Categories

AOAV: all our reportsMilitarism examinedMedia, culture and armed violence

Veteran representation in new UK Parliament examined as 39 newly elected MPs have military backgrounds

The 2024 General Election resulted in 39 MPs in Westminster with military backgrounds, a decrease from the 50 MPs with Armed Forces backgrounds elected in 2019.

The Labour Party, currently in government, has 13 MPs who are veterans or reservists, constituting about 3% of their members. The Conservative Party, the main opposition, includes 17 veteran MPs, making up 14% of their cohort. The Liberal Democrats have 8 former service members, representing 11% of their MPs in Westminster. The Democratic Unionist Party has one male veteran MP.

Overall, veterans account for 6% of all MPs, a significant overrepresentation compared to their 1.5% proportion in the working-age population of England and Wales.

Within the Conservative Party, this overrepresentation is even more pronounced, with veterans comprising 14% of their MPs.

In terms of gender, of the 39 veteran MPs, 35 are male and only 4 are female. The Conservative Party’s veteran MPs are exclusively male. The Labour Party has a slightly more diverse composition with 10 male and 3 female veteran MPs. The Liberal Democrats have 7 male and 1 female veteran MP.

This highlights a gender imbalance in the representation of veterans across some political parties, though Labour’s ratio is generally reflective of the male-dominated British forces at large.

The new MPs are as follows:

Labour Party (13: 10 men, 3 women)

  • Alaba, Bayo (Southend East & Rochford) – JNCO, Parachute Regiment, Army Reserve (Male)
  • Ballinger, Alex (Halesowen) – Officer, Royal Marines, two tours of Afghanistan (Male)
  • Bailey, Calvin (Leyton & Wanstead) – Pilot, Royal Air Force (Male)
  • Carns, Al (Birmingham Selly Oak) – Colonel, Royal Marines (Male)
  • Dollimore, Helena (Hastings & Rye) – Reservist (Female)
  • Foster, Paul (South Ribble) – British Army, 15 years’ service (Male)
  • Jarvis, Dan (Barnsley North) – Major, Parachute Regiment (Male)
  • Jones, Louise (North East Derbyshire) – Officer, Intelligence Corps (Female)
  • Lewis, Clive (Norwich South) – Officer, 7 Rifles, Army Reserve, tour of Afghanistan (Male)
  • Riddell-Carpenter, Jenny (Suffolk Coastal) – Reservist (Female)
  • Stone, Will (Swindon North) – JNCO, The Rifles (Male)
  • Tapp, Mike (Dover) – Analyst, Intelligence Corps, three tours (Male)
  • Thomas, Fred (Plymouth Moor View) – Captain, Royal Marines (Male)

Conservative Party (17: 17 men)

  • Bowie, Andrew (West Aberdeenshire) – Officer, Royal Navy (Male)
  • Cleverly, James (Braintree) – Officer, Royal Artillery (Male)
  • Davis, David (Goole and Pocklington) – Reservist, Special Air Service (Male)
  • Duncan Smith, Sir Iain (Chingford and Woodford Green) – Captain, Scots Guards (Male)
  • Francois, Mark (Rayleigh and Wickford) – Lieutenant, Royal Anglian Regiment (Male)
  • Jopp, Lincoln MC (Spelthorne) – Commanding Officer, Scots Guards (Male)
  • Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest East) – Royal Naval Reserve (Male)
  • Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield) – Captain, Royal Tank Regiment (Male)
  • Murrison, Dr Andrew (South West Wiltshire) – Surgeon, Royal Navy (Male)
  • Obese-Jecty, Ben (Huntingdon) – Captain, Royal Yorkshire Regiment (Male)
  • Reed, David (Exmouth and Exeter East) – JNCO, Royal Marines (Male)
  • Shastri-Hurst, Neil (Solihull West and Shirley) – Major, Royal Army Medical Corps (Male)
  • Swayne, Sir Desmond (New Forest West) – Major, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry (Male)
  • Anderson, Stuart (South Shropshire) – JNCO, Royal Green Jackets (Male)
  • Barclay, Stephen (North East Cambridgeshire) – Lieutenant, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Male)
  • Leigh, Sir Edward (Gainsborough) – Honourable Artillery Company (Male)
  • Tugendhat, Tom (Tonbridge and Malling) – Lieutenant Colonel, Intelligence Corps (Male)

Liberal Democrats (8: 7 men, 1 woman)

  • Coghlan, Chris (Dorking & Horley) – Ex-soldier, stated to have fought ISIS in Iraq (Male)
  • Foord, Richard (Honiton and Sidmouth) – Major, Adjutant General’s Corps, Educational and Training Services (Male)
  • MacDonald, Angus (Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire) – Queen’s Own Highlanders, stationed in the Falklands and Northern Ireland (Male)
  • Maguire, Helen (Epson and Ewell) – Captain, Royal Military Police (Female)
  • Martin, Dr Mike (Tunbridge Wells) – Army, multiple tours of Afghanistan (Male)
  • Roome, Ian (North Devon) – Royal Air Force (Male)
  • Stone, Jamie (Caithness, Sutherland and East) – Private, Army Reserve (Male)
  • Thomas, Cameron (Tewkesbury) – Royal Air Force, 25 years’ service (Male)

Democratic Unionist Party (1: 1 man)

  • Shannon, Jim (Strangford) – JNCO, Ulster Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery, Army Reserve (Male)

Conclusion

The significant overrepresentation of veterans in the UK Parliament, particularly within the Conservative Party, underscores their influential role in legislative processes, especially concerning defence matters. This disparity may shape political priorities and policies, reflecting the historical and professional backgrounds of the MPs. Additionally, addressing the gender imbalance among some party’s veteran MP representation could enhance the diversity and equity of military representation in the UK’s political landscape in the future.