Labour, the Times reports this morning, is on the lookout for more working class MPs. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett – whose parents’ occupation is not listed in standard sources (though he was himself a plumber before he was a full-time politician) – is in charge of a programme expressly designed to get more proletarians into parliament.
Those such as Tessa Jowell, who are insistent that the rise of Ikea, Ryanair and X Factor has made Britain so clever and classless and free, simply likely not see the point. Other Blairites will suspect a sinister plot to shoehorn more leftwingers into Westminster, the better to further the nefarious designs of Red Ed.
Of course, there is no necessary relationship between someone’s social background and his or her political outlook. As anyone with an awareness of Labour Party history will be well aware, horny handed sons and daughters of toil have often in the past stood well to the right of the upper class radicals in the mould of Strachey, Cripps or Benn.
But if the scheme is successful, it will be an important step towards ensuring that the Parliamentary Labour Party is more representative of the country than it is at present. That can only be a good thing.
What is more, the symbolism counts. Given that Labour has spent the last 18 years running away from the notion that it was ever a workers’ party, a nod in the direction of the people to which New Labour referred only by the condescending euphemism of ‘the heartland vote’ is well overdue.