Not wanted in our party

ED Miliband is right to suggest Parliament is too middle class.

When I was elected in 1987, there were still ex-miners, steelworkers, shipworkers, riveters, engineers, and representatives of the proud heavy industries which Maggie Thatcher was hell-bent on destroying.

Now most – including, it has to be said, Ed himself – never got their hands honestly dirty before they entered politics.

I have to declare an interest here. You may find it shocking, but I never went to Eton or Oxbridge. My school was Blyth Ridley Secondary Modern and my university, from the age of 14, was deep underground.

I also agree with Ed that Parliament and the Labour party should attract more candidates from the military – not least because of my son Barry is in service (SBS).

Whatever your view of recent and current wars, those who put their lives and limbs on the line deserve the greatest respect. And some of the best Labour ministers of the 1960s and 1970s were veterans.

Where I differ from Ed is his drive to bring in more businessmen and women. The place is already stuffed with them. I have no objection to genuine entrepreneurs and innovators who create jobs and actually make things rather than just money.

However, I don’t want to rub shoulders with more chancers exploiters, asset-strippers, spivs and City wide boys.

There’s a place for such people – in the Conservative party and the Lib Dems, not the Labour party. And I’m not keen on those ‘respectable’ bosses who continue to keep the wages of their workers down.

The latest figures show that average pay rises are running a full percentage point below inflation, and that gap will widen due to the impact of outrageous rises in home energy and travel costs.