Drawing on data from the Parliamentary Candidates UK project, we profile the socio-demographic characteristics of parliamentary candidates standing in 2015 and compare elected MPs to previous cohorts since 1979. We argue that the 2015 cohort of candidates largely resembles the archetypal candidate identified by Durose et al. (2013, Parliamentary Affairs, 66, 246–267). Despite smaller parties’ campaign rhetoric of a ‘new kind of politics’, parties across the spectrum offer up very similar candidate profiles. We find a narrowing of occupational backgrounds, with fewer candidates and MPs from manual occupations, and an increasing percentage of candidates and MPs with a university education. Competition across the parties, particularly in terms of the selection of women and black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates, has positive consequences for the representativeness of Parliament. However, despite a record number of women and BME MPs elected, Parliament remains disproportionately white and male.

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