Parliament 'too middle class' says Miliband as he targets ex-military MPs

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley, in his days as an army officer The MP for Barnsley Central served in the Parachute Regiment for 15 years

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Ed Miliband has said he wants to recruit more prospective MPs who have served in the armed forces to help make Parliament "more diverse".

The Labour leader said he wanted more people like Dan Jarvis, the ex-army officer who entered Parliament in 2011.

Mr Miliband also said he hoped to appeal to business people to represent Labour at the next election.

"I think Parliament is too middle class and doesn't have that diversity it needs," he told the House magazine.

With the general election scheduled for 2015, the political parties are busy choosing their candidates across the country.

'All backgrounds'

Mr Miliband - who started his career as Labour Party adviser - said he wanted candidates from all backgrounds, not just professions such as law, accountancy and journalism.

"What you are going to see from us this year, as we select our candidates now the boundaries are settled, as we target those 100 or so seats for the general election, is a party reaching out to all parts of the country.

"But also a party that's going to get people from all backgrounds - business people - I want more people who are military and ex-military, like Dan Jarvis, in the party.

Start Quote

I just want to do the debates. I want the debate to happen wherever and whenever they can happen”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

"People from all class backgrounds because frankly I think Parliament is too middle class and doesn't have that diversity that it needs to have."

He also suggested David Cameron was sending out "mixed messages" about the prospect of the leaders of the main Westminster parties taking part in TV debates again as in 2010.

Mr Miliband said the debates were a "good innovation" he welcomed.

"I just want to do the debates. I want the debates to happen wherever and whenever they can happen.... I think I feel warmer about them than the prime minister clearly does... I don't think he should be ducking them."

Speaking last year, Mr Cameron said that, while he enjoyed the debates, he felt they "took all the life" out of the 2010 campaign.

He suggested the three main parties "could learn from last time" and stage the 2015 debates "in a slightly different way".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    You are out of touch with pay. The £64K earned by an MP is pitifully low when you consider the amount of work, separation, travel and general responsibility involved."

    Well, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of people willing to make those sacrifices for that remuneration. If the market determines the pay as the rich tell us it must, then it must be roughly about right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Parliament bares little or no resemblence to the Country at large & that is one of the major reasons that ordinary people are turned off from politics. It isn't however just about social class it is about gender, race, colour, creed, religion, sexuality. It is also about working experience and background. Most of them are millionaire career politicans who have never had a proper private sector job

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Why not just have the best people for the job

    instead of trying another social engineering project. What is the key difference between the private and public sector. The private sector chooses people on talent. The Public sector is more concerned with Race ,Gender and Sexual orientation and Class.

    The truth is if those things should not matter then they should not form any part of selection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    What we really need is people like me to stand up to them, we are the ones that understand what Fuel tax does to families, what rising food costs mean? to tell them we Need to stop all aid to countries that can buy the lastest weapons or have spcae programs and to tell them that privatisation of utilities/trains does nothing but made shareholders richer - the service does not improve!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    A "diverse" elite is not necessarily 'representative'

    Jarvis there: "not about to start World War Three for you"

    Should we all be 'militantly' pro-sense, anti-corruption'?

    Our next leader, someone who's 'seen the world', the way to preclude 'conflict of interest'?

    Hilary Clinton might be tempted to the rescue, for Labour and us?

    A start on 'fair-dealing' abroad, making 'common cause' at home?

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    63.Anarcho-libertarian - "........we need MPs who have worked outside of politics. Class is not important."

    Isn't it? This article is very pursuasive to the opposite view:

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I don't think it matters what social status an MP has, they are all in a class of their own anyway!

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    More meaningless drivel and soundbites. Ed - more people are becoming aware that Parliament is a cynical sideshow organised by dedicated elitists to convince the plebs of their 'democracy'. Reality check - it is a con, staffed by confidence tricksters, thieves and corporate yes men. Given the track record of the current shower, anyone seeking a political career is to be viewed with much suspicion

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    What about the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Regardless of social background or class, Mr Milliband should be appealing for MPs that posses common sense. This trait seems to be lacking in most of our political parties and parliament in general.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Parliaments too middle class, lets bring in some oiks from the army.

    Insulting? Patronising? Or just the modern day Labour Party?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    55. Brangy
    "Union leaders"
    Didn't know that was a real job.
    Plus I won't put 'Business' in there either, I'm sure DC owns a pretty big investment firm that belonged to his dad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Nothing to do with "class" but the person and their experiences.

    Perhaps you should be at least 40 before you are allowed to enter parliament.

    If we had an elected 2nd chamber, that could be open to all ages, but restrict the commons to those who have a life behind them.

    But that would mean getting around those anti-democracy MPs who think us voting for people is far to inconvenient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Should be a ban on career politicians, who don't know what life in the real world is like.

    Minimum age 40, and an end to media persecution. If an MP smokes, drinks, has in the past had an affair (ie is human) who cares? People who have experienced life is what we need, not these whiter than white weirdos who have no idea about anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Another ploy by Miliband to whip up class war.

    As has already been said on this thread, we need MPs who have worked outside of politics. Class is not important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    All we need to do is ban anyone from being an MP who went to public school or did PPE at Oxford. Then we might get MPs that could think beyond their own bank balances.


    NO muadib2, there is nothing wrong with coming from a public school, there is nothing wrong with being lower class, are you really implying that the lower class shouldn't get into politics? OUTRAGEOUS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Said the man who is worth about £7m. I bet he wouldn't give up his seat for an ex-serviceman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Great idea to try and ensure people with experience outside of politics are inspired to become involved - Miliband is the classic example of the opposite!
    Frankly dont care if Parliament is middle class dominated - it is about the individuals and their experience, not their accent or skin colour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I would thought more of this if he had selected someone from the lower ranks. Officers are just as middle class as any of the current MP's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Technically speaking the "middle class" is the largest "class" in the UK and therefore "middle class" MPs are the most representative MPs of the UK population. If Miliband wants to improve Parliament then how about encouraging more people from professions to run those departments (eg a Teacher ad Education secretary, a Doctor as Health Secretary etc)


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