There is only one independent MP in parliament

House Of Commons

In amongst all the different party colours of the 2017 cohort of MPs, just one has no party line.

Independent MPs, representatives that do not belong to any particular party, have been a relatively small feature of UK parliamentary democracy, with the concept of independent representatives more prominent in local democracy.

A strong argument in favour of such representatives is that arguably they can better represent the wishes of constituents by being more flexible on issues without facing the consequences for failing to toe the party line.

Excluding the Speaker, the only independent MP elected in the 2017 general election was Lady Silvia Hermon.

Lady Hermon is a Northern Ireland unionist who left the Ulster Unionists in 2010 over a party pact with the Conservatives, according to the Guardian. She won her seat, North Down, in 2010, then again in 2015. In 2017, she retained her seat with 41% of the vote with the DUP just behind her on 38%.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the UK’s only independent MP, voted against the bill that paved the way for the government to start the process of leaving the European Union.

In the previous parliament, Lady Hermon was the only elected independent MP, but the SNP’s Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry left the party whip and became independent MPs, and Douglas Carswell, who was elected under the UKIP banner in 2015, left the party to sit as an independent.

Is there support for independent MPs?

The Independent Network is one organisation that believes in supporting independent MPs as they are somewhat disadvantaged due to lack of party resources.

The Network recently formed a political party in order to “gain the same legal benefits as the main political parties”, according to its website.

As for public support, an old ComRes poll from 2010, commissioned by Ekklesia, showed that half of voters in Scotland thought that “more independent MPs would strengthen democracy”, according to the Network.

Should there be more independent MPs?