Women have been worse hit than men by the Government's austerity measures, David Cameron admitted yesterday as he offered a personal mea culpa for disparaging remarks that he made about two female MPs.
Polls show that support for the Tories among young female voters has dropped by 10 per cent since the election and approval ratings for the Government among women have plummeted. Acknowledging this, Mr Cameron said women had borne the brunt of public sector pay freezes and job cuts and accepted that his personal tone could be perceived as sexist.
"This Government has to do difficult things," he said. "I think that's probably had an impact on families and on many women and that causes great concern. We've got to do better at explaining why this is necessary."
Mr Cameron apologised for previous comments in the House of Commons when he told Labour's Treasury spokeswoman Angela Eagle to "calm down, dear" and appeared to belittle one of his own MPs, Nadine Dorries. "If I offended anyone, I am hugely sorry," he said. "What I find frustrating is that I'm not a sort of 'All right luv, I'm down at the pub tonight' whatever. That's not me. But obviously I've come across in this way."
Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, said: "Women will not accept this apology unless it comes with a U-turn on cuts to childcare and on threats to maternity leave."