Public wants fewer lawyers as MPs, more doctors and scientists

William JordanUS Elections Editor
July 24, 2014, 11:58 AM GMT+0

British people want fewer lawyers and more doctors, scientists and factory workers in Parliament

Voters have a long history of sending men and women of certain occupations to Parliament more than others. Going back to 1979, Nuffield election studies show no less than one in ten MPs from the three main parties have been barristers or solicitors, and the percentage of MPs that had been publishers or journalists has never fallen below 6%. Over the same period, the percentage of MPs who had occupations as manual workers – such as miners – has decreased steadily from 15.8% 35 years ago to just 4% today.

A new YouGov survey suggests voters would prefer if that trend were reversed. 57% want more factory workers elected to Parliament; 61% want more doctors (who made up only 1.4% of main-party MPs as of 2010) and 57% want more scientists.

Majorities also want more economists (54%) and teachers (52%). By contrast, a minority want more police officers (46%), social workers (44%) and military officers (41%) elected to Parliament. The public actually tend to prefer if there were fewer lawyers (46% fewer to 24% more) and reporters (48% fewer to 18% more) filling Westminster, making those the least popular occupations on the list.

Voters of different political stripes do especially like certain occupations when it comes to future MPs. The most favoured groups among Conservative voters are doctors (64% want "more") and economists (65%); among Labour voters they are doctors (71%) and factory workers (72%). Lib Dems are most likely to want more teachers (62%) and scientists (63%), while UKIP voters want more factory workers (62%).

It's possible some voters are aware of, and worried about, the recent decline in the number of manual workers in Parliament, and the consistently tiny proportion of MPs that were once doctors or scientists.

The results are also mostly consistent with voters simply wanting more of the sorts of people they trust, and fewer of those they distrust, to represent their interests. YouGov polling that tracks trust in people in several different occupations has long found family doctors and school teachers among the most trusted occupations, and tabloid journalists among the least trusted.

Voters of different political stripes vary

Image: Getty

See the full poll results