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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

The Representation Gap

IPPR hosted an in-person panel event about representation in parliament. At this event, we heard a keynote address from the Rt Hon Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. 

This was followed by a panel discussion. Our speakers were:

  • Professor Rainbow Murray, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London
  • Michael Jennewein, Researcher for Democracy and Economics at FES Democracy of the Future - Vienna
  • Lisa Eigbadon, co-founder of Grassroots Graduates and youth advisor at Rekindle School
  • Michael Bankole, PHD candidate in the Department of Political Economy, King's College London

In representative democracies, parliament (or the legislative) determines whose ‘voices’ in democracy filter through to governance and decision-making – and whose do not.

On one hand, the social and economic background of parliamentarians has an important impact on the policy choices they make in office. One the other hand, it has repercussions for public trust in democratic politics and voting behaviour.

As recent political scandals in the UK push issues relating to political representation up the agenda, we considered:

  • How representative is the House of Commons of UK society?

  • Are recent improvements in gender and minority ethnic representation cause for celebration? Or is there more than meets the eye?

  • Why is there a growing ‘representation gap’ with regard to social class? What are the implications for policy and politics?

  • How does political representation in the UK compare to other representative democracies?

  • How can we improve the representativeness of parliament?