Do we need a “Real Job” rule for politicians?

New Zealand Labour have another group in their caucus that are a true minority, people with real world experience.

There are union hacks, student politicians, political staffers, and all sorts of other troughers, but not many with real world experience.

Labour in?the?UK have the same issue and it starts right at the top.

James Kirkup at The Telegraph explains:

Ed Miliband has hit a spot of turbulence over his experience of the real world.

In a Sky News question-and-answer session with young voters, the Labour leader was asked about his “life experience” outside politics. What qualifies him to represent the people of Britain?

His answer: ?I?ve done a number of things which I think, I hope, are relevant to this. I was obviously an economic adviser in the Treasury and I think that?s important. I think that?s important because the economy and how we change our economy is at the heart of the country.

?I?ve taught. I taught at Harvard University. I actually taught around government and economics and I think that, actually, one of the things that that did for me ? [was the ability] to listen and engage with people about what their issues are, what they?re interested in.?

Whether being a Treasury special adviser or a Harvard lecturer constitutes real life experience is something for readers to judge for themselves.

He ‘thinks’ those qualify him…oh my is he out of touch.

As someone whose entire career has been spent in and around the media and politics, I’m probably not best-placed to say.

But I am confident in saying that a lot of people feel that one of the big problems with contemporary politics is the?dominance of professional politicians.

It’s a point that people like Nigel Farage, a former City insurance broker, never fail to make, claiming that we are increasingly governed by an out-of-touch elite with no experience of real work.

With that in mind, it’s worth a quick look at the figures, as kept by the House of Commons Library:

chart (2)

As you’ll see, the real growth has been in professional politicians, people who come to the Commons from a job elsewhere in politics. Some 21 of the MPs elected in 1979 were previously employed in politics, 3.4 per cent of the total. By 2010, there were 90 career professionals on the green benches, 15 per cent of the House.

Meanwhile, the proportion of MPs who used to be manual workers fell from 16 per cent to 4 per cent, perhaps not surprising given changes in the labour market. But the number of professionals (lawyers, doctors, teachers) is also in slow decline, and the number of business people entering politics is more or less stable. The story of MPs’ backgrounds is the rise of the career politician.

I’ll bet a dollar to a knob of goat poo that the exact same thing is happening in New Zealand.

I’m sure David Farrar or some other political tragic with a bent for stats might be able to sort out the real stats for New Zealand.

Perhaps we need a “real job” rule for aspiring politicians?


– The Telegraph