Blair's efforts to woo female voters fall flat

TONY BLAIR is still "unappealing" to women - despite the Prime Minister's efforts to woo female voters, Labour's private polling has found.

The Government will next week launch a "listening to women" roadshow, with ministers touring the country canvassing opinion, in an attempt to combat these overwhelmingly negative views.

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 held across the country have repeatedly found that Mr Blair is perceived to be "out of touch" and "remote" from ordinary people. Women have commented 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 be worrying to the Prime Minister, who is acutely aware of the importance of female voters. Before the election, Mr Blair was said to have flattened his bouffant hairstyle as part of 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, the Prime Minister appointed a minister for women to sit at the Cabinet table in an attempt to prove his commitment to female voters since coming to power. The Government has 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 New Labour 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 than women.

Baroness Jay and Tessa Jowell will next week launch a campaign to get women more involved in the process of government. They are planning to hold public meetings around the country to ask women, particularly those who would not normally get involved in politics, what they would like the Government to do on issues such as health and education. They are also planning to send postcards out through women's magazines, such as Chat and Marie Claire, which will allow readers to send in their ideas to the Government.

The women's unit is planning 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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future