MPs have long been perceived as middle class, middle aged, male and white and most Members of Parliaments elected between 1951 and 2001 conformed to this pattern, though subject to three significant provisos. First, the term ‘middle class’ is an arbitrary expression extending from high status professionals to public sector teachers and local government officials and from privately-schooled ‘Oxbridge’ graduates to the state-educated products of post-war universities and polytechnics. A second proviso concerns the greater diversity of Labour MPs reflected in a significant, if latterly declining, minority drawn from the ranks of manual workers. Thirdly, by the end of the century, another significant minority of Labour MPs was female.
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