Polls Suggest Nearly Half of Wales' Next MPs Could Be Women, Achieving Gender Balance for the First Time

Sunday, June 23, 2024

In a groundbreaking development for Welsh politics, recent polling indicates that nearly half of the Members of Parliament (MPs) from Wales could be women after the upcoming general election. This potential shift would mark the first time that gender balance has been achieved in Welsh parliamentary representation, signalling a significant step forward for gender equality in the region's political landscape.

Women Candidates in Wales

The upcoming election will see many women candidates from various parties standing in Wales. For the Labour Party, Anna McMorrin is running for Cardiff North, Jo Stevens for Cardiff East, Jackie Jones for Ceredigion Preseli, Gill German for Clwyd North, Becky Gittins for Clwyd East, Joanna Stallard for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Martha O'Neill for Caerfyrddin/Carmarthen, Nia Griffith for Llanelli, Tonia Antoniazzi for Gower, and Catherine Fookes for Monmouthshire. Each of these candidates brings a wealth of experience and dedication to various social and economic issues.

The Conservative Party has Amanda Jenner standing for Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare, Anita Boateng for Bridgend, and Hannah Jarvis for Blaenau Gwent and Rhymney. These candidates focus on economic development, community safety, and education.

Plaid Cymru features Ann Davies running for Caerfyrddin, Kiera Marshall for Cardiff West, and Lindsay Whittle for Caerphilly. Their campaigns emphasize rural issues, support for young people, and public services.

The Green Party has Meg Shepherd-Foster in Cardiff North, Jess Ryan in Cardiff West, and Debra Cooper in Bridgend, advocating for climate action, social justice, and public health.

The Liberal Democrats are fielding Phoebe Jenkins for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Karen Laurence for Llanelli, focusing on education reform and economic development.

The Women's Equality Party includes Nancy Cole for Caerfyrddin and Hanna Andersen for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, who are committed to gender equality, equal pay, childcare support, and combating gender-based violence.

Key Factors Behind the Shift

Dr Jac Larner from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre has analysed the latest ITV Wales/YouGov Barn Cymru voting intention poll, projecting that Labour could secure 26 out of the 32 newly drawn constituencies in Wales, with the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru each expected to win three seats. Labour's commitment to gender equality, exemplified by its candidate selection processes, has been a major contributor to this potential outcome.

Labour's use of all-women shortlists, a practice introduced to ensure that a certain number of candidates are women, has played a crucial role in promoting female representation within the party. This approach has not only increased the number of female candidates but has also helped create a pipeline of women ready to step into parliamentary roles. According to Dr Larner, this year's election could see the highest number of female MPs ever elected from Wales, setting a precedent for future elections.

Broader Trends Across the UK

While Wales shows remarkable progress, the trend towards gender balance is also reflected, albeit more slowly, across the rest of the UK. Currently, women constitute about 35% of MPs in the House of Commons, with 226 female MPs out of 650. The House of Lords, the UK's upper chamber, has an even lower percentage, with women making up 29% of its members.

Political parties across the UK have been implementing various measures to boost female participation in politics. The Labour Party’s use of all-women shortlists and the Conservative Party’s Women to Win initiative are notable examples of efforts aimed at increasing female representation. These initiatives focus on training, mentoring, and supporting women to run for political office, thereby addressing the structural barriers that have traditionally hindered women's political participation.

Despite these efforts, the UK still ranks 48th globally for the proportion of women in parliament, trailing behind countries like Rwanda, Cuba, and Nicaragua, which have female-majority parliaments. Many experts argue that adopting electoral quotas, as seen in other nations, could significantly accelerate progress towards gender parity in the UK.

High-Profile Female MPs at Risk in the Upcoming Election

As the election approaches, several high-profile female MPs from the Conservative Party face significant challenges in retaining their seats. This election cycle is expected to be highly competitive, with shifting political dynamics and strategic opposition efforts putting notable Conservative figures at risk.

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the House of Commons, holds a substantial majority in Portsmouth North but faces a formidable challenge from Labour candidate Amanda Martin, a former teacher. Despite her majority of 15,780, the national swing towards Labour and targeted local campaigning make this seat highly competitive.

Suella Braverman, the former Home Secretary, is defending a significant majority of 26,086 in Fareham. Labour, which finished second in 2019, is mounting a strong campaign to unseat her, reflecting broader trends of potential Conservative losses.

Liz Truss, the former Prime Minister, has a large majority in South West Norfolk but faces a serious challenge from Labour’s Terry Jermy. Truss’s economic policies during her short stint as Prime Minister have added to the volatility of her electoral prospects, with local opposition capitalising on her controversial tenure.

Kemi Badenoch, the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, is facing a tight race in North West Essex. With tactical voting by Liberal Democrat and Green supporters potentially playing a decisive role, Badenoch’s seat is far from secure. Labour candidate Issy Waite is reported to be just 2% behind Badenoch, making this one of the most closely watched contests in the election.

Female MPs Standing Down

In addition to those at risk, several high-profile female MPs have announced they will not be seeking re-election. These resignations highlight significant turnover and underscore the evolving nature of UK politics.

Dame Margaret Beckett, the longest-serving female MP, representing Derby South, has announced her retirement. Beckett's distinguished career includes serving as the first female Foreign Secretary and holding various ministerial roles over her decades-long tenure in Parliament.

Theresa May, the former Prime Minister and MP for Maidenhead, has decided to step down after 27 years in the Commons. Her departure marks the end of a significant chapter in British politics, with her tenure as Prime Minister marked by the tumultuous Brexit process.

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s only MP, representing Brighton Pavilion, has announced she will not seek re-election. Lucas has been a vocal advocate for environmental issues and progressive policies during her time in Parliament.

Harriet Harman, the longest-serving female MP in the Labour Party, representing Camberwell and Peckham, has also decided to retire. Harman has been a prominent figure in UK politics, known for her advocacy on women's rights and social justice issues.


The 2024 UK general election is poised to be a landmark event for gender equality in politics, particularly in Wales. Achieving nearly equal representation of men and women in Welsh parliamentary seats would be a historic milestone, reflecting broader efforts and trends towards gender balance across the UK. However, the election also presents challenges for several high-profile female MPs, highlighting the competitive and evolving landscape of UK politics.

As the UK moves towards the general election, the focus on gender representation continues to be a critical issue. The potential for a gender-balanced Parliament in Wales is a testament to the progress made in promoting female participation in politics, but it also underscores the ongoing need for systemic changes to ensure equal representation across the UK.

For more detailed information on the upcoming general election

Mary Diggory