Does the new Parliament really represent us?

By Martha Muir

When polls closed last Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn declared that “the face of politics” had been changed. He is right in more ways than one. His party’s erosion of Theresa May’s majority defied predictions of what the electorate will vote for. However it is also a game changer in terms of who the electorate vote for.

In 2015, 41 members of Parliament were from a BME background. That figure now stands at 51, an all-time record. This includes an increased total of 15 Muslim MPs, the first female Sikh MP, Preet Gill, and the first turban wearing Sikh, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who celebrated his victory by visiting the Slough gurdwara.

There are now 207 female MPs, up significantly from 196 in 2015. However perhaps most notably, Britain now holds the global record for the highest number of LGBT+ MPs and an astounding 20% of the SNP’s cohort identifies as such. Although Sophie Cook narrowly missed becoming Britain’s first trans MP, she cut Tory Tim Loughton’s majority to 5,196 votes.

However these strides should be taken with a pinch of salt. Parliament still falls short of being truly representative of the population, as still only 32% of the Commons identifies as female. Roughly 6% of the UK population do not identify as straight, which lines up with the 7% of the MPs who do not either. Yet considering that the DUP, which has voted five times to block gay marriage and are anti-choice, are set to cooperate with the Tories in the next Parliament, it is uncertain that they will feel the fruits of increased representation.

As Parliament is more diverse than ever, the face of politics has literally changed. However it is as yet unclear if this will lead to the UK’s population feeling truly represented, even if they are on paper.

 

Photograph: UK Parliament via Wikimedia Commons

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