How many sitting UK MPs who hold a PhD degree? Watch

special1ne
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I realize that the topic of this thread is trivial and unnecessary to some readers, so I expect some of the replies (if any) to reflect this. Preamble aside, I'd like to know of those who hold the noteworthy distinction of the two titles, to be honest :cool: It must be unique, the efforts required to both study for a PhD and be elected into Parliament!


Off the top of my head, I know of Vince Cable and Gordon Brown. I also found out about Therese Coffey and Julian Huppert from the Guardian, in separate articles, then I saw Stella Creasy on the telly a week ago, looked her up, and she's in too. Anybody else know of any names to add to this "exclusive" club?
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josh_v
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There is only 646 MP's, so im sure if you start googling now, it shouldnt take you too long to complete your list!
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special1ne
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Finally, I've looked up the bios of all current 650 MPs and I've come up with 21 who hold doctorate degrees, as of 2012. Here they are, in alphabetical order, and in order or political party:

Conservative:
Greg Clark (1992) PhD Economics
Therese Coffey (1998) PhD Chemistry
Kwasi Kwarteng (2000) PhD History
Oliver Letwin (1982) PhD Philosophy
Julian Lewis (1981) DPhil Strategic Studies
David Lidington (1988) DPhil History
Alexander Jesse Norman (2003) PhD Philosophy
Matthew Offord (2010) PhD Geography
John Redwood (1975) DPhil History

Green Party:
Caroline Lucas (1989) PhD English and Women's Studies

Labour:
Roberta Blackman-Woods (1989) PhD Social Science
Gordon Brown (1982) PhD History
Stella Creasy (2009) PhD Social Psychology
Jon Cruddas (1991) PhD Philosophy
Hywel Francis (1979) PhD History
Tristram Hunt (2000) PhD History
Gregg McClymont (2006) DPhil History
Alan Whitehead (1976) PhD Political Science

Liberal Democrat:
Vince Cable (1973) PhD Economics
Julian Huppert (2005) PhD Biological Chemistry

Scottish National Party:
Eilidh Whiteford (1997) PhD Scottish Literature

Works out at about 3.2% of the 650-seat House of Commons. Let's hope these brainboxes can sort out the economy, the NHS, housing and whatever other problems the UK faces! (To be fair, only the Tory and Lib Dem ones have a real shot at that). Of course, the gain of doctorate degrees doesn't facilitate or cause one to be a more productive MP, let alone to effectively govern the whole country. Though one can only try...
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pol pot noodles
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9-8 to the Tories, get in!
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gladders
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I imagine that the number of MPs with degrees is actually at a historical high.
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creak
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Or to look at it another way:

2.97% of sitting Tory MPs hold a PhD, versus:
3.14% Labour
3.51% Lib Dems
16.67% SNP
100% Greens

Interesting.
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doggyfizzel
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I honestly don't really place much prestige on PhD's personally. It more a case of are you willing to sacrifice years of your working life dedicated to a subject which you have already spent years studying. I'm at the point where I would need to apply for PhD's, looking around my year the people applying are not the most capable, they are just those who either aren't sure which field they want to go into to or haven't secured a Grad position.

For an MP its almost a negative thing, preparation for a career in politics would be far better spent improving ones knowledge of lesser known areas than further study in an area that your already know far better than the average person. Perhaps spending some time in the world of business or some time as a journalist or a member of a think-tank.
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special1ne
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(Original post by doggyfizzel)
I honestly don't really place much prestige on PhD's personally. It more a case of are you willing to sacrifice years of your working life dedicated to a subject which you have already spent years studying. I'm at the point where I would need to apply for PhD's, looking around my year the people applying are not the most capable, they are just those who either aren't sure which field they want to go into to or haven't secured a Grad position.

For an MP its almost a negative thing, preparation for a career in politics would be far better spent improving ones knowledge of lesser known areas than further study in an area that your already know far better than the average person. Perhaps spending some time in the world of business or some time as a journalist or a member of a think-tank.
You raise some valid points. My opinions aren't too different from yours in respect to the prestige of PhDs and studying choices for MPs, I think mine vary slightly.

Doctoral research has been my long-term goal for a while now. (I'm just waiting for life's difficulties and impracticalities to dissuade me from pursuing it - not long left ). Most see this as the mere gain of a PhD. All I'll say to that is that there's more to it than a dissertation, a thesis and a viva voce at the end of it all. Maybe not much more, but the things I just mentioned seem, to me at least, necessary but not sufficient components of research at the highest level. Granted, a willingness to work very hard and give up 3+ years of your working life helps, a lot. There are many doctorate students who don't need much more than that. Just as there are many who study for a PhD under the childish, misguided illusion that this will correct the issues they started off with, like securing that graduate-level job you never could beforehand.

There'll always be those who study, at any degree level, for the 'wrong' reasons. This doesn't impeach the idea of specializing in one particular field, academically speaking. Even for politics. Improving one's knowledge in unfamiliar areas is great, but doesn't necessarily bode well for a political career.

You can have, for example, a Secretary of State for Health, who knows his discipline well, has published papers, attends/holds conferences, considers public opinion on health matters, is passionate about these issues, knows more than anyone the long term pros and cons of particular strategies AND who has the intellectual foresight (plus a pinch of political temerity) to say:
"We were wrong, and this is why, but there's a Plan B. And no, it's not perfect, but here's why we're taking it anyway. Have no fear, you won't hear the 'it's the right thing to do' platitude, not today".
Or you can have an elected MP/entrepreneur who doesn't know the first thing about the NHS, who happens to want the job at the time of a Cabinet reshuffle. Personally I'd prefer the first guy, though I'm aware a PhD doesn't guarantee all this brilliance. Expertise, maybe.

Anyway, I don't mean to say or imply an MP without a PhD can't be effective in the same post as an MP with one. Quite the opposite, as history shows. Perhaps it then becomes a question of capacity, not competence. How far can one develop public health policy, given the time and money awarded to a Minister of Health in 2012? Will the NHS become the vanguard of hospital care and medical technology, and a paragon of state-funded healthcare to be modeled by countries the world over, thanks to one's political and academic sagacity? Or is one only able, and required by your Cabinet, to balance the books and increase performance of doctors and nurses in PCTs (until next March) all over the land, on a "ringfenced" budget?

But at the end of the day I suppose a 'versatile' politician is more useful in Government, on the face of it, as experts of a world-class calibre tend to avoid election to the House of Commons, maybe for good reason. Cue think tanks. Plus, cabinet reshuffles are a fact of politics, and with this government, they might come a few times, so we get more for our taxes
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Rakas21
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Regardless of whether a PHD is needed it is somewhat an indictment of recent governments that we have Chancellors who may never have studied Economics and energy secretaries who may know nothing.
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special1ne
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(Original post by Rakas21)
Regardless of whether a PHD is needed it is somewhat an indictment of recent governments that we have Chancellors who may never have studied Economics and energy secretaries who may know nothing.
You've basically got the gist of what I intimated with my crack at the Minister for Health (Jeremy Hunt, but also Andrew Lansley). You said it in less words than me too . The preoccupations of the last few governments (each more so than the last) seem to have been to secure power and exert influence in the country e.g. British universities , the mass media, even the judiciary (to a small extent). Also, good governance seems to have trailed a close second, but it should never be that way.

However, when you ask most people about the natural extrapolation of what I said in my last response, they tell you the following: a technocracy, on national matters, and a form of realpolitik, on international matters. The British electorate would much prefer the sententious manner of a career politician (David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith, to name three) than the judicious 'evidence before ideology' method of an expert-turned-MP.
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oliverthered
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(Original post by doggyfizzel)
I honestly don't really place much prestige on PhD's personally. It more a case of are you willing to sacrifice years of your working life dedicated to a subject which you have already spent years studying. I'm at the point where I would need to apply for PhD's, looking around my year the people applying are not the most capable, they are just those who either aren't sure which field they want to go into to or haven't secured a Grad position.

For an MP its almost a negative thing, preparation for a career in politics would be far better spent improving ones knowledge of lesser known areas than further study in an area that your already know far better than the average person. Perhaps spending some time in the world of business or some time as a journalist or a member of a think-tank.
As a mature student who has studdied and worked at various times of my life I see no reason why a PhD could not be taken after preparation for a career in politics or indeed before it. If anything the extra devotion and maturity would surly be a positive thing
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Sandy1949
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What a load of twaddle it's experience that counts not how clever a person is atrecollection we need mp,s in power who have worked for a living and know how the rest of us get by, to be able to make correct decisions and not talk rubbish with the word yes removed from their vocabulary
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Trotsky's Iceaxe
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(Original post by Sandy1949)
What a load of twaddle it's experience that counts not how clever a person is atrecollection we need mp,s in power who have worked for a living and know how the rest of us get by, to be able to make correct decisions and not talk rubbish with the word yes removed from their vocabulary
You attended the university of life, didn’t you?
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