A call to give MPs more money and more time off may not sound like much of a vote winner. But a think tank says that could be one way to attract a different kind of person into Parliament. The Institute for Government estimates that candidates can run up bills of tens of thousands of pounds, more than enough to deter most people, which helps explain why so many MPs come from the same narrow, public school- educated elite.
The think tank believes that means-tested bursaries might tempt more women, ethnic minorities and less well off people to try their hand. It also advocates US-style open primaries, enabling ordinary people to play a role in the selection of candidates. These ideas are worth considering. "Diversity" can be dismissed as a buzzword. But if Parliament does not become more truly representative of the nation, it cannot hope to remain at the centre of political life.Reuse content