Commenting on the death of former miner and Labour MP Kevin Hughes, the former Europe minister Denis MacShane has lamented the decline of working-class representation in Parliament - historically speaking the original raison d'etre for the Labour Party's existence.
Macshane blames it on Margaret Thatcher and her destruction of the coalfield communities, but for my part, I put it more down to the progressive convergence between left and right and the resulting homogenisation of MPs' social backgrounds, as well as the narrowing of the window of social opportunity that existed in the 1960s and 70s for the likes of ambitious working-class boys like John Prescott and Alan Milburn.
Either way, Macshane's comments have provoked what, to say the least, is an interesting reaction on the otherwise excellent Labour Watch site, whose author writes: "It is difficult to argue convincingly in support of the idea of more MPs like Dave Anderson, John Cummings, and Ronnie Campbell in parliament."
Shame on him! Quite apart from the fact that the trio he singles out are all from the North-East - a bit region-ist for a Lib Dem, don't you think? - the constituencies they represent are all themselves heavily working-class.
Is Labour Watch seriously arguing that consittuencies such as Easington and Blyth Valley with large numbers of former mineworkers would be better represented by policy wonks like David Miliband or law lecturers like Stephen Byers as opposed to, er, former mineworkers like Cummings and Campbell?
As MacShane quite rightly says: "We have fewer and fewer working-class Labour MPs like Kevin Hughes now, and parliament is the poorer as a result."