NEW data on the schooling background of Scotland MPs in 2017 provides further evidence they are being recruited from a wider base than in the early post-war period. 

The relative success of the Scottish Conservatives is particularly important, since it is traditionally from those ranks we would expect to see the biggest gaps in “microcosmic” representation.

From Professor Michael Keating’s work on post-war MP backgrounds, you can see far starker trends with many Labour and Conservative MPs to analyse. 

Traditionally, Labour MPs were the most likely to be working class, trade unionists and former councillors, while Conservative MPs were far more likely to be upper class, “public-school” educated and with military backgrounds, particularly when recruited from rural rather than urban areas. 

Representation in Scotland accentuated these differences: while Conservative MPs had similar backgrounds throughout Britain, Labour MPs in Scotland were far, far less likely to go to independent fee-paying schools than their counterparts. 

For example, 21.5 per cent of all Labour MPs, 1945-70, went to public school, while only four per cent of Labour MPs in Scotland did so.

These figures compare with 77 per cent of all Conservative MPs and 64 per cent of Conservative MPs in Scotland. 

By 1992, the last election in which Scottish  Conservative MPs were in double figures, six of 11 MPs were privately educated. 

So, the drop to two of 13 MPs (55 per cent to 23 per cent) seems important, even if the numbers are too small to draw many conclusions.

It compares with 45 per cent privately educated Conservative MPs overall (according to the Sutton Trust report, Parliamentary Privilege). 

This drop also helps maintain a relatively low level of private education among MPs in Scotland overall: roughly one in 10 privately educated compares with approximately three in 10 in Westminster in 2017.

Of course, these figures still contrast with the seven per cent privately educated in the general population, and we are not yet at the point where we can say that MPs are truly representative.

But at least these figures on school education are less out of sync than for other key sources of representation such as gender.

Paul Cairney is Professor of Politics and Public Policy, Division of History and Politics at the  University of Stirling.