This photograph of the Coalition Government front bench in the House of Commons is likely to become iconic. Surely Private Eye will shortly use it as a front cover with wicked speech bubbles added. The row of men – and no women – could easily be sixth-formers at a leading public school about to attend their final speech day. Or members of some exclusive men-only club. In the United States they would be called “good ol’ boys”.
The further reason why the image will become iconic is that it demonstrates in vivid detail why the Conservative Party has trouble attracting women voters. A recent YouGov survey for the ConservativeHome website showed Mr Cameron achieving a series of poor scores when voters were asked to rate his “understanding” of certain classes of people. He obtained relatively low ratings out of 10 when respondents were asked how well he understood women, single parents, small-business people, ethnic minority voters, northerners, gay people, pensioners, people living in high crime areas, public-sector workers and those “struggling to make ends meet”. In each case, his rating was significantly worse among women than it was among men.
This photograph prompts a further question. How many of the ministers sitting there have done anything else in their lives but politics? Typically they will have gone straight from university to the research department of the Tories or the Lib Dems. Then they will have joined a think-tank and after that become a special adviser to a minister. Some of them will have taken a slight detour via PR.
And there, most prominent of all, is the Prime Minister himself – Eton, Oxford, Bullingdon Club, Conservative research department and PR. Yes, it is a picture to savour.