Women’s representation inches up – early estimate

// 7 May 2010

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commons.jpgThe number of women MPs has edged up, and women are likely to make up about 21.5% of the Commons, from 19.5% before the election, according to the Centre for Women and Democracy, and the Fawcett Society.

From their press release:

  • The number of Labour women has fallen from 94 to below 80 – about 30% of Labour MPs..
  • The number of Conservative women has risen from 18 to about 48 – about 16% of Conservative MPs.
  • The number of Liberal Democrat women has fallen from 9 to 7 – about 13% of Liberal Democrat MPs

These figures are provisional in that they do not include the 23 seats still to declare at the time of writing; however, statistically these seats can make little difference to the outcome.

Nan Sloane, director at the Centre for Women and Democracy, commented:

“These figures are a real disappointment and demonstrate that, despite the political parties’ efforts to increase the percentage of women MPs, no real advance has been made at this election. Indeed, had there not been an unusually high number of MPs retiring, and had there not been a relatively high number of women standing in those seats, we would have seen an actual and significant fall in both the number and the percentage of women in the House of Commons.

“In our view the time has now come for radical action – no constitutional or electoral reform will have democratic validity unless it ensures the full participation of women at the most senior levels of our political life. Until we take some clear and effective steps to rectify the position we will continue to lag behind most of the rest of Europe, and it will take decades – if not centuries – to rectify the position.”

Photo from UK Parliament, shared on Flickr under parliamentary copyright

Comments From You

Kate // Posted 7 May 2010 at 3:37 pm

We’ve lost some MPs who were good for women though sadly. Vera Baird and Jacqui Smith deserve praise for steering through the long-overdue violence against women strategy. And I will miss having Evan Harris in the House when the new Tories inevitably stir up the abortion debate.

Rose // Posted 7 May 2010 at 4:11 pm

I’ll second that, while I could in no way be considered a new labour supporter, I was glad to have Jacqui Smith so close to the top, I think she was doing good things.

Does anyone know if her work on ending ‘violence against women’ will continue in her absence?

I guesswe will have to see which (man?) MP gets her old seat. Bleak!

Antonella // Posted 7 May 2010 at 4:36 pm

Jacqui Smith doing good things? Yes, for her bank account! I am glad she lost her seat. She deserved to.

Jeff // Posted 7 May 2010 at 4:36 pm

“I guesswe will have to see which (man?) MP gets her old seat. Bleak!”

I checked and apparantly Smith’s seat was won from her by the female Conservative MP Karen Lumley. Her personal website makes no mention of Women’s Issues that I could find.

Jess McCabe // Posted 7 May 2010 at 4:42 pm

@Jeff yes, true, but the main issue is who takes on the role of Home Sec…

Jeff // Posted 7 May 2010 at 4:58 pm

Well here’s hoping it isn’t Chris Grayling, for a multitude of reasons!

Victoria // Posted 7 May 2010 at 5:04 pm

Whilst it’s great to support female politicians, sometimes we focus too much on their gender as opposed to their policies. In my local constituency we have a female tory mp, regretfully re-elected but involved in the expenses scandal and supporting the abolition of the human rights act. I’d much rather have had the male lib-dem candidate…

coldharbour // Posted 7 May 2010 at 5:14 pm

“I was glad to have Jacqui Smith so close to the top, I think she was doing good things.

Does anyone know if her work on ending ‘violence against women’ will continue in her absence? ”

Jacqui Smith voted for the British Army to bomb, murder and brutalize hundreds of thousands of Iraqi woman and girls. I wonder how many Iraqi women got raped and beaten by the ‘coalition’ forces the same way they were in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and every other country U.S. has invaded*. Oh wait, I forgot by violence against women you meant white women that live in the U.K. I keep forgetting woman of colour in developing countries aren’t human beings, sorry….

To many to count?


Shea // Posted 7 May 2010 at 5:46 pm

@ coldharbour- so did many more male and female MPs- many of whom now concede they were wrong.

And actually you would be hard pushed to find many tory MPs who voted against the invasion of Iraq. Look forward to round two in Iran, soon to follow.

Dealing with domestic violence in this country doesn’t mean you ignore women abroad. And actually I would like to point out some of the worse victims of domestic violence and honour killings in this country aren’t white at all.

Im also seconding the joy about Caroline Lucas & heres hoping for electoral reform soon. But also v. disappointed in the number of seats the Conservatives picked up. We lost our very good (male) Labour MP for a female Cons MP. I’m not impressed.

Also don’t forget that Nadine Dorries- that monster, is a female Conservative MP. Someone brighten my day by telling me she’s lost her seat? Please?

eleanargh // Posted 7 May 2010 at 5:49 pm

We finally have the first female Asian MPs – three, all Labour – which is excellent!

I’m very sad to see Evan Harris go. He has been so strong on abortion rights and I’ve been very keen on his pro-secular work too.

I was lucky enough to have three women candidates for the three major parties in my constituency. I wouldn’t support a female Tory over a male left-wing candidate, but at the hustings it was excellent and inspiring to have three relatively strong women discussing the issues. Although I don’t celebrate the election of any Tory, it is also interesting to have the second out lesbian MP in parliament.

coldharbour // Posted 7 May 2010 at 6:10 pm

“so did many more male and female MPs- many of whom now concede they were wrong.”

Quite frankly not good enough. Being responsible for war crimes of the highest order is not something you can just turn round and say sorry for, thats why we have International War Crimes Tribunals. Unfortunately the U.S. and it’s allies are the only countries that are not subject to it’s law .There were indeed only fifteen anti-war votes from the Conservative bench making them just as responsible in my book. Would you be so quick to forgive them if they had murdered the same amount of people in the U.K.? How would you feel if it was your friends and family?

S. England // Posted 7 May 2010 at 7:19 pm

The lack of analysis of this on the media I have seen (BBC and Guardian, mainly) says it all. I had to google fawcett to find the figures.

One of the reasons the Lib Dems do not do so well is their striking and completely entrenched bias against women candidates, and this goes back in my memory to the 1980’s. I wonder how much Simon Hughes has to do with it?

S. England // Posted 7 May 2010 at 7:28 pm

This is of great interest to feminists.

Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine

By Chris Cook

Published: February 12 2010 17:23 Financial Times


Rose // Posted 7 May 2010 at 10:28 pm

@Jeff – by her seat, I meant her position – who gets her power?

@Coldharbour- where to start? Violence against women in england is not just against white women. Many voted for the war – for many different reasons – I really don’t think it was a ‘pro-rape’ vote.

Yes, I’m glad to have people in high places that consider violence against women to be major issues – yes, I’m concerned that her replacement won’t be so interested.

How exactly do you jump from me saying that I support the idea of that kinda political work, (while commenting that I don’t vote for that party, ie, don’t support most of their polices), to accusing me of being a pro-war, pro-rape racist?

More generally, the only women standing in my area was for UKIP, so I voted green.

Tasha // Posted 8 May 2010 at 6:50 pm

@Shea – afraid Nadine’s still in, she’s the MP for my home constituency and we’ve been blue since 1945. Bad times :(

coldharbour // Posted 9 May 2010 at 6:15 pm

“How exactly do you jump from me saying that I support the idea of that kinda political work, (while commenting that I don’t vote for that party, ie, don’t support most of their polices), to accusing me of being a pro-war, pro-rape racist?”

If you accept the fact that Jacqui Smith was responsible for pushing through a bill that inevitably let to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of woman and girls how could you rationally come to the conclusion that “she was doing good things”? There is only on one solitary conclusion; that the fate of these woman never entered into you criteria for what constitutes “doing good things” or not. I make the plain assumption that if she had been responsible for hundreds of thousands people dying in the same bloody brutal fashion in the U.K. to people you knew or people who lived near in you it’s highly unlikely you would think Jacqui Smith was “doing good things”. From this I can only conclude that because these woman and girls live in a far of land that you’ll probably never see of worry about it’s simply not relevant to your equation about if shes doing “good things” or not; unfortunately this is the nationalist colonial mentality that gave credence to the invasion (and all the ones before and that will follow) in the first place.

Jeff // Posted 9 May 2010 at 6:16 pm


Sorry, I misunderstood. Whoever it is (and it looks likely to be a Tory) I sincerely hope it won’t be Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, he’s the fellow who backed the homophobic B&B couple and a quick look at his voting record is enough to show him as being really not the kind of person you want in that job.


Rose // Posted 10 May 2010 at 4:49 pm

@Jeff, agreed, Grayling would be dire, in any role, but I think some of the other tory’s actually said some worse stuff about LGBT people. Something to watch for, I think.


Again, I point out that I don’t vote for that party.

Indeed I don’t vote for any pro-war party.

And again, I’m not some racist psycho.

I just think that in a culure where morality is not an expected quality in a politican, you want the best of the bad lot.

I really doubt that we are about to get some moral, ethical, humane, considerate home sec., the next one could be an all out homohobia, sexist, eton……. .

My point was that having a home sec. that didn’t just think that women belonged getting beaten in the home, was a good thing. One that wouldn’t use terms such as ‘home correction’, instead of ‘domestic violence’.

I’m not saying ‘she has a vagina, ergo, she is divine’ – I’m saying that she was one of the female politicians that spoke up for women in this country, and that’s a step in the right direction. (No, I’m not saying that is the ultimate of evolution – but it is progress, progess away from the past which you speak of with hate).

Sarah // Posted 12 May 2010 at 10:51 am

Looking at the new cabinet posts here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8675705.stm, eleven white men so far, not a single woman to be seen. Surely they’re embarrassed by such a failure of diversity? I’m not surprised to see it, never thought this coalition would be a particularly pro-feminist one, but it just feels like a huge step backwards for women in politics.

Elmo // Posted 12 May 2010 at 11:47 am

nah Sarah, I dont think they’ll be embarrassed-they are Tories after all.

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