Blair's efforts to woo female voters fall flat
Sunday 14 February 1999
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.
Royal Marine Sgt Alexander Blackman jailed for life for the murder of Afghan insurgent
Ja Rule forced to deny leaving wife for prison cell mate
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
More than 200 flights delayed and cancelled at Heathrow as air traffic control problem affects airports across Britain
Crash pilot who threatened Ukip leader Nigel Farage found dead
- 1 Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >
£34999 - £43001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 firm in ...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C++ Software E...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus + 28 days holiday: Harrington Starr: Java In...
£40000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus + 28 days holiday: Harrington Starr: Senior ...