Gender and Politics in the media

UK: Sarah Wollaston would consider 2015 all-women shortlists. Tory party is “a boys’ public school”.

David Cameron with his wife Samantha after delivering his speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

David Cameron conference speech fails to win over women voters … The Guardian Do David Cameron‘s Conservatives have a women problem? Support for the party’s policies is dramatically lower than it is among men, according to polling before the start of conference season, and Cameron clearly has work to do to win back women. There is a 13% gap between women’s support for Labour and the Tories, four times larger than Labour leader Ed Miliband’s lead among men.

The reaction to his speech from a panel of women from the parenting website Netmums was mixed, though almost all admitted to being disappointed not to hear more about the issues that matter to them.

Women think that David Cameron is out of touch for good reason (blog) …There are two underlying issues here…actually probably just one. The most obvious is David Cameron’s problem with women voters. A Mumsnet poll has re-emphasised previous findings about women voters’ disenchantment with the PM. That follows earlier research conducted by Ipsos MORI, which shows that Mr Cameron’s five-point lead over Labour among women voters in the last general election has turned into a 13-point deficit. Since you ask, they, we, think he’s out of touch. Which he is, though probably not half as much as the Chancellor.

It’s not the House of Commons that’s “a boys’ public school”, it’s the … New Statesman Yesterday, Claire Perry attempted to make a robust defence of David Cameron’s record on women after reports that Labour has a 13-point lead among them. What she failed to recognise was the reason why women are turning away from the Conservatives in droves. When women are being made to bear the brunt of deficit reduction, with three quarters of the burden coming from the purse rather than the wallet, they are going to be angry.

And the frustrating point is not just the excuse that the House of Commons is “like a boys’ public school”. But that Perry glosses over the problem that she and other Conservatives face when talking about women and politics – that they have actually voted for the specific choices Cameron and Osborne have made which hit women’s lives the hardest.


Sarah Wollaston says all-women shortlists would address the lack of diversity among Conservative MPs. Photograph: Bob Fallon for the Guardian.

Sarah Wollaston: I would consider all-women shortlists in 2015 The Guardian Sarah Wollaston MP will support all-women shortlists if the Conservative party fails to attract more female candidates to parliament in 2015.

The MP for Totness is currently against the practice of only listing female candidates for election, calling it patronising. However, she explained at a Guardian fringe event at Conservative party conference this week that if progress on gender quality in Westminster continued to stall, she would see no option but to support positive discrimination.

There are currently just 48 female Conservative MPs, compared with 86 on the opposition benches. Wollaston wants to see women make up a third of Conservative MPs and added: “I don’t think the rest of my party will agree, but if we don’t shift it we need to do something.” The Conservatives are currently against women-only lists.

David Cameron, it’s not big. And it’s not clever. British mothers are … If there is one thing that over-worked, under-paid, under-valued, under-appreciated sleep-deprived mothers have little tolerance for, it is the daily refrain: “He started it. It wasn’t me. It’s not my fault.” So like most mums, I shake my head in disgusted disbelief every time I see the childish heckling and impolite bitching of the House of Commons or listen to yet another politician slagging off his predecessors. We face that same back chat every time we ask our kids to tidy up and hear: “But it’s not my mess!”

Women are desperate for politics to grow the hell up so we might be involved without attacking other perfectly reasonable human beings with whom we just happen not to agree. So it was with a sinking heart that I listened to David Cameron’s speech earlier today.

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