same format as 2010 and the election result was described by Diane Abbott MP in the following terms: “the Labour Party has paid a price for parachuting in one too many special advisers into industrial seats. There is a great deal of hand-wringing about UKIP and its inroads into previously rock solid Labour seats, but one cause of disaffection among core Labour voters is the sense that there is a remote Westminster class which doesn’t relate to them.” This was further shown by the size of the vote to withdraw from the European Union in many of these Labour seats.Therefore, over the last 20 years we have gone from a majority of local candidates becoming MPs to the growth of a new political class becoming Labour MPs.
I became disillusioned with mainstream parties  with main stream Politics when a mature student at Aberystwyth ,

There I saw students who clearly irrespective of their degree subject  who wer clearly intent on carving out a career in Politics and the Students Union was the way to do it.No matter how sincere they were in their belief  (and I think they were largely sincere) 

Among my contemporaries was Carwyn Jones now First Minister and Alun Davies then a young Plaid firebrand now a controversial  Labour Minister alongside Carwyn in the Assembly.

You can extend this (even more so today) to all the Universities in the UK and particularly the Ox-bridge collages where undergraduates can see a future in Number Ten and begin their climb up the greasy pole via their College Party Student affiliates and the Union.

Looking froward to getting a Job with an MP as a researcher almost immediately and then being parachuted into a safe seat for life .

Hardly ever knowing any work outside the political  bubble.

We seem to be heading for a Unisex version of the Stepford Wives in our legislatures. MPs from virtually identical backgrounds, experience  and views  facing each other across the chamber, differing only by their own and party names/


  1. As a contrast, I suggest that you take a look at the biographies and work histories of SNP MPs at Westminster, most of whom (not all) come from very deep and varied work histories.
    The health spokesman is a cancer surgeon, the economics spokesman a Professor of economics etc, etc.
    Ok, we can make room for a 20 year old brand new politics graduate (1st Class), but Mhairi is just great too. And she beat Douglas Alexander in his safe seat.
    The establishment dismisses these real people as irrelevant to their bubble.
    You can't tell the difference between Tories and "Labour" now, though you can spot the sleazy slime of UKIP - I give you Wales's very own Neil Hamilton.......
    Unfortunately the May government will crush all of us dissenters anyway, by force if necessary, and still win a majority from the little Englanders.
    What now?

  2. When Carwyn was Chair of Aberystwyth Uni Labour Club I was Vice Chair and am currently Branch Secretary of the GMB Merton Trade Union in London. the Aberdeen we took control of the club from Toby Burke, Daventry Richards aka Militant but now I support Corbyn.Gwyn Isaac