There's one thing that critics of Cameron agree upon that I want to question. It's the idea that their wealth and background disqualify them from being able to represent "ordinary" people. For example, Nadine Dorries worries that politicians are "distant from the people voting and can never truly represent them". And Tim Roache of Class says (about 18' in) that rich MPs can't make policy about poverty because they've never experienced it.
But if I go to the doctor with an ailment, the doctor doesn't need to have had the same illness if he's to cure me.I don't care what his medical history is, or whether he "feels my pain". What matters is that he has the knowledge to put me right. The same is true for most professions; expertise matters, not background.To paraphrase Arrigo Sacchi, you don't need to have been a horse to be a good jockey.
And history shows that posh MPs can serve working class interests. Leading members of the 1945-51 government such as Attlee, Dalton and Cripps were public schoolboys. But they contributed to the most radical leftist government we've had (a low bar, admittedly).
Why, then, are Dorries and Roache - and countless others - concerned that politicians be more representative or "engaged" with voters? I fear there are two unpleasant things at work here.
One is a conception of politics as a pure marketing exercise. The question of whether MPs are in touch" with voters serves to deflect attention from the tougher question of which actual policies best advance the interest of the worst-off. I suspect Dorries did not go into the jungle out of a desire to promote effective anti-poverty policies.
Secondly, there's a belief that the only knowledge that matters is direct experience; Tim seems to think that only the poor can truly understand poverty.This is doubtful. And what's even more doubtful - in fact plain wrong - is that direct experience of poverty is necessary to know which policies are best to relieve poverty.