Letter: Class of '97

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Sir: Concern is being expressed that the new intake of MPs haven't done long night shifts in the cold. I agree with Joe Ashton MP that we need representatives who are in touch with "working-class people" through their own working life experience ("Unions press for MPs from working class", 2 September).

As nurses prior to the election, Laura Moffatt (MP for Crawley) and I have many years of experience of 12-hour night shifts, working in stressful conditions when people's lives depend on your knowledge and abilities. Brute hard work is not just the preserve of traditionally "male" blue- collar workers. Nursing is hard labour (the tough side of new Labour?), and many nurses, like myself, suffer from permanent problems like back injuries.

Nursing also drives home the significance of public policy when confronted with the adverse effects that low incomes and poor housing can have on people's health. As a nurse I spent much time nursing the casualties of mean-minded politics - so much so that I sought election as a Labour candidate to bring about the preventative treatment of policy change.

MPs need to be representatives of the broad spectrum of life experiences. So whilst nursing may be a profession, it is also important to remember that being a nurse is a vocation of hands-on tough work, and there are now two of them serving as representatives in Parliament.