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What does an MP look like?
#1
What does an MP look like?
Much credit to Amelia for this (and the associated commentary)

Most MPs are boring. Very few of them had fantastically exciting careers as spies, diplomats, judges or high ranking Armed Forces Personnel. But more on that later, your MP’s life will be boring (maybe even normal?) so keep that in mind when writing your character’s bio.

Personal Details:

Welcome to the early 90s! If you thought that David Cameron's Cabinet was "pale, male, and stale" then you are sure in for a treat. In 1992 "pale, male, and stale" describes the vast majority of MPs. Labour's all women shortlists were not a thing yet. Despite her premiership, Margaret Thatcher did not inspire a revolution of women in the House of Commons. There were 60 women in the House after the 1992 election (20 Conservative, 37 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrats, 1 SNP). Therefore, if you're going to play a women, Labour is the most realistic option, though Conservative is reasonable.

The majority of MPs were middle class. This doesn’t mean that there were no working class MPs; obviously there were some, mainly on the Labour benches. Upper class MPs are mainly found on the Conservative benches. There aren’t many Anthony Wedgewood Benns on the Labour benches in 1997, nor are there many Patrick McLoughlins on the Conservative benches. More MPs are increasingly from "professional" political backgrounds such as think-tanks and political adviser roles.

In 1992, the Baby of the House, Matthew Taylor, was 29. Therefore, we will not be accepting biographies for players under 30. In reality, as most of you will be moving on to Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet roles, you should be a bit older. 35 is certainly on the young, but acceptable, end. The majority of you should be in somewhere from 40-70 years of age.

And speaking of age, if you're a male born before January 1, 1939, congratulations! You completed some form of National Service between the ages of 18-21. The likely entailed 18 months in the military, though other options are available.

Nearly all MPs were heterosexual at this point. Heterosexual or deeply in the closet. In fact, most MPs were married (doubly so if a woman) and the only form of marriage available to you is between a woman and a man. Let's remember that this is the early 1990s, so society wasn't exactly a bastion of tolerance for "alternative" sexual persuasions, but we're starting to move (slowly) in that direction.

MPs are overwhelmingly white and Christian, Jewish or agnostic. BAME MPs are few and far between at this point in time, though some did exist so we'll allow it, within reason. At this point in time the first Muslim MP had not been elected (that came in 1997) and the same can be said about the first Hindu MP (2001?). So we'd strongly encourage you to keep your religious tradition to the three aforementioned (Christian, Jewish or agnostic). Remember, John Smith was an avowed Christian socialist.

Education:

If you were born before 1944, as some of you will be, you attended an academic grammar school (and went to university), a central school (and learned a trade - looking at you Labourites), or a basic secondary school. If you are a woman in this timeframe you may have gone to homemaking school (the wonders of patriarchy).

If you MP was born after 1944 and before 1955, it is highly likely they went to a Grammar School or a Secondary Modern. After 1955, they went to a Grammar or Secondary Modern which eventually turned into a Comprehensive (blame Anthony Crosland and Margaret Thatcher for that). After around 1970, it was very unlikely your character went to a Grammar School. This is excepting the Grammar Schools which were allowed to survive (a list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gr...in_England).

If you went to a Grammar School, it is likely (although not certain) you went to university or a polytechnic. Poor kids got scholarships to go to university so remember to include that in your bio. If you went to a Secondary Modern, I’m sorry: you probably didn’t go to University unless you benefitted from the Open University or Ruskin College later in life. Life is tough.

Careers: 

Now this may appear confusing and it is the part where realism may fade away. So I’m going to split it into Labour and Conservative for simplicity. 

Labour:

Labour MPs are usually public sector workers, educators and trade unionists. They are unlikely to be big business owners or high powered businessmen (like CEOs or CFOs) because they get put in the Lords when they donate a cheque. 

Conservative:

Conservative MPs are more likely to be businesses owners or businessmen (yes, men because patriarchy). They are more likely to be landowners and come from gentle farming stock. There are no Conservative trade union officials or trade union leaders. 

Careers such as doctors, journalists, athletes, Armed Forces, lawyers and writers can be members of both parties. Diplomats, judges, and senior civil servants do not become MPs except in rare circumstances; so rare, in fact, that we are banning your characters from having those jobs. If you want to be like Harold Wilson, you can be a minor civil servant but there needs to be a long gap between your civil servant role and becoming a MP (at least 5 years, but more like 10). 

A note on political and parliamentary careers: 

Your character will join Parliament in any of the elections since 1951. Since Edward Heath was the Father of the House and was elected in 1950, you cannot be elected before that. If there was a by-election in your seat, you can join Parliament at that by-election (providing your party won). All results remain the same so if you picked Bristol East in 1979, you were rejected by the voters in 1983 (sorry).  

Since many of you will become frontbenchers, realism dictates you will have spent at least one Parliament (meaning you were elected in 1987) or more. How many times has a MP become a senior (Shadow) Cabinet member within 2 or 3 years of being elected? If you exclude Corbyn’s experience, never. So focus on a longish parliamentary career (while remembering that no character can be a MP before they are 30) and fill it in with some lower (Shadow) Government positions. But you cannot fill a Great Office of State or their Shadows – nor can you fill a position another character has taken. You could also be a Select Committee member or Chair (after 1979).

Conclusion

Overall the admins trust you to be realistic. But we will be carefully scrutinising each application to ensure that it is in keeping with MPs of the time period. And we will ask you to make changes if required – that would be very embarrassing. So if you are unsure, ask one of your friendly AVs for help.
Thanks given by: Richard De Villiers (CON)


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