The 2017 General Election saw 42 former MPs stand to regain seats in the House of Commons, 32 of whom were defeated in 2015 (or 2016 in the case of Zac Goldsmith). 12 former MPs were returned to Parliament following the Election.

Liberal Democrat fightback?

The majority of the 32 defeated in 2015 who ran for re-election in 2017 were Liberal Democrat. 20 former Lib Dem MPs stood again for the Party in 2017, and 4 won back their seat – Sir Vince Cable, Sir Ed Davey, Jo Swinson and Stephen Lloyd. Of the 16 who were unsuccessful, the closest to a return to Parliament was Andrew George, who was defeated in St Ives by 312 votes.

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Ward stood in his former seat of Bradford East as an independent. He finished third, ahead of the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Green Party.

Old MP, new seat

Although most former MPs stood again in their former seat, six contested in pastures new. This included George Galloway, formerly Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin and Respect MP for Bradford West and Bethnal Green & Bow. In 2017 he stood as an independent in Manchester Gorton, finishing in third, ahead of the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Green Party.

In addition to George Galloway, Ian Davidson (formerly Labour MP for Glasgow South West) stood unsuccessfully in Berwick, Roxburgh & Selkirk and John Grogan (MP for Selby until 2010) won Keighley for Labour from the Conservatives.

The sitting Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who lost the Labour whip in the last Parliament and stood in 2017 as an independent, was defeated by Labour candidate Tony Lloyd (formerly MP for Manchester Central). Lloyd had previously stood down as an MP in 2012 to contest the Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner election.

Former Minister Esther McVey successfully stood in George Osborne’s former Tatton seat, having previously been the MP for Wirral West. The Conservative MP for Tatton from 1983 to 1997, Neil Hamilton, stood for UKIP in the Welsh constituency of Carmarthenshire East & Dinefwr, where he came fourth.

Narrow majorities

Some of the former MPs standing again lost out by the narrowest of margins in 2015. Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew lost by 530 votes in 2015 to the Ulster Unionists in Fermanagh & South Tyrone. She won back the seat in 2017, with a larger, albeit still narrow, 875 majority.

For Labour, Chris Williamson overturned a 2015 majority of 41 to retake Derby North and Chris Ruane overturned a 237 majority in Vale of Clywd. However, Julie Hilling was unable to overturn a majority of 801 in Bolton West, which was held by the Conservative’s Chris Green.

Conservative former MPs trying to overturn small majorities were largely unsuccessful in 2017. Eric Ollerenshaw and Paul Uppal both saw Labour majorities in Lancaster & Fleetwood and Wolverhampton South West increase in 2017. This trend was even more pronounced in London – Nick de Bois was unable to overturn a 1,086 majority in Enfield North, seeing it rise to 10,427, with similar increases in Brentford & Isleworth for Mary Macleod (465 to 12,182) and Lee Scott in Ilford North (589 to 9,639).

Zac Goldsmith bucked the trend of other Conservative former London MPs, winning back the Richmond Park seat he lost in a 2016 by-election to the Lib Dems (Goldsmith stood as an independent in 2016, but was unopposed by the Conservative Party).

Old foes

The election in Enfield North was the fifth time that Nick de Bois had competed with Labour MP Joan Ryan for the seat. De Bois won in 2010, whilst Ryan won in 2001, 2005, 2015 and 2017.

The voters of Stroud had a similar sense of déjà vu in 2017, as they saw former Labour MP David Drew take on sitting Conservative MP Neil Carmichael in Stroud for the fifth time. Drew retook the seat in 2017, having previously won in 2001 and 2005. Carmichael had won the seat in both 2010 and 2015.

Land’s End to the Hebrides

There was a significant geographical spread of former MPs standing again, from Land’s End in the St Ives constituency to the Isle of Mull in the Argyll & Bute constituency (both of which saw former Liberal Democrat MPs fail to win back seats lost in 2015).

Former MPs were returned in all four nations of the UK – 9 in England, Jo Swinson (Lib Dems) in East Dunbartonshire in Scotland, Chris Ruane (Lab) in Vale of Clywd in Wales and Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin) in Fermanagh & South Tyrone in Northern Ireland.

Although there was a large geographical spread, 10% of the 42 contests involving former MPs took place in four neighbouring South West London constituencies: Kingston & Surbiton, Brentford & Isleworth, Twickenham, and Richmond Park.

The full list of former MPs returning to Parliament in 2017 is as follows:

Chris Williamson, Jo Swinson, Stephen Lloyd, Michelle Gildernew, John Grogan, Sir Ed Davey, Zac Goldsmith, Tony Loloyd, David Drew, Esther McVey, Sir Vince Cable, Chris Ruane

To read more analysis of the election download the House of Commons Library 2017 General Election briefing paper.

Picture credit: Houses of Parliament at dusk, London, UK by Eric Hossinger.  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)