Blair flirts, but female voters remain frosty to Labour
Sunday 14 February 1999
The move follows research which has found that the Prime Minister is failing to charm women - especially middle-class, white-collar workers - because they believe he does not understand their lives.
Focus groups of women across the country found that Mr Blair is perceived to be "remote" from ordinary people. Women have said that he is "smarmy", has "no perception" of what their existence is like, and that they feel the Government is run by men for men.
The poll results will worry the Prime Minister, who is acutely aware of the power of female voters. Before the election, he was said to have flattened his bouffant hairstyle in a concerted effort to build bridges with women. Labour prided itself on having closed the "gender gap" between male and female voters for the first time in 1997.
After winning power, Mr Blair appointed a minister for women to sit at the Cabinet table to prove his commitment to female voters. The Government also unveiled a series of "female-friendly" policies, including the National Childcare Strategy and the extension of maternity leave. Baroness Jay, the current minister for women as well as Leader of the Lords, recently relaunched the "Women's Unit" - now based in the Cabinet Office - with a high-profile call for more role models for teenage girls.
However, Downing Street has been warned that these initiatives have done nothing to repair Mr Blair's relative unpopularity with women. Although the Prime Minister retains high poll results across the population, female voters complain that they do not like the "laddishness" of the administration - exemplified by the football-loving culture of the new establishment. They have also criticised the literature and leaflets produced by the Government, saying they seem aimed more at men.
Baroness Jay and Tessa Jowell will next week launch a campaign to get women more involved in the process of government. They plan to hold public meetings around the country to ask women, particularly those who would not normally get involved in politics, what they want the Government to do on issues such as health and education. They also plan to put postcards in women's magazines, such as Chat and Marie Claire, which will allow readers to reply to the Government with their ideas.
The women's unit plans to publish the results of polls, conducted by the Government's so-called "People's Panel", about the priorities of female voters. However, Labour is unlikely to make public the results of focus groups about Mr Blair's personal standing.
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 Fifa corruption arrests: Nike reported to be 'multinational sportswear company' at centre of bribery claims over Brazil shirt deal
- 3 Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
- 4 Bahar Mustafa: Goldsmiths Students' Union diversity officer to keep her job after vote of no confidence petition fails
- 5 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
Hopes raised for treatment of severe amnesia after scientists retrieve lost memory – using light
Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of a voyeuristic sex crime
Poorest part of London is wealthier than the richest parts of Northern Ireland and Wales
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
How to live to be really old
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to develop an ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...