Greville Janner and Margaret Moran – trial of facts more likely for expenses fiddling than child abuse?

In 2012, the former Labour MP for Luton South Margaret Moran faced 21 charges of false accounting and forgery of parliamentary expenses involving sums of over £60 000. However, following a psychiatrist’s report, Moran was found to be suffering from a depressive illness, with extreme anxiety and agitation, and as such was unfit to stand trial. Nonetheless, a trial went ahead in her absence (a so-called ‘trial of the facts’) and it was found that she did indeed falsely claim more than £53 000. Moran received a two-year order placing her under the supervision of a council mental health social worker, as well as being treated for the improvement of her medical condition. At the time, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was Keir Starmer, now the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras after being elected in May 2015.

Fast-forward to two-and-a-half years after the trial of the facts for Moran, and as is now well-known, the new DPP, Alison Saunders made the decision not to charge Labour peer Lord Janner, formerly Greville Janner, MP for Leicester West from 1970 to 1997, with 22 offences involving the sexual abuse of children, between 1969 and 1988, on the grounds of his suffering from dementia. Even the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, argued that Janner should face a ‘trial of the facts’, but Saunders dismissed this on the grounds that Janner was no longer an ongoing risk to the public (not something which Janner himself would have viewed as an obstacle to prosecuting Nazi war criminals with dementia, as witnessed by his statements here and here). Starmer defended his successor Saunders’ decision, saying that ‘we should inhibit our comments on the case’.

There have been major questions asked about the reliability of the diagnosis of dementia against Janner, in light of clear evidence of much significant activity at the House of Lords and elsewhere following the initial diagnosis (see for example this report – as Gojam has pointed out on The Needle Blog, there is a great irony in Janner being deemed too ill to face justice but well enough to legislate). But even if one accepts that Janner is not fit to appear in court, do the seriousness of the charges (not to mention the suggestion that Janner may have been part of a wider network, together with the former Speaker of the House of Commons George Thomas aka Lord Tonypandy) not make the case for a trial of the facts imperative? Janner may not be an ongoing risk to the public, but neither was Moran, who was no longer an MP at the time she faced charges.

I do not want to make light of the issue of MPs fiddling parliamentary expenses, though do think that as financial scandals go, this was quite small in terms of the sums involved, especially relative to government spending. Furthermore, I do not share public cynicism about the very profession of being a Member of Parliament, and think our MPs should be paid more, commensurate with the salaries they might receive in the private sector, and hopefully then few would want to fiddle expenses.

The spectacle of a clearly distraught and destroyed (and visibly aged) Moran, following the court ruling, was something I found upsetting at the time. This has nothing to do with her gender; the vilification and imprisonment of Denis McShane was no less pretty, nor was the SNP-driven hate campaign against the vulnerable Charles Kennedy, likely playing a part in his early death.

But I believe there are current and former MPs against whom far more serious charges exist. The fact that parliamentary expenses has been viewed as a more serious matter than the abuse of vulnerable children says a good deal about the distorted moral compass that exists in the circles of power.

Reports today in the Guardian, Independent, Times and Mail all suggest that Saunders decision could be overturned, as she herself intimated in an interview earlier this week. This is following a review by an independent QC, though @ExaroNews have tweeted today ‘Crisis at CPS: tonight CPS denies story in Daily Mail that DPP decision on Janner is to be reversed. Mail prob right then.’

The case for a trial of the facts against Janner is unanswerable. Anything less will smack of a high-level establishment cover-up. It is vital that in this case the truth is established whilst the alleged perpetrator is still alive. This is far more serious than any expenses scandals.


The stock government reply to queries about a national inquiry into organised child abuse

Since starting the letter/e-mail/Twitter campaign to ask MPs to join the original seven calling for a national inquiry into organised child abuse there have been already a number of replies. At the time of writing, 97 [update: now 135] MPs are supporting the call whilst various others have either not been prepared to back, have given a so-far non-committal reply, or have indicated whilst they are not opposed in principle to a national inquiry, they wish to wait until current police investigations are complete before committing, or alternatively want the nature of such an inquiry to be more precisely defined before supporting it.

But I would like to draw people’s attention to a series of responses, which make clear how a standard reply has been drawn up either by the government or the Conservative Party, as a ‘line to take’, especially following the question asked at Prime Minister’s Questions this week. All of these replies are from Conservative politicians. Please do send me (ian@ianpace.com ) copies of any other replies of this or a similar nature. I am keeping tabs of MPs who decline to support, as well as those who do support. I would also recommend people compare the replies below in their wording with some of these very similar responses from 2013.


Mike Freer (Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green): ‘Thank you for contacting me about historic allegations of child abuse.

I appreciate your concern about this issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action.

I join the Government in urging anyone with concerns or information to report them to the police. I am glad that the Government has made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is important that these authorities act on the information provided to them.’

+ (second communication) ‘There is a longstanding practice that overarching inquiries are not undertaken whilst existing inquiries – which may result in criminal prosecutions. This has been respected so as not to jeopardise any prosecutions. The most important thing for any victim is surely to see perpetrators prosecuted.’


Gordon Henderson
(Conservative, Sittingbourne and Sheppey) said [according to a constituent] that he appreciated my concern about the issue.that it was an abhorrent crime. That he was confident the government is committed to tackling it and was not aware of any cover up by the current government. He said: “Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the minister for policing and criminal justice Damian Green is leading a national group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people. There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action. I join the government in urging anyone with concerns or information to report them to the police. I am glad that the government has made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission . It is important that these authorities act on the information provided to them.”


Gareth Johnson
(Conservative, Dartford, PPS, Home Office): ‘I appreciate your concern about this issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquires taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action.’


Andrew Lansley
(Conservative, South Cambridgeshire, Leader of the House of Commons): ‘I do appreciate your concern about this important issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. I can assure you that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. That is why the Prime Minister has asked Damian Green, Home Office Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, to lead Ministers across Government and a new national group to address urgently the missed opportunities to protect vulnerable children.

The Sexual Violence Against Children and Vulnerable People national group is a panel of experts brought together by the Home Office to co-ordinate and implement the lessons from recent inquiries into historic sexual abuse and current sexual violence prevention issues. It will work to improve cross Government delivery, identify problems and solutions and act swiftly to resolve them.’


Patrick McLoughlin
(Conservative, Derbyshire Dales): ‘Thank you for contacting me about historic allegations of child abuse.

I appreciate your concern about this issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action.

I am glad that the Government has made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is important that these authorities act on the information provided to them.’


Anne Main
(Conservative, St Albans): ‘Thank you for contacting me about historic allegations of child abuse.

I appreciate your concern about this issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action.

I join the Government in urging anyone with concerns or information to report them to the police. I am glad that the Government has made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is important that these authorities act on the information provided to them’.


Andrew Mitchell
(Conservative, Sutton Coldfield): ‘I appreciate your concern in this matter. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime no matter when or where it occurs. I can assure you that the Government is committed to tackling it in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, Social Services, the Police, the criminal justice system and others. That is why the Prime Minister has asked Damian Green, Home Office Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, to lead Ministers across Government and a new national group to address urgently the missed opportunities to protect vulnerable children.

The Sexual Violence Against Children and Vulnerable People national group is a panel of experts brought together by the Home Office to co-ordinate and implement the learning from recent inquiries into historic sexual abuse and current sexual violence prevention issues. It will work to improve cross Government delivery, identify problems and solutions and act swiftly to resolve them.

On historic allegations the Government urges anyone with concerns or information to report them to the Police. if they have concerns about the Police they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Government expects those authorities to act on the information provided to them’.


Robert Neill
(Conservative, Bromley & Chislehurst): ‘Thank you for contacting me about the calls for a national inquiry into child sex abuse.

It is needless to say that child abuse, in any form, is an abhorrent crime. Clearly, and without doubt, trusted institutions – including children’s homes, schools and the Church – have failed to protect some of the most vulnerable young people that have been put into their care, and I believe these abuses must be uncovered in their entirety and without delay.

It is also absolutely crucial that we learn from the mistakes of the past to ensure every effort can, and is made to prevent similar crimes like this reoccurring in the future. That is why the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, is currently leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable adults. The lessons that emerge from this must, I feel, dictate future policy and go some way in shaping current campaigns, whether it be the push to end female genital mutilation or the new announcements to protect children’s emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Whilst I appreciate the issue your raise, and have, of course, taken due note of your concerns, I do not feel this proposed national inquiry stands as the best course for justice at the present time. As you are no doubt aware, there are a number of separate inquiries already taking place into accusations of historic child sex abuse, some of which involve criminal investigations, and I believe it is absolutely right we allow these to run their proper course before taking further action. To interweave these with a wider, more general inquiry, like the one suggested, would, I feel, be completely counterproductive. Anyone who has concerns regarding malpractice or has evidence that the current investigations are not being conducted sufficiently should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact me on this incredibly important issue. i hope my response reassures that you [sic] the Government is approaching all child sex abuse cases very seriously and is taking a proactive stance on the matter. Whilst I would not rule out an inquiry of this nature taking place in the future, I do not feel that the investigation a number of my colleagues are supporting is, at this time, appropriate. If you wish to discuss the matter in any further detail, of course, please do not hesitate to get in touch.’


Mark Prisk
(Conservative, Hertford and Stortford, Minister of State for Housing and Local Government): ‘It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes. Damian Green is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people’.


Grant Schapps
(Conservative, Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative Party Chairman): (sent on Schapps’ behalf by his office) ‘Grant appreciates your concern about this issue. Child abuse is an abhorrent crime, no matter when, or where, it occurs. It is important that the Government is committed to tackling it, in whatever form it takes.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is important that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action.

Grant joins the Government in urging anyone with concerns or information to report them to the police. Grant is glad that the Government has made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is important that these authorities act on the information provided to them’.


Alok Sharma
(Conservative, Reading West): ‘There are a number of inquiries taking place into child abuse cases, including criminal investigations. It is important we allow these to run their course before taking further action’.


Theresa Villiers
(Conservative, Chipping Barnet): ‘Thank you for contacting me about historic allegations of child abuse.

I fully understand your concern about this issue. I find it truly shocking that so many horrific child abuse cases keep coming to light.

Both the historical cases of child abuse and recent cases of organised sexual exploitation raise a number of important issues for the Government, social services, the police, the criminal justice system and others. It is vital that we learn lessons from these reviews of historic child abuse cases. That is why the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green, is leading a National Group which will work across government to urgently address any missed opportunities to protect children and vulnerable people.

There are a number of inquiries taking place into historic child sex abuse cases, including criminal investigations. We need to allow these to run their course before taking further action.

I would urge anyone with information to report it to the police. The Government has also made clear that if anyone has concerns about police handling of such complaints, they should report them to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I am confident that these authorities will act on the information provided to them’.


The original seven MPs made very clear that one of the purposes of such an inquiry was to address a series of failures on the part of police and other authorities. Simply arguing that it suffices to leave things in these authorities’ hands will not do. This reply amounts to a ‘we are just going to let things continue as they are at the moment, and not do anything different, but are sending you this stock reply in an attempt to buy time before a general election’. I would urge people not to let this sort of response be forgotten come that election.


Please contact your MP to ask for their support for a national inquiry into organised child abuse

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Article from Telegraph – Simon Danczuk on child sex allegations involving senior Westminster figures

The following article does not seem to be available online to read – I believe it is very significant, so am posting it here.

The Daily Telegraph (London)

May 5, 2014 Monday
Edition 1;
National Edition

Government urged to reassure public about child sex claims

BYLINE: Peter Dominiczak

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 4

LENGTH: 230 words

MINISTERS must “reassure the public” about a series of child sex investigations involving Westminster politicians, the Labour MP who exposed Cyril Smith’s behaviour said yesterday.

Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, last month published a book on Smith which reignited the scandal over the former Liberal MP, who used his power and influence to abuse hundreds of boys for more than four decades.

However, Mr Danczuk has also disclosed details of allegations about two other senior Westminster figures who have been accused of historic abuse.

Mr Danczuk said that he has now been contacted by police officers about a case involving a senior Labour politician and said that officers are taking the allegations “extremely seriously”.

He has also disclosed that during the course of his investigation into Smith, who died in 2010, he interviewed a man who was sexually abused by the MP at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, London, when he was 16. The man gave him the name of another parliamentarian who had visited the guesthouse, describing him as a “much bigger fish” and significantly “higher up the food chain”. Mr Danczuk yesterday said that with so many investigations under way, the Government needs to make a public statement about the allegations.

“We need them to reassure the public that the police are getting adequate resources to carry out these investigations,” he said.


MPs in terms of gender, ethnicity and state/private education – some figures and reflections

This week, at Prime Minister’s Question Time, Labour leader Ed Miliband tore into David Cameron for the representation of women in his party, pointing to the all-male frontbench in front of him, in contrast to his own. Miliband did not care to mention the ethnic make-up of that front bench, perhaps because of fear of alienating xenophobic Middle England from which he needs to gain votes, or perhaps because his own wholly white front bench on display that day would score no better. At present, the cabinet consists of 22 members, of whom 18 are male and 4 female. Not one member belongs to an ethnic minority. The shadow cabinet contains 25 members, of whom 14 are male and 11 female, with 2 members from ethnic minorities. What is not visible, but no less important, is the representation of different educational backgrounds amongst both cabinets. Of the cabinet, 12 were educated in the state sector, 10 privately; of the shadow cabinet, 19 were state-educated, 5 privately; for one member it is unclear. The difference in the break-up of either cabinet in terms of educational background is as stark as that for gender and ethnicity. With this in mind, I decided to assemble some wider statistics concerning the MPs in the three major parliamentary parties, not least to draw attention to the least commented-upon form of discrimination and favouritism, to do with the vast over-privileging, above all in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, of those who were privately educated. This is a subject frequently evaded by many leading politicians in any of the parties; the New Statesman have recently referred to ‘education’s Berlin Wall’, a term even taken up by Education Secretary Michael Gove, though as an NS leader pointed out, the privately educated Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt declined to comment on the subject.


UK Population by Gender and Region

According to the 2011 census, as provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the population of the UK was 63,182,000 million people, made up of 31,028,000 million men and 32,154,000 million women. In percentage terms this means 49.1% men, 50.9% women. Between the four regions, this breaks down as follows:

England: 53,012,456 – 26,069,148 (49.2%) men; 26,943,308 (50.8%) women.
Scotland: 5,295,000 – 2,567,000 (48.5%) men; 2,728,000 (51.5%) women.
Wales: 3,063,456 – 1,504,228 (49.1%) men; 1,559,228 (50.9%) women.
Northern Ireland: 1,810,863 – 887,323 (49%) men; 923,540 (51%) women.

Total Population of mainland (England, Scotland and Wales): 61,370,912 – 30,140,376 (49.1%) men; 31,230,536 (50.9%) women.

Total Population of UK: 63,182,000 – 31,028,000 (49.1%) men; 32,154,000 (50.9%) women.

Percentages of UK population represented by region:
England: 83.9%
Scotland: 8.4%
Wales: 4.8%
(Mainland: 97.1%)
Northern Ireland: 2.9%.

The gender discrepancy can mostly be explained by different life expectancies, certainly amongst the existing population who are now aged over 50, as the differences in numbers become more pronounced and regular in the upper age bracket. As can be seen, the overall discrepancy is relatively consistent amongst the regions, except for Scotland, where it is around 3% (compared to 1.6-2% elsewhere, smallest in England).


UK Population by Ethnicity and Region

The ethnic break-up of the United Kingdom as a whole can be compiled from individual results for each region. In England and Wales, according to the 2011 report by the ONS, 86.0% of the population are classified as White (divided into ‘White British’ and ‘Any Other White’, with populations of 80.5% and 4.4% respectively). After this, the next largest groups are Indian (2.5%), Pakistani (2.0%) and Black African (1.8%). Overall, Asian and Asian British groups account for 7.5%, whilst Black African, Caribbean, Black British and others account for 3.3%. 14% of the English and Welsh population can be considered as belonging to non-white ethnic minorities. Wales itself is the least ethnically diverse region (closely followed by South West England), with 95.6% white population, 4.4% ethnic minorities. Using the population figures above (England 53,012,456; Wales 3,063,456; England and Wales 56,075,912), this amounts to numbers of approximately 2,928,663 white, 134,793 ethnic minorities in Wales. In England and Wales combined the figures will be 48,225,284 white; 7,850,628 ethnic minorities. Thus in England alone the figures are 45,296,621 (85.4%) white; 7,715,835 (14.6%) ethnic minorities.

The 2011 census results for Scotland show that 96% of the population are classified as White. Of the remaining 4% (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Other Asian, African, Caribbean, Black British, Arab, and Other), the largest ethnic minority is Pakistani (1%). Asians make up around 3% of the population, and Black African, Caribbean and other around 1%. Thus from a total population of 5,295,000, approximately 5,038,200 are white, 275,000 ethnic minorities.

The representation of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland is much smaller than in the rest of the UK, with 98.2% of Northern Ireland residents classified as White. From the remaining 1.8% split (in descending order of prominence between Chinese, Irish Traveller, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Other Asian, Black Caribbean, Black African, Black other, Mixed and Other). The largest ethnic minority in Northern Ireland, Chinese, accounts for just 0.35% of the population. Thus from a total population of 1,810,863, approximately 1,778,267 are white, 32,596 ethnic minorities.

If these figures are weighted relative to the population of each region, the following figures are obtained:

England: White 85.4%; Ethnic Minorities 14.6%.
Wales: White 95.6%; Ethnic Minorities 4.4%.
Scotland: White 96%; Ethnic Minorities 4%.
Northern Ireland: White 98.2%; Ethnic Minorities 1.8%.

From this, figures can be calculated for the mainland (population 61,370,912) and the UK as a whole (population 63,182,000). The population of the mainland, from the figures above, is approximately 53,263,484 white; 8,125,628 ethnic minorities. For the UK as a whole, the figures are approximately 55,041,751 white; 8,158,224 ethnic minorities. In percentage terms, this amounts to:

Mainland (England, Scotland and Wales): White 86.8%; Ethnic Minorities 13.2%.
UK: White 87.1%; Ethnic Minorities 12.9%.


UK Population by Education

Historical statistics for state or private education in England and Wales can be found in a 2012 report by Paul Bolton. They show a proportion of pupils educated at independent and direct grant schools falling from 8.1% to 5.7% between 1963 and 1978, then rising again, peaking around 1990 at around 7.4%, then falling slightly to around 6.5% in the years approaching 2000, then rising slightly again over the next decade, with a small fall from around 2010. The following figures are provided for percentages of pupils at independent schools at five yearly intervals from 1950 (from 1963 they apply to England alone):

1950: 4.6%
1955: 4.7%
1960: 5.3%
1965: 7.5%
1970: 6.5%
1975: 5.9%
1980: 5.9%
1985: 6.5%
1990: 7.4%
1995: 6.8%
2000: 6.7%
2005: 7.0%
2010: 7.1%
2011: 7.1%
2012: 7.0%

For those aged roughly between 25 and 70 in 2010, who thus were educated from age 7-18 between 1947 and 2003, I will take an average percentage from the figures from 1950 and 2005, which works out at around 6.2% of those in such an age range who were privately educated. For Wales the figure in 2011 was 1.9% and for Scotland in 2013 , 4.5%. Applying a weighting to these figures in line with that for the average over this period compared to the present number in England (thus 6.2/7) gives the following figures

For those aged between 25 and 70 in 2010:
England: 6.2% privately educated
Wales: 1.7% privately educated
Scotland: 4.0% privately educated

These three sets of figures can then be weighted according to the population of each mainland region (England 83.9%, Scotland: 8.4%, Wales: 4.8%), thus calculating (6.2*83.9/100) + (1.7*4.8/100) + (4*8.4/100) = 5.6% of the mainland UK population born aged between 25 and 70 in 2010 who were privately educated, and thus also 94.4% who were state educated.


Figures for MPs

The House of Commons website with data on elected MPs (see here and other pages linked to at this site), and the study of MPs compiled by the Smith Institute following the 2010 UK general election serve as the basis for most of my calculations. A few seats have changed hand following by-elections, but as these types of changes have generally been atypical of changes at general elections, I will use the figures from immediately after the election for my calculations. The following are the figures for those elected by party, with the brackets after the numbers giving the number of re-elected MPs, followed by the number of those newly elected.

Conservatives: 306 (166 + 140)
Labour: 258 (190 + 68)
Liberal Democrats: 57 (46 + 11)
Others: 28 (20 + 8) [Independent MPs: 1; Green: 1; Scottish National Party: 6; Plaid Cymru: 3; Democratic Unionist: 8; Sinn Fein: 5; Social Democratic & Labour Party: 3; Alliance: 1]
Speaker: 1
Total number of MPs: 650
Total number of MPs in three main parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats): 621

I will concentrate solely on the three major parties, as the numbers of MPs represented by any of the others are generally too small to be able to discern meaningful trends. There are three measures of the representativeness of the MPs in each of these three parties which I will apply – in terms of gender, ethnicity (belonging or not belonging to an ethnic minority), and state/private education. The results are revealing.


MPs: Representation of Gender

Number of male/female MPs by party after 2010 UK General Election:

Conservatives: Male 257 (84.0%); Female 49 (16.0%).
Labour: Male 177 (68.7%); Female 81 (31.3%).
Liberal Democrats: Male 50 (87.7%); Female 7 (12.3%).
All three main parties: Male 484 (76.7%); Female 137 (23.3%).

These can be expressed relative to the numbers in the mainland UK as a whole (49.1% men, 50.9% women) by taking the taking the ratio of the representation in each party to that in the nation, converted into a percentage. So, for example, the ratio of male Liberal Democrat MPs (87.7%) compared to the percentage of the male mainland UK population (49.1%), expressed as a percentage, is 87.7/49.1*100 = 178.6% over-representation.

The figures for representation are thus as follows:

Conservatives: Male MPs 171.1% over-representation: Female MPs 31.4% under-representation.
Labour: Male MPs 139.9% over-representation: Female MPs 61.5% under-representation
Liberal Democrats: Male MPs 178.6% over-representation: Female MPs 24.2% under-representation:
All three main parties: Male MPs 156.2% over-representation: Female MPs 45.8% under-representation.


MPs: Representation of Ethnicity

Number of white/ethnic minority MPs by party after 2010 UK General Election:

Conservatives: White 295 (96.4%); Ethnic Minority 11 (3.6%)
Labour: White 242 (93.8%); Ethnic Minority 16 (6.2%).
Liberal Democrats: White 57 (100%); Ethnic Minority 0 (0%).
All three main parties: White 594 (94.1%); Ethnic Minority 27 (4.3%).

(It is worth noting here that the Liberal Democrats have only once ever had an ethnic minority MP, Parmjit Singh Gill, who only held the seat of Leicester South for less than one year after winning a by-election in July 2004, to be defeated in May 2005 – see http://www.theguardian.com/politics/person/6766/parmjit-singh-gill )

Using the same principle of measurement as for gender, representation can be calculated as follows, on the basis of percentages of 86.8% white, 13.2% ethnic minority for mainland UK:

Conservatives: Whites 111.1% over-representation; Ethnic Minorities 27.3% under-representation.
Labour: Whites 108.1% over-representation; Ethnic Minorities 47.0% under-representation.
Liberal Democrats: Whites 115.2% over-representation; Ethnic Minorities completely unrepresented.
All three main parties: Whites 108.4% over-representation; Ethnic Minorities 32.6% under-representation.


MPs: Representation of Educational Background

These calculations are a little more complicated than the previous two, because of the need to produce averages of those in the wider population who were educated in the state or private sector over a period of time (because of the varying ages of MPs). The Smith Institute gives the following figures for state and private (fee-paying) education of MPs elected or re-elected in 2010:

Labour: State 88%; Private 12%
Conservatives: State 46%; Private 54%
Liberal Democrats: State 59%; Private 41%
All MPs: State 66%; Private 34%

This can then be expressed as ratios relative to the figures for the population aged between 25 and 70 as given above. On the date of the 2010 General Election (May 6th), there were 15 MPs elected who were aged 70 or over – 13 Labour (Gerald Kaufman, Dennis Skinner, Stuart Bell, Joe Benton, David Winnick, Austin Mitchell, Paul Philip Flynn, Glenda Jackson, Ann Clwyd, David Allen Keen, Geoffrey Robinson, Michael Meacher and Frank Dobson) and 2 Conservatives (Peter Tapsell and Alan Haselhurst). The two Conservative MPs were both privately educated; of the 11 Labour MPs whose schools are known, 9 were educated in the state system, 2 at independent schools; the Labour figures roughly tally with the averages for the party, whilst the Conservative sample is too small to be significant. The youngest MP elected in 2010 was Pamela Nash, who was aged 25 at the time, so there were no MPs aged under 25.

The representation of state and privately educated persons in parliament can thus be easily calculated in the same manner as above, by taking a ratio of the percentage represented in parliament to the percentage in the nation as a whole, always using figures for those aged between 25 and 70 in 2010 (state educated 94.4%; privately educated 5.6%). Figures here are used just for the mainland, as no Northern Ireland MPs are not part of the sample.

The figures for each party then are:

Labour: State educated 93.2% under-representation; Privately educated 214.3% over-representation
Conservatives: State educated 48.7% under-representation: Privately educated 964.3% over-representation
Liberal Democrats: State educated 62.5% under-representation: Privately educated 732.1% over-representation.
All three main parties: State educated 70% under-representation: Privately educated 607.1% over-representation


Conclusion

In the three main parliamentary parties, by far the most over-represented group is the privately educated – 607.1% of their representation in the population as a whole. This is followed by male MPs, 156.2% of their representation in the population as a whole, and white MPs, 108.4%. If one looks however at under-representation, then ethnic minorities fair worst in terms of numbers of MPs, at just 32.6% of their representation in the population as a whole. This is followed by female MPs, at 45.8%, and then the state educated, at 70%. In all of these three measures, whether considering over- or under-representation, the Labour Party come out best, with the smallest under-representation of female, ethnic minority and state-educated MPs; the Liberal Democrats are worst in terms of under-representation of female and especially ethnic minority MPs; whilst the Conservative Party are worst in terms of massively disproportionate numbers of the privately educated, over-represented to a huge 964.3%, the worst of any type of over-representation.

Of the 49 Conservative women MPs, I was able to establish the education of 42: of these, one was home-schooled and another had a military education; of the remainder 17 were privately-educated, 23 state-educated, so the privately-educated are less disproportionately represented amongst female than male Conservatives (though still very much over-represented with a figure of around 42.5% privately educated (I will calculate similar figures for female Labour MPs at a later date, when time permits). Only 2 out of 49 (4.1%) female Conservative MPs belong to ethnic minorities (though this is still larger than the representation of ethnic minorities in the whole parliamentary party), however; for Labour the figure is 7 out of 81 (8.6%) (again larger).

There are wider questions to address and more detailed breakdowns of figures to consider (for example, the relationship between representation of ethnic minority MPs and constituencies with larger minority populations, not least in London and other major urban centres). But it is clear that more work is needed on all three fronts of Parliament is to be reasonably representative of the nation as a whole. Labour have gone the furthest to increasing the number of female and ethnic minority MPs, but both categories remain underrepresented; there have been some real moves by the Conservatives to do the same in recent times, which should not be ignored, but there is still a long way to go; as for the Liberal Democrats, their record on both is abysmal. But I have yet to hear of an initiative to redress the balance of state versus privately educated MPs (least of a problem for Labour, though even they should not be complacent); until the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats address this, Gove’s appropriation of the ‘Berlin Wall’ term is hollow and the both parties’ claims to representativeness are wafer-thin. It should be pointed out that it would be possible to have cabinets and shadow cabinets which contained roughly equal numbers of men and women, with members from ethnic minorities commensurate with their representation in the UK population; but if large percentages of these people remain privately educated, then they are still drawn predominantly from a mere 5.6% of the population, and claims to equality are meaningless.

I am not a professional statistician, and do not rule out the possibility that in the above there may have been some miscalculations, or that some of my methodologies might be open to question. I welcome any corrections in these respects; if I feel these to be appropriate, I will happily modify figures and if necessary conclusions as well.