Peter Oborne has done well in identifying so powerfully a new political class whose malignant grip on our political institutions is corrosive of democracy. Politics is not a career. Politics is not a profession. Politics is something each one of us engages in as part of our everyday living, as normal as eating or breathing. And standing for election to occupy a democratic position is something that should come after having gained valuable experience in some other walk of life, not after having been a students' union Ents officer and spending a couple of years as an MP's researcher.
The graph below, published by the Parliamentary authorities, shows the worrying rise in MPs with no background other than 'politician or political organiser' up to the 2001 elections:
You will see that in 2001 the number of these had risen to 66. In the 2005 elections this rose yet again, off the scale, with 87 MPs having done nothing worthwhile in their lives but playing politics before entering the house.
The real debate is not about MPs with business experience (of whom at the 2005 elections Labour had 25 and the Conservatives 75) but about MPs with no experience of anything at all.
Against 87 know-nothing MPs we now have just 118 MPs with business experience, and the 2009 / 2010 elections could see them being overtaken. In 1987 we had 161 MPs experienced in business.
It is not surprising that 11 MPs have been miners. What is slightly surprising is that one of them is a Conservative (which one?). Nor is it surprising that Labour has 54 MPs who were school teachers or worked in local government or the civil service as against 12 Conservatives with such backgrounds. And less (fewer?) than 12% of MPs were barristers or solicitors before entering the house, which upsets a few popular stereotypes.
The HOC's 2005 analysis of MPs (from which the above stats came) makes useful reading. But more useful is our awareness of the relentless rise of a malignant metropolitan political class. And for this we must be grateful to Oborne.