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Blair Babes or Blair's Babes is a term sometimes used to refer to the 101 female Members of Parliament from the Labour Party elected to the British House of Commons in Labour's landslide general election victory in 1997, after images of the new Prime Minister Tony Blair with 96 of them on the steps of Church House in Westminster were widely publicised. According to The Times, Margaret Moran, MP for Luton South, described the "perception that the 1997 intake of female Labour MPs are all robotic clones" as "complete tosh". Moran said that she herself was not a Blair Babe, but a "Blair Witch". The columnist Polly Toynbee condemned the term as a "casual, misogynist tag."
The 1997 general election saw more women elected to the House of Commons than ever – 120, exactly double the 60 elected at the 1992 general election. Aside from the 101 Labour MPs, there were also 13 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, and three from other parties (including Speaker Betty Boothroyd, previously a Labour politician). However, many of the new female MPs grew disillusioned, and nine either chose not to stand or lost their seats in the 2001 general election. Despite two female MPs winning by-elections between 1997 and 2001, and other women being elected, the total number of female MPs fell to 118 at the 2001 general election. A further 22 stood down or lost their seats at the 2005 general election, although the number of female MPs increased again to a new record of 127.
The sociological implications of the term and the experiences of Labour's women MPs were extensively analyzed by Sarah Childs in her 2004 book New Labour's Women MPs: Women Representing Women.
List of Blair babes
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- A headline in The Sun punningly referred to "Blair's backwenchers": Drink, deception and the death of an MP, The Guardian, 6 February 2007.
- The five absent female Labour MPs were Kate Hoey, Clare Short, Glenda Jackson, Lynne Jones and Julie Morgan.
- All-women shortlists clear new hurdle, BBC News, 21 December 2001 (including iconic photograph of Blair Babes)
- Mark Inglefield. "A fair cop", The Times, London, 2 September 2000, pg. 22
- Better than men, The Guardian, 16 March 2001.
- Sarah Childs (31 July 2004). New Labour's Women MPs: Women Representing Women. Routledge. ISBN 1-135-76616-9.
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- "The Babe who fell from grace", The Daily Telegraph, 9 February 2007
- "The 'Blair babes': Where are they now?", BBC News, 8 May 2007
- Blair's Babes: Critical Mass Theory, Gender, and Legislative Life, Pippa Norris and Joni Lovenduski, 2001 (PDF)
- Social background of MPs, Parliament, Standard Note 1528, 17 November 2005 (PDF)