Where are they now? The students who went on to become national politicians - Student Life - Student - The Independent

Where are they now? The students who went on to become national politicians

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Where did our country's leaders study? And what were they like as students?

Long before any MP first sets foot into Westminster, most have already spent years shouting their half-formed political opinions over the bar at their student union.

Leading the University Labour Club or chairing an Oxbridge debating society has long been seen as the initial aperitif to a career in politics. But is participating in student politics a vital extra-curricular activity for somebody who wants to run for MP, or a just another excuse to be drunk and obnoxious?

Did our current politicians spend their student days discussing the finer points of party ideology? Click here to find out what these famous political figures got up to in their university days...

So what does this teach us?

Rather depressingly for nearly everyone, most of the politicians in this article studied at Oxbridge. In the current government, the figure is still disproportionately high but more hopeful. 34 per cent of Conservative MPs studied at Oxford or Cambridge, whereas only 17 per cent of Labour MPs did. The Lib Dems take the middle with 26 percent. This still leaves the overwhelming majority, 76 per cent, of MPs who have arrived down different educational paths.

If you are the kind of person who vaguely knows they want to “change stuff” in the future but is currently focusing on improving your position in the Ultimate Frisbee team rather trying to wrestle votes from an apathetic student audience, do not despair. Our last two Prime Ministers spent their time chatting and playing guitar, rather than taking over the world one society at a time.

Unfortunately, some politicians, including David Cameron, have probably been helped by a plethora of well-placed contacts. We commoners may insult the Bullingdon Club as much as we like, but it has become the ultimate symbol of the networking between the wealthy and well-connected which we now associate with high level politics.

The publicity that Jack Straw gained as head of the National Student Union helped to establish him as a serious political player. However, he was a student half a century ago. Today’s students are not as focused on radical politics as their 1960s equivalents.

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