Still an awful lot of men. Image: Lionel Nathan de Rothschild.
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How many female MPs do we have now?

This election's seen the biggest increase since 1997 - but it's still not speeding us towards equality. 

Last night, for a brief moment, we only had two MPs: both in Sunderland, both women, and both Labour. Sadly, on the second point at least, it was all downhill from there. 

Earlier this week we predicted an increase of 45 female MPs this election on last time's total of 148. This was reliant on a roughly hung parliament between Labour and the Conservatives - something that hasn't happened. Instead, we've had an increase of 43, bringing the total to 191. 

This will leave us with a 29 per cent female party, an increase on 2010's 23 per cent: 

The lion's share of these female MPs - 99, so over half-  are Labour, making up 43 per cent of their seats. One (Caroline Lucas) is Green, 20 are SNP, and there's one each for Plaid Cymru, Independents and SDLP. The Conservative party, which will sit as the majority party in government, has 68 female MPs, who will make up only 21 per cent of their parliamentary party. Ukip, the DUP, and the Liberal Democrats have no female MPs at all.

So is this an impressive leap historically? In terms of raw numbers, yes: 

It's the biggest rise in female representation we've had since Labour stormed the 1997 election alongside 60 new female MPs. The increase this year is, once again, largely thanks to Labour's reliance on all-female shortlists. As a party, they're nearing 50 per cent female representation.

Yet even if we added 30 new female MPs every five years from now on, it will take us until 2035 for the proportion of women to hit 51 per cent (the proportion of women in the UK as a whole). And this type of rise every year is very unlikely: no parties except Labour and the SNP have voted to use all-female shortlists, and progress is sure to be slower without them.

There's also the incumbency effect: any MPs voted in before the mid-90s are far, far less likely to be women, and at this election only about 30 per cent of seats had any chance of changing hands. 

This piece is based on best estimates as of 1pm this afternoon, with seven seats still to announce. We will confirm all figures with official Parliament data later this afternoon. 

To campaign for better female representation in parliament, you can sign the 50:50 Parliament petition here

Barbara Speed is comment editor at the i, and was technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman, and a staff writer at CityMetric.

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.