15 MAY 2017

  • 30% of MPs likely to be women, only one more than before the election
  • Labour set to lose 27 women MPs: Conservatives set to gain 32

On the day that the final candidates are announced, new analysis for gender equality campaign charity the Fawcett Society finds that women’s representation in Parliament will flatline in the general election next month.

The analysis carried out for Fawcett by independent consultant Giselle Cory uses Electoral Calculus’s seat-by-seat prediction for Great Britain and Lucid Talk’s predictions for Northern Ireland, which based on current polling gives the Conservatives a 184-seat majority. It finds that election night is likely to see under 30% women, or 197 of 650 MPs, returned to Westminster – the same proportion as before the election. Only one more woman will sit on the green benches than before the election was called, a rise of less than 1%.

Both of the larger parties have seen slight improvements. Fawcett finds that 25% of Conservative MPs will be women, compared with 21% before the election, and with 32 more women MPs, taking their total to 102. 46% of Labour MPs will be women, up from 44% before the election, but with fewer seats overall meaning have 27 fewer women MPs.

The Liberal Democrats are predicted to have just seven MPs, of whom one is likely to be a woman, and the model predicts that 36% of SNP members and one of the three Plaid Cymru MPs will be women. Just three of the 18 Northern Ireland seats look likely to be held by women.

This picture of stagnation comes after real improvement in 2015, when Westminster went from 22% to 29% women. It leaves the UK still languishing at number 47 in the world for women’s representation in national parliaments.

Commenting on the analysis, Sam Smethers, Fawcett Chief Executive, said:

“We had feared that women’s representation would go backwards, but the concerted efforts made by both main parties to get more women in to retirement and target seats have averted that.

“Yet progress has stalled. Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, it is a terrible indictment of our democracy that we are stuck at 30% women in Parliament.

“We agree with the recommendation of the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee that 45% of each party’s candidates must be women. The time has come for a legally enforceable target to achieve the radical and sustainable change we need.”

In terms of the overall picture of candidates, regardless of whether they are likely to win, 41% of Labour candidates are women, up from 34% in 2015. The proportion of Conservative candidates who are women is 29%, up from 26% at the last election, and the Liberal Democrats have risen from 26% to 30%. The proportion of SNP candidates who are women has fallen slightly from 36% to 33%.

Download the full press release on candidates analysis here.

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