Beware the fury of the EDMs (that's East Dulwich Mummies)

Where were women in the Bloke's Budget


I have a confession to make. Like Laura Perrins, the mother-of-two who ambushed Nick Clegg live on the radio last week, I am an EDM – an East Dulwich Mummy. There are quite a few of us: we push our Bugaboos or shepherd our scooter-riding toddlers around Dulwich Park in leafy south London. We drink frappe lattes at the coffee shop and buy our globe artichokes from the greengrocers on North Cross Road (if we don't grow them ourselves). We shop at an upmarket second-hand clothes swap shop.

We are the middle-class mummy cliché. We are the distilled version of the smug mothers on Mumsnet. You may laugh at us, with our play date "business cards" ("Isobel, 3, free Mondays"). But, as the Deputy Prime Minister found out last week, you cross us at your peril.

You see, EDMs are not like their wealthier counterparts in Dulwich Village up the road, who don't notice how much the price of petrol is soaring when they fill up the 4x4 for the nanny. We live in three-bedroom terrace houses, not sprawling, detached six-bedroom mansions.

We watch our pennies, make do and mend, freecycle: walk down Upland Road on a summer's afternoon and you can kit out a child's bedroom with the second-hand blackboards, bookcases and toys that are left at garden gates.

When stay-at-home EDMs like Laura lost their child benefit because their husbands' salaries were just over the £60,000 threshold, they noticed. Now, with the new childcare tax break, they are at a double disadvantage because it is only available to families where two parents earn. All right, stay-at-home EDMs like Laura are not poor. They are not going to be hit by bedroom taxes or other benefit cuts. But they simply question why they are losing money when, for example, a working couple with a combined income of £100,000 still receives child benefit, and those with a combined income of £300,000 are eligible for the new tax break?

East Dulwich is not a disadvantaged area, but it's not well-heeled Putney, where Miriam Gonzalez Durantez buys her coffee, or Notting Hill, the old stomping ground of Frances Osborne and Samantha Cameron. We don't have Chipping Norton clout. So perhaps the three most powerful men at the top of Government aren't up to speed on what rankles with EDMs.

While I go out to work, most of the other women in my EDM circle are stay-at-home mothers. And, like Laura, they are politically aware. From the talk at our coffee mornings, I could have told Mr Clegg months ago that the Coalition has a blind spot when it comes to mothers – be it weakening childcare ratios, a policy criticised by the Government's own childcare adviser Cathy Nutbrown on Friday, cuts to child benefit and some Sure Start centres, the axing of the health in pregnancy grant and the child trust fund for all mothers, rich and poor.

To hear George Osborne use the Budget to reward those who "want to work hard and get on" made it sound as though the stay-at-homes are choosing an easy life as an alternative to the office. No wonder Laura complained that the Government is making them feel "worthless".

You might think EDMs are too well off to receive any state help. That is a strong argument. But that doesn't remove our right to be angry. And the anger shows in the polls – Labour consistently outdo the Conservatives among women voters. The Chancellor who took a penny off beer may not discriminate against women who like the occasional pint, but it did come across as a Bloke's Budget. If they are interested in staying in government, perhaps Mr Clegg, Mr Osborne or Mr Cameron would like to join us EDMs for a frappe latte?

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