General election 2019: Class of 2017 | IPT

This blog post provides a summary of the outgoing Parliament including insight into the gender, age, ethnicity and occupational backgrounds of the Members of Parliament (MPs) elected at the 2017 general election.

2017 General Election

The 57th Parliament was elected on 8 June 2017 and saw turnout across the UK of 68.8%. This was a slight increase from 66.2% in 2015 and the highest general election turnout since 1997.

The 2017 general election resulted in a hung Parliament, with no party securing an overall majority. The Conservative Party won the largest number of seats and votes, claiming 317 seats and 42.3% of the public vote, up from 36.8% in 2015. However, despite their increased vote share, they lost 13 seats and their overall majority. The Labour Party’s vote share also improved from 30.4% in 2015 to 40.0% in 2017. The two-party Conservative and Labour vote share was its highest level since 1970, claiming 82% of the vote share between them.

Political Party Seats returned in the general election
2017 2015
Conservative 317 330
Labour 262 232
SNP 35 56
Liberal Democrat 12 8
Democratic Unionist Party 10 8
Sinn Féin 7 4
Plaid Cymru 4 3
SDP 0 3
Ulster Unionist Party 0 2
Green Party 1 1
Independent 1 1
Speaker 1 1
UKIP 0 1


Composition of the House of Commons

The 2017 election saw the Conservative Party lose their overall majority and resulted in the second hung parliament since 2010. Unlike in 2010 when the Conservatives entered a formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats, they negotiated a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland. With the DUP’s support, the Conservatives’ minority government had a working majority of 13[i].

The 57th Parliament saw considerable churn amongst party ranks. In February 2019, 8 Labour MPs and 3 Conservative MPs resigned to form Change UK, a new political grouping. Several of these members have since joined the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems also gained from Phillip Lee’s dramatic crossing of the floor during a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and wiping out the slim Conservative majority.

In September 2019, 21 MPs were dramatically suspended from the Conservative Party for defying the party whip during a vote against no-deal Brexit. This included prominent MPs like the Father of the House Ken Clarke, former Chancellor Philip Hammond, and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. Several weeks later, 10 of those 21 MPs had the whip restored. When parliament was dissolved on 6 November 2019, the Conservatives and Labour both had 19 fewer MPs than June 2017, while the Liberal Democrats had gained an additional eight.

Political Party HoC composition at dissolution on 6 November 2019
2019 Change
Conservative 298 -19
Labour 243 -19
SNP 35 0
Independent 23 22
Liberal Democrat 21 9
DUP 10 0
Sinn Féin 7 0
Independent Group for Change 5 5
Plaid Cymru 4 0
Vacant 2 2
Green Party 1 0
Speaker 1 0

 

Characteristics of MPs

Gender

There were 208 female MPs elected at the 2017 general election (32% of all MPs). This is the highest ever number and proportion. As a result of by-elections, there are currently 211 female MPs and 437 male MPs (there are two vacant seats for John Bercow and John Mann).

There are significant differences in gender representation between the parties:

  • Green Party – 100% female MPs
  • Independent Group for Change – 60% female MPs
  • Liberal Democrat – 50% female MPs
  • Labour – 47% female MPs
  • Sinn Féin – 43% female MPs
  • SNP – 34% female MPs
  • Plaid Cymru – 25% female MPs
  • Conservative – 20% female MPs
  • Democratic Unionist Party – 10% female MPs

Party

Number of female MPs

Percentage of MPs that are female

Green Party

1

100%

Independent Group for Change

3

60%

Liberal Democrats

10

50%

Labour

115

47%

Sinn Féin

4

43%

SNP

12

34%

Plaid Cymru

1

25%

Conservative

60

20%

Democratic Unionist Party

1

10%

 

Ethnicity

52 MPs elected in 2017 were from non-white backgrounds, 8% of the total parliament. This is still below the UK population level of 14%. This is an increase from the last parliament where there only 41 non-white MPs and was the highest recorded figure.

Age

The average age of the 57th parliament was 51.1 years old, an increase from 50.6 at the 2015 election. 53% (344) of MPs were aged over 50. Following the election, the proportion of MPs aged 70 and over increased to 4% (28). 13 MPs aged under 30 were elected, 2% of the total.

LGBTQ

The 2017 election saw the highest ever record figure for LGBTQ MPs with 45 MPs elected who were openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer (LGBTQ), 7% of the total.

New MPs

87 MPs elected in 2017 had no previous Parliamentary experience (13%). 551 (85%) had been MPs in the 2015-17 Parliament, while 12 were re-elected having served as MPs in the past.

Occupational backgrounds

31.7% of MPs elected in 2017 had an occupational background in politics prior to their election. This was the largest occupational grouping in the parliament.

The next largest grouping was business/commerce with 23.8% previously working in the sector. The majority of those 155 MPs with a business background are concentrated in the Conservative Party with 120 MPs.  

Only 7 MPs came from a manual background, a significant decrease from 1979 when 98 MPs were manual workers. Relatedly, 82% of MPs elected in 2017 were graduates, an increasing trend since 1979.

2017-2019 Parliament: Occupational backgrounds of MPs[*]
Sector All MPs All MPs % Con Lab SNP Lib Dem DUP Sinn Féin Plaid Cymru Other []
Politics[]

 

206 31.70% 77 91 13 2 10 7 3 3
Business/Commerce 155 23.80% 130 15 6 4 - - - -
Law 66 10.20% 38 25 1 2 - - - -
Education 31 4.80% 6 20 3 2 - - - -
Journalism/Media 18 2.80% 10 6 1 1 - - - -
Manual 7 1.10% 2 4 1 - - - - -
Health 21 3.20% 9 10 2 - - - - -
Armed Forces 4 0.60% 2 2 - - - - - -
Trade Union 30 4.60% - 30 - - - - - -
Agriculture 6 0.90% 6 - - - - - - -
Voluntary 39 6% 5 32 2 - - - - -
Lobbyist 24 3.70% 19 5 - - - - - -
Other  43 6.60% 13 22 6 1 - - 1 -


By-elections

There have been 5 by-elections since the 2017 general election: Brecon and Radnorshire, Peterborough, Newport West, Lewisham East, and West Tyrone. These seats were held by the party elected in 2017, with the exception of Brecon and Radnorshire which the Liberal Democrats gained from the Conservatives with a majority of 1,425.

Constituency

Reason for by-election 

Date of by-election

New Member

Brecon and Radnorshire

Successful recall petition against Chris Davies 20-Jun-19

1-Aug-19

Jane Dodds (Liberal Democrat gain)

Peterborough

Successful recall petition against Fiona Onasanya 1-May-19

6-Jun-19

Lisa Forbes (Labour hold)

Newport West

Death of Paul Flynn 17-Feb-19

4-Apr-19

Ruth Jones (Labour hold)

Lewisham East

Resignation of Heidi Alexander 9-May-18

14-Jun-18

Janet Daby (Labour hold)

West Tyrone

Resignation of Barry McElduff 16-Jan-18

3-May-18

Órfhlaith Begley (Sinn Féin hold)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

The 2017 general election resulted in a minority government with the Conservatives supported by the DUP. Over the course of the 57th parliament, the high number of party defections and suspensions resulted in increased instability with government suffering its largest ever defeat when Theresa May’s Brexit deal lost by 230 votes. It was the most diverse Parliament ever with the highest proportion of female MPs, ethnic minority MPs and LGBTQ MPs.


Sources:

https://members.parliament.uk/parties/Commons?fordate=2019-11-05

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7483#fullreport

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7979

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46879887


[*] MPs’ occupation immediately prior to their election

[†]Other includes the Speaker, the Green Party, and Independent MP Lady Hermon.

[‡] Politics refers to councillor or other elected office, political/social/policy research, party official, civil services or local authority.

 

[i] Government majority calculated as Conservative MPs and the DUP MPs less all other parties. This calculation excludes the Speaker, the three Deputy Speakers, and Sinn Féin’s 7 MPs who abstain.