Blog Type, IPT Blog | June 2017

Insights into the Class of 2017

The 2017 General Election

The 2017 General Election, held on the 8 June, saw 99 new MPs elected and 551 Members of Parliament return to Westminster.

Out of the 99 newly elected MPs, 12 had previously been elected and these include well known politicians such as Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable (Lib Dem MP for Twickenham), Rt Hon Esther McVey (Conservative MP for Tatton), and Chris Ruane (Labour MP for Vale of Clwyd). All three of these MPs lost their seats at the 2015 election.

Zac Goldsmith was also returned to Parliament just seven months after losing his Richmond Park seat to Sarah Olney in a by-election which was triggered after he resigned from the Conservative Party over Heathrow expansion.

The youngest MP elected in 2017, also known as the Baby of the House, is 22 year old Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, and Dennis Skinner MP, Labour MP for Bolsover, is the oldest MP of the Parliament at 85. Mhairi Black MP was also the youngest MP ever elected to Parliament when she was first elected in May 2015. 

Rt Hon Kenneth Clark QC MP retained his title of Father of the House (the MP with the longest unbroken service) who was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe in 1970. He narrowly beat Dennis Skinner MP, both having been elected in 1970, to this title as he is listed in Hansard as being sworn into Parliament before him.

In the same vein, Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP has recently become the very first Mother of the House as she is the longest serving female MP having been elected for the first time in 1982.


Breakdown of the new Class of 2017

The Conservative Party lost their overall Majority in Government, however remained the largest Party.  They are currently in talks with the Democratic Unionsit Party (DUP) about forming a “Confidence and Supply Arrangement” that would take them past the figure of 326 needed for a majority in the House of Commons. In reality however this figure is lower due to the fact that Sinn Fein do not take up their seats in the UK Parliament.

This means that Theresa May has stayed on as Prime Minister but is now Leader of a Conservative Minority Government. The full breakdown is as follows:

2017: Our Most Diverse Parliament to date

The 2017 General Election has produced the most diverse House of Commons to date, with a rise in the number of women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and LGBT elected members. There has also been an increase in disabled representation.

Female MPs 208/650 (32%)

Conservatives - 67

Labour - 119

SNP - 12

Lib Dem - 4

There is now more gender equality than ever before in the House of Commons, with 1 in 3 MPs now being Female.

Ethnic minority MPs 52/650 (8%)

Conservatives - 19

Labour - 32

Lib Dem - 1

The 2017 figure of 52 is up 11 from the 2015-2017 Parliament. This includes the first female Sikh MP, Preet Gill, to be elected to Parliament.

LGBTQ+ MPs 45/650 (6.9%)

Conservatives - 19

Labour - 19

SNP - 7

Overall this is a 40% increase from the 2015 election when there were just 32 LGBTQ+ members. Now, 1 in 5 SNP members of Parliament are LGBTQ+.

MPs with a Disability

Whilst there are no specific figures on the number of disabled MPs, there has been an increase in the 2017 Parliament. Labour has 2 new MPs in the Commons with disabilities, one of whom is Marsha de Cordova who is registered blind. Conservative MP Robert Halfon was also re-elected who suffers from Spastic Diplegia, a form of Cerebal Palsy.

A Look at the New Intake 

The 2017 election saw a significant influx of new MPs; 99 parliamentarians join the new parliament, 32 Conservative, 51 Labour, eight Liberal Democrat, four Sinn Féin, two Democratic Unionist Party, one Plaid Cymru and one Scottish National Party.  Of the 99 newly elected MPs, 87 of them have been elected for the first time.

Gender

Out of the 99 newly elected MPs, 36 are female. When looking at the party specifics there are seven Conservative, 22 Labour, four Liberal Democrat, two Sinn Féin and one Democratic Union Party female MPs.

A record number of Welsh female MPs have been elected as 11 of 40 (28%) are women; of those 10 are Labour and one Plaid Cymru. The Conservatives in Wales are yet to elect a woman as an MP.

Ethnicity

Parliament now has the most number of black and minority ethnic (BME) MPs than ever before. The 2017 general election saw 10 new MPs from non-white backgrounds being elected, making it the most diverse parliament yet. New members of parliament include four black women, Kemi Badenoch, the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP for Peterborough, Labour's Eleanor Smith for Wolverhampton South West, and Marsha de Cordova, the Labour MP for Battersea.

The election also saw the first ever female Sikh MP (Preet Gill in Birmingham Edgbaston) and the first turban-wearing Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who won the seat of Slough for Labour elected to parliament.

The Liberal Democrats have gained their first ever BME female MP. Layla Moran for Oxford West and Abingdon is the UK’s first woman MP of Palestinian descent. She joins the 51 ethnic minority parliamentarians elected in the election.

Backgrounds

The Sutton Trust carried out research into the educational backgrounds of those elected in the 2017 parliament. The research found that there have been changes in the educational backgrounds of those elected. The 2017 parliament has seen the percentage of MPs in the three main parties who are privately educated at a historical low.  In the 2017 parliament, 29% of MPs were found to be educated privately compared to about 7% of the population, 18% attended grammar schools, and 51% state comprehensives. The proportion of privately educated MPs is at a record low. Although the number of privately educated MPs is gradually decreasing, the MPs are still far more likely than their constituents to have been privately educated. 86% of MPs are university graduates, 23% went to Oxford or Cambridge, 29% went to non-Oxbridge Russell Group universities and 33% went to other universities in the UK. 11% of MPs hold a postgraduate qualification.

Interesting facts about the new MPs

● Angus Robertson lost his Moray seat to the Conservative candidate and former professional football referee, Douglas Ross. His referring position has got him into trouble before as once, as a Member for the Scottish Parliament, he missed a committee meeting to referee a Champions League game between Sporting Lisbon and Real Madrid.

● Rosie Duffield stunned many political commentators by winning the seat of Canterbury, traditionally a Conservative-stronghold. This made her the first ever Labour MP for the constituency and caused Julian Brazier, who had the MP since 1987 to be dramatically unseated.

● Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP for Gower, is a former Welsh women’s international rugby player

● In the new Parliament there are now 26 MPs called John.

Smallest Majorities:

One of the smallest majorities in UK parliament’s history was achieved in the 2017 election. In the seat of North East Fife, the SNP candidate, Stephen Gethin won with 13,734 votes – only two more than the Liberal Democrat candidate Elizabeth Riches.

There were a number of other micro-majorities during the election. Pete Wishart, of the SNP, won Perth and North Perthshire with a majority of only 21, Newcastle-under-Lyne was held by Labour’s Paul Farrelly by a slim 30 votes, and Conservative Royston Smith took Southampton Itchen with only 30 votes as well. 

The 40,000 Club:

Several MPs saw a significant increase in their majorities which has led to the creation of a ’40,000 club’ – those seats where the victor got 40,000 votes or more. They include: 

Harriet Harman in Camberwell and Peckham (44,665)

Diane Abbott in Hackney North & Stoke Newington (42,265)

Catherine West in Hornsey and Wood Green (40,738)

Steve Reed in Croydon North (44,213)

Peter Dowd, Bootle (42,259)

Andrea Leadsom, Northamptonshire South (40,599)

Meg Hillier, Hackney South & Shoreditch (43,974)

Caroline Johnson, Sleaford & North Hykeham (42,245)

Louise Ellman, Liverpool Riverside (40,599)

Mike Gapes in Ilford South (43,724) 

Roger Godsiff , Birmingham Hall Green (42,143)

David Lammy in Tottenham (40,249)

Rushanara Ali, Bethnal Green & Bow  (42,969)

Maria Eagle, Garston & Halewood (41,599)

Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North (40,086)

Vicky Foxcroft in Lewisham Deptford (42,461)

Keir Starmer, Holborn & St Pancras (41,343)

MP4

All members of the parliamentary rock band, MP4, who were up for re-election regained their seats. Both Greg Knight, drummer and MP for West Yorkshire, and Kevin Brennan, guitarist and MP for Cardiff West, comfortably kept their seats with majorities of 15,006 and 12,551 respectively. Keyboardist and MP for Perth and North Perthshire, Pete Wishart, just managed to successfully keep his seat with a majority of just 21 votes – the second smallest majority in the 2017 Parliament. Lead vocalist, Ian Cawsey, is the only band member currently not an MP after losing his seat in 2010 and not seeking re-election since.