Andy Burnham's remark that electoral reform was a "fringe pursuit for Guardian-reading classes" is ironic, given that the editor C P Scott served as the Liberal MP for Burnham's Leigh constituency from 1895-1906.

Henry Goodrich, the first Labour MP in Diane Abbott's Hackney North, had been a police union leader, dismissed from the force for his part in the 1919 strike. Alfred Broughton was Labour MP for Batley and Morley (1949-79), a predecessor seat to the one now occupied by Ed Balls. Broughton was too ill to attend the vote of confidence that Labour lost in 1979. A 2009 radio play, How Are You Feeling, Alf? by James Graham, imagined conversations between Broughton and Jim Callaghan.

In 1947, one of Ed Miliband's forerunners in Doncaster, Evelyn Walkden, was forced to resign from the PLP because he had sold information to the Evening News. David Miliband's South Shields has never elected a Tory since it was established in 1832, but it was bombed by Zeppelins in 1915.

This article first appeared in the 19 July 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Godless Britain