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 377.

    Pity Miliband is so left wing and lower class. We need more middle and upper class in this ridulous government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    The TV debates smack of a presidency & encourage style over substance. We don't elect a leader, we elect a govt that can change it's leader when it likes. As for parliament being middle class, it's only keeping in line with the BBC; the CofE; lawyers; doctors; police; social workers, the civil service & the teaching profession. All of whom spout PC while dumping on the white working class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    Hey Ed, you may choose a candidate but WE choose the MP.

    Second, really want change? Then best thing parties can do is ban anyone who has not had a real job for a minimum of 10 years from standing. Then we may actually get some people with integrity and ability and some results.

    Yes, that means you, Cameron and your gangs will have to step down... if only.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    i dont think middle class mps are the problem . i think middle class civil servants are the real problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    No more Lawyers or professional politicians. We need people who have shown they're capable of running something - we're asking these people to run a country and most have never run a p*ss up in a brewery - and it shows! Lawyers are just professional arguers. They're no even any good even at that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Milliband missed a point. The public DO NOT want career politicians who have no clue what its to be a working person in the 'real' world. Clue: he should take a good look at himself

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    Who would want to lower themselves to be in any way associated with Parliament no matter what occupation they previously came from. Oliver Cromwell had the right idea about politicians and not one single thing has changed from his day to this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    When I worked in the Wonderful World of Disney, senior staff had to spend a few days dressed as a character in one of the parks so that they understood the customer experience. Maybe Ed and Co should dress as road sweepers for a few days...

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    Ed is the middle class son of an academic. The Tories had Heath, son of a carpenter, Thatcher, daughter of a small shop owner, Hague, son of a brewers delivery man, Major son of a circus performer and so on. All Labour leaders since Callaghan have been middle class. Typical Labour class war!

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Parliament is like a huge corrupting machine; whatever the social class of those going in, they all come out middle class. There are the bars, restaurants, health clinics, gym etc that pamper and coddle our so-called leaders to the extent that they attend PMQ for one hour a week and feel they have done a days' work. Radical structural overhaul is needed, but which party will ever propose it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    One change I think should be made is that the party affiliations of candidates should not be on the ballot paper. That way, people might actually have to read or listen to what candidates have to say before the election, rather than just turning up on the day with no idea who's running and voting for the candidate entirely based on their party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Some one in Labour needs to get hold of Ed tell him to stop pretending he is something he is not because it just annoys traditional labour backers & come out with some policies .

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Totally agree with EM on this. We need more MP's like the excellent Dan Jarvis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    What are we to do we have 3 parties that nobody wants none of them seem to understand what the people of this country want we just want opportunities for our kids we want a decent home and job its not complicated but they chose to give all the wealth in this country to the privileged few a wasted £50million on West Coast Main Line fiasco and nobody answers for it but we pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Doubtless Ed will do what the Labour party always does when they need more "diversity"---ship people in from abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    342.Some Lingering Fog
    Maybe if Labour didn't parachute people from the South of England to the North....they wouldn't have this problem.

    Of course, I forgot there are only working class people in the North!?!?

    'Northerners will vote for anything with a red rosette pinned to it'.

    And Southerners don't vote for just the blue rosette? Boris Johnson!

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    Just now
    Too middle class lol, too 'upper' class more like


    Listen to yourself, its exactly the reason why Miliband comes out with this sort of thing that leads people like you to state such nonsence. Miliband has no answers when it comes to policy, all he does is claim class warfare and get people like yourself to join his petty crusade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    "252.Rebecca Riot
    But ex-army officers sound very middle class if not upper class."

    So it's all about how people sound?

    Nice to see prejudice is alive and well!

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    @346 - Duncan
    You assume that soldiers are the ones who start the wars. It's the politicians who start them!

    Maybe having more people in parliament who have experienced the horrors of modern conflict will make our leaders less likely to pursue their neo-liberal, post-colonial vanity projects, but I doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Restrict MPs to 2 terms only on the London average wage + expenses.

    Require minimum residency within a constituency to be able to stand (prevents shipping in shoe-in candidates).

    Encourage/support secondments from key professions (medicine, science, law etc.).

    Weed out the self serving career politicians and the egotistical rich boys.


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