by Benjamin Kentish @BenKentish
First Published: Saturday 10 June 2017
Parliament now has more black and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs than ever before.
The 2017 general election saw ten new MPs from non-white backgrounds elected, taking the total in the House of Commons from 41 to 51.
While this is still only around one in 13 MPs, it means the Commons is now more diverse than in any previous parliament.
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The new MPs include Labour’s Preet Gill in Birmingham Edgbaston – the first ever female Sikh MP. Slough’s new representative, Tanmanjeet Singh, also of Labour, becomes the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit in Parliament.
The new parliament will also be more diverse than ever before in other ways. There are a record number of women – up to 208 from 191, but still only 32 per cent of the total. Four of the new female MPs are black women – a group that has traditionally been hugely underrepresented in parliament.
Labour is close to achieving the landmark of having half of its MPs being female. 45 per cent currently are, compared to just 21 per cent of Conservative representatives.
There are now more openly LGBT MPs than at any time in history. There were 32 openly LGBT people in the House of Commons in 2015 but the figure is reported to have now risen to 43.
Equality campaigners welcomed the progress but said there was still work to do.
“It’s good to see an ongoing increase in black and minority ethnic MPs, with the number now at 50,” Omar Khan, director of race equality charity Runnymede Trust, told The Independent.
“Thirty years after the first post-war BAME MPs were elected we’re getting closer but we’re not yet near a representative parliament of around 100 BAME MPs.
“Better representation is a test of the quality of our democracy and one that is particularly urgent given the increased engagement of young people – a group that is not only more diverse but also expects discrimination of whatever kind to be combated.
“One longstanding proposal for parties to reach this target would be to increase the number of younger MPs and MPs from more diverse social backgrounds, but the youth turnout at this last election may now refocus party efforts.”
Simon Woolley, the co-founder and director of Operation Black Vote, told BuzzFeed News: “I think that is a massive step forward in the right direction.
“Democracy works best when all of society feel they have a stake within it … If you don’t have diversity within parliament you cannot begin to effectively speak for the multicultural society that we are.
“It inspires many more people to engage in politics, and to believe that their voices are listened to.”