Politics may sometimes now seem a young person’s game, but there remains a great collected wisdom in the House of Commons.
2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1987 general election. It brought Margaret Thatcher’s third victory but also a new group of MPs to herald change in the Palace of Westminster. The new intake included four ethnic minority MPs – the first elected since before the Second World War. Also, it began the process of the House of Commons moving slowly towards becoming a more modern institution. We interview 14 of its leading lights who remain in Parliament in 2012 on p38 – including our cover stars Diane Abbott, Alistair Darling and Andrew Mitchell – about their experiences.
Some of the 1987 intake remain at the height of their powers. Others have remarkable testimonies about their time in Parliament. Not that they are done yet.
Someone who provokes endless questions about their future is David Miliband. On p28 you will find an interview with him on his Movement for Change. It’s a fascinating article by Amber Elliott, who spent time with the former foreign secretary and ‘M4C’, shining some light on a new way of doing politics beyond Parliament. If David Miliband’s plans bear fruit, Labour could become a potent grassroots force. His work is well underway.
Miliband embodies two current trends in politics. One is the relative youth of those standing for the party leadership positions. Only one can be chosen, so how do the losers recover when only in their mid-40s? The other is the urgent need to regain the connection between the public and political parties. Formal membership is not the answer as political party numbers prove. The looser but vibrant relationships built up through the ‘community organisers’ of the Movement for Change might offer a solution. David Miliband still has a future – and he offered us a rare glimpse into his work. I hope you enjoy the issue.
The new year brings with it our continuing hunt for everything that makes politics come alive.
The new issue of Total Politics is out on the 20 December