The ‘political class’ in Scotland: do the numbers tell the full story?

With Michael Keating and Alex Wilson, I am doing some work on the UK ‘political class’ – focusing, for example, on the devolution effect. While we find a positive effect on the representation of women, we note that devolution has accelerated the trend towards ‘professionalization’:

Elected representatives are far more likely  to enjoy  high levels of university education and are increasingly likely to have  formative occupation in narrowly  defined  ‘politics-facilitating’  role.  Very  few  politicians  have  a  blue  or  white  collar  background, despite this representing the largest category in the general population. Devolution has  reinforced many of these trends.

Yet, the numbers don’t really give you a sense of the diversity of occupations. Here is a list of notes on the occupational backgrounds of MSPs in 2011 (with some blanks where we have minimal detail). There are some predictable entries (e.g. ‘Lists no relevant work experience outside of politics’) but also many that are not.

Notes on Occupation
biochemist Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Senior media relations officer for Church of Scotland. Various spells in public affairs and as political researcher.
First for a TUC unemployment centre then council posts in similar area
NUS president then Press office help the aged then Labour party.
Research Officer for Labour, Amicus, Royal College of Nursing. Prior to election was Policy Manager of Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Senior planner and lecturer in planning
Trained as a solicitor. Directs a small company that carries out business training.
Served in the Marines 4 years). Then worked for 15 years as a local government professional, where he was an active trade union representative with UNISON.
Manager of Citizens Advice Bureau 1987-2011
Worked for Nicola Sturgeon, Shona Robison, Stewart Hosie.
Worked 25 years for motor retail business then 5 years as a business consultant.
Worked for Learning and Teaching Scotland, firstly as Software Development Manager, then as Quality and Risk Manager.
Worked for Ark Housing Association (3 years) then for 10 years as a social worker.
SNP researcher then solicitor then advocate since 1990
Sports Journalist 1980-2011
Worked as a chemical engineer for Unilever. For many more years has been a self-employed musician, performer, teacher.
School Teacher.
Parliamentary Researcher 2003-7, Glasgow City Councillor 2007-
Confusing background – to verify
Vol sector then MP assistant then part of Calaghan’s election team then FT for GMB
Solicitor, own firm
EU Competition Lawyer in Brussels then MP 2001-5
Clerical then housing association posts
Worked for various companies but unclear in what capacity
Clerical posts in local government, voluntary and TU sectors then Labour Party organiser
Housing Officer (7 years), Teacher (8 years)
Career in police service until 2006
Worked for SNP since university.
Full-time councillor in Glasgow. Former MSP 1999-2003
Principal teacher
Solicitor/ partner
Teacher then solicitor
Administrator in council and UNISON
Teacher then OXFAM
student and political activist
Youth Worker Gay Men’s Services, PHACE Scotland then Lanarkshire Development Worker
Accountant then teacher but main work in community care/ rights in councils
Worked for Alex Neill MSP.
Insurance marketing
Ran family business then business consultant, then research, then economic consultant
Partner family firm
Assistant to MSP 1999-2011. Check what she did between leaving school and 1999
Lists no relevant work experience outside of politics
Worked on various white collar jobs, mainly for Scottish Power.
Candidate for national, and regional elections, usually lost. Absence of non-political work or interests.
Solicitor 2000-2007.
Clerical work electricity board then Salmond’s office then council
Worked for family business – butcher
Teacher and director of shelter, but mostly journalist
MP researcher and adviser; lecturer 1 year
Worked for MSPs
Management Accountant in private sector 1989-2011. Several administrative account positions in public and private sector 1981-989
BBC news producer
Student who dropped out of Glasgow university, local councillor and full-time political activist
Fisherman for 3 years then builder for 18 years. Small business owner?
public and private sector, special constable, territorial army. IR Need some dates
worked in pr then qualified as lawyer
FT councillor
Public Affairs for Shelter
qualified as chartered accountant but worked for many years in voluntary sector, MP 2008-10. Not clear what he did between 2001 and 2008
Community occupational therapist
Various admin work in family business then fire brigade
Worked for various politicians and as director of public affairs consultancies.
training consultant, training executive
Shipping then stockbroker then set up a fish farm
Combined voluntary work and motherhood.
Nurse and Social Worker.
Librarian, MSP 1999-2003
Welder until 1996 then political researcher
Supply Analyst for IBM (2 years). Worked for SNP (7 years)
Shipbuilder then FT GMB official
Doctor and researcher in oncology
Teacher then MSP adviser
Academic scientific research then private sector then MEP researcher then PT lecturer
Manager in public/ private sectors and economic consultant
Electrical Fitter (9 years inc. 3 training), Trade Union Official (9 years)
Own car sales business
38 year career in police service reaching high rank
Welder, British Steel Corporation
LibDems in local government 1990-2001 and Westminster 2010-11, Public relations 2001-6, MP 2006-10
Social Worker 1979-88. Guide Dogs for Blind 1989-2005. North East Sensory Services 2005-11.
Community worker
Author and journalist, then director of private company.
Economist in CS then private sector
CS then BT but lecturer economics 20 years
MP assistant and some PR jobs but also 8 years as farmer
GP and psychiatrist
Teacher; pilot voluntary sector project
Teacher (16 years), Conservative Party (8 years)
Voluntary Sector inc. political communications, political assistant with trade union elected positions. Dates??
technology innovation in BOS
Social Worker (16 years), MP ( 8 years), Voluntary Sector (2 years)
retail sector then political assistant for SNP since 1999
Solicitor Drumchapel law centre
Research project then business consultant
Local Government (Trading Standards). Internal Promotions till level of Director.
Engineer 1987-2007, assistant to MSP 2007-11
Manages family hotel since 1973
Electrical engineer by training, worked in management of various oil/gas companies with spells as director/managing directo
Teacher (2 years), then as PA for Deutag Drilling (14 years)
Press officer William Wallace society
Coachbuilder (10 years), Voluntary Sector/Housing Associations (14 Years), Scottish Government (6 years)

1 Comment

Filed under Scottish politics, UK politics and policy, Uncategorized

One response to “The ‘political class’ in Scotland: do the numbers tell the full story?

  1. Pingback: Q: How can you select the perfect MPs? A. You can’t. | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

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