Almost a third (31%) of new candidates set to stand in May’s General Election with a reasonable chance of winning were privately educated, new Sutton Trust research published today reveals, while one in five went either to Oxford or Cambridge University.
The research brief, Parliamentary Privilege, shows that the proportion of privately educated candidates in winnable seats is only slightly less than that of the current parliament, where 33% went to private school.
Around half (49%) of the Conservative candidates were privately educated, as were 19% of Labour candidates, compared with just 7% of the school population. In the current parliament, 10% of Labour MPs are privately educated, along with 41% of Liberal Democrats and 52% of Conservatives. Where school information is available for UKIP candidates, 36% were privately educated.
More than half (55%) of the candidates attended Russell Group universities, including majorities of both Conservative and Labour candidates, with a fifth (19%) Oxbridge educated. However, the Russell Group figure falls to less than a third of UKIP candidates, with only one having been to Oxford or Cambridge.
The study also looks at the professional backgrounds of the candidates. 40% of the sample had political careers, including half of Labour candidates, with 14% of Labour candidates having previously worked for a trade union. 47 of the 260 candidates had careers as consultants, often in media relations, while 29 have worked as barristers or solicitors and 19 as journalists.
The study included candidates selected by mid-December 2014 who were replacing serving MPs for the same party or in target seats with a reasonable possibility of winning.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today: “This research shows that the next House of Commons is unlikely to reflect any more social diversity than the current crop of MPs. It underlines the importance of enabling bright young people from low and middle income backgrounds to get to the best schools and universities if they are to have a chance to play a part in making the decisions that affect all of our lives.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
TABLE 1: BREAKDOWN OF EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF KEY PROSPECTIVE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES
|Russell Group (including Oxbridge)||55%||56%||68%||29%||11%|
TABLE 2: BREAKDOWN OF EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS OF CURRENT MPS
SOURCE: Elitist Britain, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission 2014
|Russell Group (including Oxbridge)||54%||61%||48%||57%|