British Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 455–480 | Cite as

‘Stand by your man’: Women's political recruitment at the 2010 UK general election

  • Jeanette Ashe
  • Rosie Campbell
  • Sarah Childs
  • Elizabeth Evans
Original Article


The year 2010 constituted a favourable opportunity for the greater descriptive representation of women in the UK Parliament. The parties were publicly competing over the issue; Parliament had its own Committee looking at it; and there were plenty of vacancies for candidates in each of the parties’ held seats, as many more MPs than usual stood down. The outcome was disappointing. There was an overall increase in the number of women MPs – up from 128 to 142 – but this was only a 2.5 per cent increase on 2005. Inter-party differences remain. The Liberal Democrats witnessed a decline in the number and percentage of their women MPs and candidates; the Tories saw a doubling of their number, with women now constituting 16 per cent of their parliamentary party; and Labour has both the largest number and percentage of women MPs. These patterns are best explained by the parties’ different attitudes towards equality guarantees – measures that, all other things being equal, return women MPs to Parliament. In other words, Labour's All Women Shortlists once again delivered. The other parties’ efforts were simply less efficient at translating women candidates into MPs. Looking to the future, the picture is far from rosy. The Coalition's plans for political reform will likely increase competition for selection at the next general election to women's detriment, and the impact of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority raises the possibility that their supply might decrease too.


women's representation 2010 general election political parties 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanette Ashe
    • 1
  • Rosie Campbell
    • 1
  • Sarah Childs
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Evans
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Politics and Sociology Birkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Department of Politics and International RelationsKingston UniversityUK

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