The Tories spend a lot of time and money scratching their heads about why women voters are deserting them. Today we were dropped a little clue as to why. Andy Coulson’s GQ article contains all sorts of helpful advice for the Prime Minister including this nugget:
‘There are few people in Number Ten with a better eye and [Samantha Cameron] could play a key role in the winning back of female voters. As a small example Sam would, I think, agree that when her husband talks about the importance of family he should be careful to include the words ‘single’ and ‘parent’ each and every time.’
We’re back to the rather amusing problem that politicians suffer from of assuming that all women think the same on every issue and base their votes solely on the fact that they are women and on how a particular party’s policy will affect them as a woman. Just imagine a meeting of the Quad, with Sam sitting demurely at the edge of the table. The men grumble about ring-fences and the defence budget. Then the Prime Minister turns to his wife and says ‘darling, what do women think about Trident?’ Or later, at a Cabinet meeting, William Hague briefs ministers on a recent diplomatic meeting, then turns to the PM’s wife, and asks ‘Sam, what do women think about Palestine?’ As a woman, Sam Cam could clearly answer on behalf of her entire sex because we all think the same, don’t we?
Forget pollsters who can tell you what young mothers might think about a childcare policy, or what older high-earning women might think about drug policy. All you need is just one woman who can tell you what all female voters think!
The Tory party could do with a few more women in it, for sure, but things haven’t got quite so desperate that they need to call the wives in to work out What Women Want.
Coulson’s suggestion betrays who he really means when he talks about ‘the winning back of female voters’. He says Sam could point out that the Prime Minister also needs to talk about single parents when speaking about marriage. So there we are, back at the assumption that all female voters are in fact women in their late twenties or early thirties with young children.
P.S. As well as this being a stupid way of working out What Women Want, as Pete Hoskin points out on ConHome, it would hardly undermine the impression of a chumocracy at the heart of Number 10.