Letter: Blame parties for 'silly moos'

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The Independent Online
Sir: We wish to take issue with Polly Toynbee's assertion that because one third of women have not yet decided how to vote they are "floating and dithering" "silly moos" who "don't care about politics ... and don't want to know" ("Women, the forgotten voters", 24 March).

Our research, which she referred to, shows clearly that women care deeply about many pressing social and political issues and that their perspectives on a range of mainstream policy areas are being ignored by all the major parties.

Our report, What Women Want on Politics, is based on a survey of 10,000 women's views and detailed analysis of party policy. It suggests that when women are asked what they want, rather than asked to comment on existing political agendas, the issues they prioritise are significantly different from those highlighted by the parties.

Polly Toynbee finds it hard to forgive that many (older) women vote Tory. Yet the more important point (and the one politicians are finding difficult to accept) is that none of the parties is fully reflecting women's concerns, and that asking the way a woman votes does not necessarily say much about what she really cares about.

Moreover, to lay responsibility for the poll tax, Europhobia, privatised fat cats and poverty at women's door does us an injustice when those policies emanate from what remains an overwhelmingly male political system offering an ever-reduced political choice.

The puzzle remains: if politicians are concerned about wooing female voters, why are they so unwilling to address them directly, and admit publicly that women still face inequalities in many aspects of their private and public lives?



The Women's Communication Centre

London W6