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Labour Shortlists

Labour MP Denis MacShane has suggested in an interview with the BBC that 10% of Labour parliamentary shortlists should be restricted to members on or below the minimum wage.  Mr MacShane, an Oxford university graduate who worked as a journalist before becoming MP for Rotherham in 1994, said there needed to be fewer candidates with his kind of background in the futureThe problem for Labour, he argued, was that the industrial working class, which had traditionally supplied many of the party's candidates through the trade union movement, had all but disappeared.


And there was now a large swathe of low paid workers who were not properly represented in Parliament.


There had been a similar narrowing of social background on the Conservative benches, he added.


"There would be a very good case for all parties to give 10% of their seats to people on the minimum wage," said the former Europe minister.


Such a policy would lead to more MPs from ethnic backgrounds, single mothers and other under-represented groups, argued the Labour MP, but he added: "Special attention should be paid to the lack of people who come from a working class background."


And minimum wage shortlists would be a relatively straightforward way to achieve greater representation for working class people, given the difficulty of defining what the term "working class" meant.


He said there had been "huge resistance" to all-women shortlists within the Labour Party when they were introduced by Tony Blair in the 1990s but they had succeeded in boosting the number of female MPs and had been "copied by the Conservatives with their A-list".

Do you agree?  What other measures could Labour take to ensure that its parliamentary representation is more representative of its supporters?   Let us know by using the “let us have your comments” link on the left of the screen.

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