Getting into politics without an Oxbridge degree Watch

ilickbatteries
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How hard is it? It certainly seems to me that politics is dominated by Oxford and Cambridge graduates. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, because it isn't. The vast majority of Oxbridge graduates are bright, intelligent people, and their domination of the political arena at least ensures that our politicians are well educated and such.

However, can it be to the detriment of politics? Does an "old-boys" culture dominate politics to such an extent that not going to Oxbridge can affect one's political career?

I remember watching a documentary on the BBC that, in a nutshell, said that politics is now a complete career. You get a job working for a party, then work your way up and eventually, if you make it, you'll be an MP. However, it went on to say that these graduates who work for the parties are almost exclusively Oxbridge graduates.

What do you think?

Again, just for clarity, I'm not accusing any party of having a bias towards anyone from any university. I'm just saying that the majority of the current UK cabinet are Oxbridge educated.

Conservative Cabinet

Cameron - Oxford
Osborne - Oxford
Clegg - Cambridge
Hague - Oxford
Clarke - Cambridge
May - Oxford
Fox - Glasgow
Cable - Cambridge
Huhne - Oxford
Duncan-Smith - Sandhurst
Lansley - Exeter
Gove - Oxford
Pickles - Leeds Poly
Hammond - Oxford
Spelman - Queen Mary
Mitchell - Cambridge
Paterson - Cambridge
Moore - Edinburgh
Gillan - College of Law
Hunt - Oxford
Alexander - Oxford
Strathclyde - East Anglia
Warsi - Leeds
Maude - Cambridge
Letwin - Cambridge
Willets - Oxford
Young - Oxford
McLoughlin - No degree
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Tenbinza
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Go to any uni, then kick up a huge fuss in the Daily Mail about everyone in government being oxbridge educated. Guilt trip them into employing you. Always works.
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mcgovernjon
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You just have to get enough people in a constituency to vote for you. Most of the public probably won't care whether or not you've been to Oxbridge.
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cambio wechsel
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(Original post by ilickbatteries)
I remember watching a documentary on the BBC that, in a nutshell, said that politics is now a complete career. You get a job working for a party, then work your way up and eventually, if you make it, you'll be an MP.
This is a much worse thing, whether they come from Oxbridge or elsewhere. Time was when a person who fainted in the house of commons might have been attended to by one of half a dozen physicians from the benches. Everyone had had a career before entering politics in early middle age, often at the urging of friends and out of a sense that it was "time to do one's bit". Now, though, the career politician, media-trained (and neutered) since he turned up at 22 to be someone's researcher.
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cambio wechsel
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(Original post by n1r4v)
For someone who knows little about politics; what do these initial careers in politics actually involve? :confused:
The job description:
http://www.prospects.ac.uk/politicia...escription.htm

The working week:
http://careers.guardian.co.uk/diary-...in-westminster


But I'd insist that a far better training for it would be working in a hospital, or a school, or at the bar (or a bar), or on a building site, or in some other career of the type that is done by, and which will bring you into contact with, the people who you'll later claim to represent.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by ilickbatteries)
How hard is it? It certainly seems to me that politics is dominated by Oxford and Cambridge graduates.
But the current cabinet is largely representative of those who completed their education in the 1980s and 90s.

If you look at the 2010 intake of MPs a far smaller proportion of them, from all parties, are Oxbridge graduates. It may be that the Oxbridge graduates amongst them ultimately rise to the top or it may be that they won't.
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ilickbatteries
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
But the current cabinet is largely representative of those who completed their education in the 1980s and 90s.

If you look at the 2010 intake of MPs a far smaller proportion of them, from all parties, are Oxbridge graduates. It may be that the Oxbridge graduates amongst them ultimately rise to the top or it may be that they won't.
That sounds pretty interesting actually.

How did you find it out? Did you just look at each MP's history individually or was there a site with the statistics?
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Laurah5498
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It can be done. You can start at the local level before attempting to go to the national level.

My boyfriend is a local councillor for Stoke-on-Trent city council so he's already got a fair few thousand people voting for him. He's planning to run for being an MP at some point. He's also doing a Politics and IR degree so there's some sort of experience in there
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Cheese_Monster
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It is dominated by Oxbridge party drones and the MPs who speak their conscience are dismissed by the party whip or the speaker.
Of course you can get into politics without an Oxbridge degree but you are less likely to have chances of success within your party, obviously Plato's philosophy has come to fruition.
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cambio wechsel
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(Original post by n1r4v)
Thanks. Has politics changed in that there's a clear bottom to top "progression", or is it possible for people in other sectors to go into politics? As you say, people who have worked in hospitals or schools for most of their careers would probably be best equipped to understand them?
It's still possible but I think what has happened is that the business of candidate selection has become much more centralised. It's today done off lists, with preferred and vetted candidates parachuted into constituencies with which they've little or no connection, this where it had once been very much more in the hands of the constituency party. And from the constituency: a local GP, a town councillor who had put in the hard yards in local politics, a union rep, a headmaster. Enjoyably oddball some of them, and we can't take that chance in an age of soundbites and line-toeing, can we? And you can't bully someone who can at any point go back to a fairly lucrative career in ministering to the sick or putting cases before the courts.

If you just have a brief look at the biography bit on the wikipedia pages for prominent MPs from the present, the 90s, the 80s, the 70s, you'll see how very different their profiles are. Margaret Thatcher, for example, was an industrial chemist and then a barrister. And those are real jobs. Now they are many of them just policy wonks from the get go.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by ilickbatteries)
That sounds pretty interesting actually.

How did you find it out? Did you just look at each MP's history individually or was there a site with the statistics?
Sutton Trust report

http://www.suttontrust.com/research/...nds_2010_A.pdf

Be careful and read the raw data not the rather tendentious conclusions at the beginning. For example the Sutton Trust makes out that Parliament is becoming more independent school dominated. However if you read the figures, it is clear that the proportion of independent educated MPs in all parties is falling. However as the Tories and Liberals have a higher baseline of independently educated MPs, the increase in independently educated MPs is simply a reflection of the fact Labour lost the election! Likewise whilst they stress that less than half the MPs were comprehensively educated, they don't stress that the proportion of comprehensively educated new boys was greater than the old lags.
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Zionic
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Know how the political system works and join a party. Work for your party with an MP or something like that, then stand for election at a garuntee winnable area for your party.

Once you get into the Commons as an MP start brown nosing those higher up than you. Make digs at the opposition party whenever you can. You'll eventually work your way up.

You have to keep your constituents happy though, if not they'll just recall you and vote you out.
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Jack McGill
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I think Oxbridge have the biggest advantage because of the connections they make more than anything.
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yahyahyahs
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Getting into politics with no degree - John Major. I think it matters a lot due to the connections, but also, it doesn't matter so much if you want to be an MP because the people voting for you most likely will not give two ****s whether you have a double starred First in PPS.
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Chillaxer
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Easy. It's only that these guys shrewdness is linked to them getting to oxbridge, the aforementioned shrewdness which helps them in politics. It doesn't mean a shrewd person who doesn't happen to have done that won't make it. There's no academic 'in' to politics, it's more about savvy, personal relations etc. Machiavelli didn't need to be a sodding scholar.
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Prince Rhyus
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Oxford & Cambridge both have very strong student societies for most of the mainstream political parties. That plus many of their alumni being in politics anyway means that they are able to secure big name guest speakers that other universities struggle to get.

Roll that all together with that all-important networking (where you find out stuff most people would otherwise miss - eg events & internship opportunities) & there you have it.

Universities with such strong societies mean that students are more likely to come across them in day-to-day life, increasing likelihood that some will get involved, & those that do are more likely to be better informed about the goings on in Westminster than others.
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alicia151295
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(Original post by Tenbinza)
Go to any uni, then kick up a huge fuss in the Daily Mail about everyone in government being oxbridge educated. Guilt trip them into employing you. Always works.
i dont mean to step on anyones toes but there is a reason why they come from oxbridge.

if your bright you get into a good prep school
if your smart you get into a good secondary school
if your the best you get into a good university - like oxbridge

if you only manage to get into (portsmouth) than you probably are not the brightest and therefore the best for the country, and you have to realise you cannot muscle your way past the best and brightest with mediocre abilities and over confidence.
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gladders
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(Original post by Cheese_Monster)
It is dominated by Oxbridge party drones and the MPs who speak their conscience are dismissed by the party whip or the speaker.
*sigh* no. No they are not.
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redferry
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It's still pretty easy to go in through the unions and they will take people with any degree as an intern.
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MostUncivilised
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(Original post by ilickbatteries)
I remember watching a documentary on the BBC that, in a nutshell, said that politics is now a complete career. You get a job working for a party, then work your way up and eventually, if you make it, you'll be an MP.
This is a huge issue, both here and in my home state of New South Wales.

You see people get involved in university politics, they then get a job as an advisor to a minister, work their way up as a SPAD and are eventually parachuted into a safe seat, never having faced a competitive election and never having had any experience outside politics (and often not even having the kind of machine / grassroots political experience, local government and unions, that you'd expect of a politician)

The preponderance of Oxbridge grads in politics creates a narrowness of experience and expectation that I think is quite damaging to our system of politics.
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