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Conservative CenturyThe Conservative Party since 1900$
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Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202387.001.0001

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Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament

(p.145) 4 Members of Parliament
Conservative Century


Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the social background of Conservative MPs, and discusses that, throughout the century, MPs have never been a direct reflection of the educational or occupational backgrounds of Conservative voters or even activists. It notes that despite the introduction of a salary for MPs in 1912, the composition of the parliamentary party remained overwhelmingly plurocratic throughout the inter-war years, although the emphasis within the group was shifting from landed to commercial wealth. The chapter explains that concern at the narrow social base of the party began in the mid-1930s and resulted in reforms completed in the Maxwell–Fyfe report of 1948. These were intended to end the practice whereby candidate selection was determined principally by willingness and ability of applicants to donate a large annual sum to the local association. The chapter explicates that the absence of working-class Conservative MPs throughout the century has caused more concern within the party than without.

Keywords:   Conservative MPs, voters, activists, Maxwell–Fyfe report, candidate selection, landed wealth, commercial wealth, working class

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