Oona King

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 11:06

Electoral Reform: A breed apart

The Commons has a disproportionate number of privately educated white men - not exactly representative

There are many strange things about sitting on the green benches of the House of Commons – from the men in tights wielding silver-buckled swords (Sergeant at arms), to the fishing-net of tiny microphones dangling above your head. But the thing I never got used to was more prosaic yet profound: that the politicians don’t look like the society that puts them there. For a start four out of every five MPs are men. Of that, there are only two black women and not a single Asian woman amongst them. And since each party usually gets a number of MPs out of proportion to the votes they receive, our polity fails a basic test: it fails, in reality, to be a representative democracy. The result, massively compounded by the expenses scandal, is that voters now feel MPs are a breed apart, with little sense of how modern Britain lives. For many of the MPs I worked with, this perception is unfair, but it is contributing to the erosion of democratic legitimacy.

Published in Electoral Reform
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