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Character Creation Guidelines


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Character Creation Guidelines

What do you look like?

Back in the halcyon days of 1986, politicians were predominantly pale, male, and stale. Most MPs are some derivation of Protestant at this time, there are a handful of other religions such Jewish MPs and Catholics.

You can play a female MP, but your character can not have been in the cabinet or shadow cabinet (they may have been a junior minister). If you do attain senior roles, it will be commented on and in general the expectations on you for propriety and competence will be quite high. No, it isn't fair.

Openly gay or lesbian MPs are unacceptable in any party. Your character may be closeted but if you overly hint at it in public the press will  notice. Not only are there no openly trans MPs in 1986, but the very idea of a trans person is not exactly understood by the public or the MPs.

Almost all MPs are married and it is considered weird if you are not, especially if you are also a woman. Wedlock is very important in society so having an affair is as serious as a breach of the Ministerial Code used to be.

In terms of age, you were likely first elected somewhere between 40 and 60. You can be elected below 40, but that's pretty unlikely. Also, in 1986, Charles Kennedy is the baby of the House, so you're limited to being no younger than 25. Unfortunately, age does matter and, if you aspire to a career on the frontbench, you’re probably at least in your 40s at this point in time (if not in your 50s or 60s). Being a man also won't harm your chances...

There were no BAME MPs in 1986, and so your character may only be white.

Where did you go to school?

In general, your character probably attended school before grammars were phased out. If that is the case, you likely attended either a grammar school, a secondary modern, or fee-charging independent school, the most prestigious of which are called public schools. Any school background is acceptable for any party. However, bear in mind that a majority of Tory and Alliance MPs (around 70%) attended fee paying schools, while less than 20% of Labour MPs did.

It is not necessary for your MP to have attended university, but the majority did. It was more likely if you are a Conservative (71%) than Labour (53%) or Alliance (65%). A sizeable number of Conservative MPs (48% of them) - particularly those on the frontbenches - attended an Oxbridge institution. There are, of course, a number of good universities that you may have attended outside of Oxbridge. If you went to a public school, the burden of family history very likely dictated that you went to university (and while we’re at it, you probably attended an Oxbridge institution).

Of course, it is acceptable to just have further education or even to have left education entirely (in particular if you are a Labour MP and took up a trade).

What did you do for work before Parliament?

The vast majority of careers are open to players. It is not yet overly common for politicians to come from the professional political and policy crowd (think of people at think tanks or working as special advisors to frontbenchers) in both major parties but it is less uncommon in the Conservative Party. Equally, professionals are represented in both parties (doctors, lawyers, consultants, and the like), as are members of the Armed Forces.

If you worked with your hands then you are overwhelmingly likely to be a Labour MP. Dockers, miners, factory workers, trades union reps - these are all jobs that will get you placed in the "very likely to be Labour" camp. While most Labour MPs are there is increasing professionalisation of politics in Labour, and that will undoubtedly grow (unless you try and stop it) at the next election the professional politicians, businessmen, and university types are mostly on the Tory benches. In terms of money Labour MPs tend to come from very little (not everyone can be Tony Benn) whereas Tories tend to come from a lot more (not everyone can be the son of a circus act, John).

Labour MPs are frequently from manual occupations (often sponsored into Parliament by trade unions) - e.g. 20 Labour MPs are former miners, public sector workers, educators, trade unionists (there are, for our purposes, no Conservative trade unionists), and lawyers. High flying businesspeople and finance types largely distrust the Labour Party especially after the Michael Foot fiasco so keep that in mind. But it’s possible to have some finance types in the party. Conservative MPs are frequently businesspeople, landowners, or the gentle farming stock and country gentry.

What are the exceptions, you might ask? There are a few. First of all, senior civil servants, ambassadors and high commissioners, judges, and field and fleet grade officers in the Armed Forces (anyone with a star) do not become MPs except in rare circumstances; so rare, in fact, that we are banning your characters from having those jobs. Likewise, even mid-tier civil servants are unlikely to join the Commons. However, should you decide you want to have a civil service background, you are allowed to rise to the mid-ranks, but you will require a five year cooling off period before entering Parliament.

What political experience is allowed?

Your character, if they are male, may have served on the frontbench of your party in any role. Serving in a Great Office of State or their Shadow, namely Chancellor, Home Secretary or Foreign Secretary, requires pre-approval from an Admin. You may have worked as a political staffer - including as an aide to senior ministers or Shadow Cabinet members. Just bear in mind, if you were a frontbencher or worked for one, you’re liable to be tied to the real-life decisions made at that time to some degree.

Alternatively, you may have served in local government, or been a backbench MP (and have documented service on select committees).

Regarding being an MP… there are some basic rules. You may have been elected at any election since your character was over the age of 18. James Callaghan, notable for being a former Prime Minister, is the current Father of the House, so you must have been elected no earlier than him (1945) or there must be a break in there as the Father of the House is for longest continual service. If there was a by-election in your seat, you can join Parliament at that by-election (providing your party won). All results remain the same, so if you picked Bristol East in 1979, you were rejected by the voters in 1983 (sorry) and if you want to play then you'll have had to have chicken ran to another seat.

Awards and honours

In general, if you want to have an award of some sort, that will require Admin pre-approval. Likewise, honours are selectively awarded to players for service in the game (either as an admin or as a leader of a party). If you are claiming your honour, please have a background worthy of the honour (note: if you are a Sir/Dame, you are likely in the Order of British Empire - the Order of Bath and Order of St Michael and St George require special admin approval as these are largely for civil and military service).

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Roleplaying views that are acceptable in 1986 but not in 2022

There are a range of views that it would have been acceptable in 1986 on social issues, and a way of expressing those views, that would not be acceptable in 2022.

This is a sensitive issue, and our policy on it is subject to change based on feedback and how things are going. We do not want to prevent genuine roleplaying, but we also want to ensure that we are not either creating an unsafe space, or giving people who hold unacceptable views an outlet to press or pursue their agendas.

Therefore, our policy is based on the principle that It is OK to roleplay mainstream views of the 1980s that would not be acceptable today, such as opposition to liberal laws on homosexuality (especially in light of the AIDS crisis) or anti immigration views. However, PolUK is also a safe space that wants to ensure it is diverse and inclusive to anyone who wants to play, and so any roleplaying of those views has to be consistent with that or it does not take place at all.

In practice, this means:

  • You must not use extreme, hateful, or violent homophobic, racist, or misogynistic language, full stop. MPs were still polite most of the time, so you can be too.
  • Views that would have been extreme in 1986 are, generally, not permissible. Enoch Powell might have had a following among the National Front but he did not have much traction at all in the British establishment in 1986. This is an area where you should play in what was still broadly the mainstream of British politics at the time.
  • If your character has views that would not be acceptable today, we encourage you to flag them in your bio and include a disclaimer to the effect that you do not hold them ooc.
  • There is an absolute zero tolerance approach to any blurring of OOC and IC, whatever form that takes: whether in game action (such as targeting certain players or characters that are women, LGBT+, or other minorities), or OOC comments. 
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