Mumsnet/Mori report on Women Voters

(69 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 15-Sep-13 09:10:54

Just a quick heads up about a project we've done with Ipsos Mori that gets some coverage in the Sunday Times today (£). For a while there's been a fair bit of talk both about David Cameron's so-called women problem and how important the female vote is going to be come this election.

So we teamed up with Ipsos MORI to delve into the subject a little bit more. The folks at MORI have conducted national, weighted polls examining women's feelings about about each of the main leaders and parties. Meanwhile we've been conducting a qualitative online focus group of 100 Mumsnet users to interrogate those feelings in a bit more depth.

There's lots of juicy stuff in there - in truth all the party leaders seem to have "room for improvement" in women's eyes. Do have a look and let us know what you think.

BoffinMum Mon 16-Sep-13 22:42:57

It would help if there were a few senior women politicians around saying useful things. Currently we only seem to hear from Ms Truss and May, both of whom come across as rabid and bonkers. I can't even think of anyone in the shadow cabinet who is female and noteworthy. It's as though women suddenly became irrelevant after 2010.

Harriet Harman?

::shudder::

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 17-Sep-13 01:19:32

In a way I think the saddest part is that less than half the women thought any of the party leaders were at all interested in things that affect women.

Moistenedbint1 Tue 17-Sep-13 07:47:36

Not wishing to be blunt, but mumsnet isn't exactly representative of women a whole.. The user base/demographic here is and has always been overewhelmingly leftist (esp. Labour), white, middle-class, university educated..

Moistenedbint1 Tue 17-Sep-13 07:51:25

You seem to be forgetting Maria miller elephants... Minister for women and equalities..

woollyideas Tue 17-Sep-13 08:16:03

...and Nadine Dorries.

It is just beyond me how we've ended up with a government (and opposition, for that matter) which is so completely out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. How can toffs like Cameron and Osborne have any insight into the lives of other people?

Like other posters, I find the concept of 'women voters' being separate and different from other voters to be deeply suspect.

BoffinMum Tue 17-Sep-13 08:40:26

Moistened, Conservatism embraces a lot of different political positions, so there's going to be an overlap between the (technical definitions of) Left and Right in terms of how different MNetters see themselves. Which is where parties are having problems pinning people down. You can be pretty right wing and think it's commercially inappropriate to sell off the Post Office at the moment, for example. And you can be left wing and want to see Child Benefit reformed. It's big tent stuff.

BoffinMum Tue 17-Sep-13 08:41:01

Ohhhh, Nadine Dorries. How did that happen?

ButThereAgain Tue 17-Sep-13 09:13:00

I'm guessing that since the research was done in conjunction with MORI, Moistenedbint1, they used whatever industry-standard devices are always used by professional pollsters to eliminate that sort of bias in their sample? In any case, the poll itself wasn't conducted by MN, I think, just the qualitative, focus group element?

I keep pondering this question:

Given that women are systematically disadvantaged in society and in the political process, it makes sense that a primary political identity for women is as women -- it should have a salience that the identity "man" lacks because it defines a group whose disadvantage is the proper target for political action. Viewing ourselves as women, and being viewed as such by political parties is the right thing to do, because it make disadvantage visible. So why do I feel so alienated when the Tories and the LibDems look at me as "a woman voter" as part of their project of addressing the "woman problem" that this research seems to reveal?

It's an issue across the board for any disadvantaged group: You have to embrace the identity under which you are disadvantaged, in order to campaign for change and in order to assert pride and pleasure in an identity that you have been taught to denigrate, but in doing so you risk reinforcing your place in a ghetto and your status as the other.

That is an unavoidable tension, and I suppose I just don't trust a bunch of men to deal with that tension properly -- especially after that episode in which some of the few women in the LibDems' corridors of small power faced being groped on the way in and out of the meetings in which they served as fig leaves for the sheer maleness of party politics.

In principle, being targetted as women voters could be liberating and progressive, but in practice it is just ghettoizing, othering when it is undertaken by such a woman-excluding bunch. The LibDems Great School Uniform Initiative the other day reminds me of that old Carlsberg advert where a bunch of men load up a truck with lager and then proudly hold up a bottle of naff sherry as "something for the ladies." (They then have to unload the sherry because the overloaded truck tips over -- a perfect image for the way in which women have suffered more than men from the truck-unloading of austerity politics.)

A related problem is that the political parties, unlike special issue groups, are supposed to aggregate our various political identities, and to aggregate a range of political concerns under a coherent political philosophy. But they seem increasingly to lack any integrated approach. Policies don't stem from substantial core ideals, they are piecemeal, a response to the imperatives of getting elected. Parties throw out enticements to various demographics without a guiding philosophy. So the identities they cater to are fragmented, and the bribed identity "woman" doesn't stand much chance of being integrated into an overarching, unmarginalised political identity.

Moistenedbint1 Tue 17-Sep-13 09:20:32

Boffin' of course someone will always buck the trend.. But, on the whole I'd still say that advocates or adherents of either party are typically distinguishable. One is often anti-capitalist, pro-nationalization, places emphasis on the"big-state", is in favour of multi-culturalism, redistribution of wealth and secularism while the latter favours free market economies/capitalism, pushes for caps on immigration, is patriotic, more devout etc. Generally speaking its pretty apparent..

Lioninthesun Tue 17-Sep-13 09:48:06

I think part of the reason we now find being labelled 'women voters' by the politicians today is because they have sold us out so many times. The label has become useless, in terms of the politicians don't do anything to make our lives better. It feels like a negative to be a 'woman voter' even before you begin, as there is little in their plans for us to pick through that actually may affect women in the future.

minidipper Tue 17-Sep-13 09:51:02

Is it still, though, Moistened? I think people's patterns of thinking are changing. The parties themselves have changed so radically since the seventies (when I was growing up and the division you've described was so clear). Since the parties have stretched and bent their boundaries and their ideals so much, I think voters have less rigid divisions too.

It took me ages to realise I simply no longer fitted a party-political set of received ideas. Largely socialist but with a couple of life choices (private education being one) which most people think of as antipathetic to socialist ideals. I no longer care that my own beliefs don't fit the mould. I don't feel guilty or a sellout for having chosen private education for my kids. But equally, I'd re-nationalise all service industries in a flash, whack up taxes on the highly paid, put vastly stronger workers' rights in place, and if I ruled the world I'd do away with for-profit organisations full stop - lots of hard core 70s socialist ideas.

There is no longer a party I feel allied to. I despise the Labour Party since Blair took over. Thought he was a snake from the start and that he dismantled socialism very much in a similar way to the way Thatcher dismantled society and killed in an entire young generation any sense of service and empathy towards others.

I have no idea how to vote now. Greens probably, which is a wasted vote in our Conservative stronghold area. Usually I vote Lib Dem. They sometimes get in and they are great locally. But we need cohesive national politics. I feel a bit ashamed voting for whoever serves our local community best when the country itself has shifted so far to the right on social welfare that it's getting ugly.

It's time new parties were created, surely, which are no longer split along the old dividing lines but take a fresh look at how Britain is today and how it needs to be governed in the future.

All I have to say is that I agree with the others who say we're sick to death of being lumped under "women voters" as if we were some homogeneous minority.

I'm a fucking person, a human being, and I have had enough of being marginalised because I happen to own a vagina.

FannyFifer Tue 17-Sep-13 09:54:06

I was in one of the groups for this, I am pretty easy to spot as not many Scots.

I gave up after the first round of questions tbh as none of if was relevant to me whatsoever.

I feel absolutely, completely removed from Westminster politics.

It makes no difference what we vote in Scotland or what our MP's vote against or for.

Most recently 79% of Scottish MP's voted against privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Only 4 MP's from Scotland supported the bedroom tax bill, 79% of Scottish people hit by this are registered disabled.

The Eton educated prats are everything I despise about politics, they are so far removed from normal folks they may as well live on the moon.

Inertia Tue 17-Sep-13 13:51:32

ButThereAgain's post bears repeating:

I think it's more that women have a David Cameron problem

When there is a problem around women (leaving aside the fact that women are not a homogeneous group) disagreeing wholesale with policies of Government, the women are not the problem.

The policies are the problem.

I think it's well established that women - particularly those with disabilities, families, caring responsibilities and/ or low incomes- have been disproportionately affected by this Governments desire to sanction/punish/starve out of existence anybody who needs any kind of support from the state.

When the election is called, I will vote whichever way I can - without going even more racist/ disablist than the current Government- to get rid of this bunch. No matter what presentational spin they put on things, nothing will gloss over the fact that Cameron and Osborne are sitting on multi-million pound family fortunes made from tax avoidance while they preside over agencies which declare thousands of people fit for work shortly before they die. They have focussed everybody's hate on the meagre benefits given to those most in need, while diverting attention away from the handouts/ tax breaks which favour Tory supporters and the vast sums of money wasted on their pet projects and back-door privatisation.

Like many others, I was duped by Clegg- the LibDems had policies I agreed. However, since becoming Cameron's lapdogs part of the Coalition, the LibDems have sold their souls down the river. Nobody will trust anything they say ever again. It wouldn't be so bad if they'd fought for their key policies and been defeated- they just rolled over without a whimper.

I have no voter allegiance anymore. Blair killed socialism, New Labour was not a socialist party. Miliband is just a cartoon facade, he has no policies. I want to vote Labour, I want to believe in a fairer system for all, but Miliband is giving us absolutely nothing to work with.

passedgo Tue 17-Sep-13 13:58:33

I think the female vote would be gained by dealing with issues that affect children, all children.

We are usually the ones to take our children to the doctor (and visit GPs ourselves) yet due to recent changes, liberating GPs from targets, we have a situation where you can't get an appointment from exactly two weeks from the day you call, and if you don't call before 8.30 and wait in the phone queue for 10 minutes you will have to wait until the next day to make and appointment.

Tony Blair was pointed this out on a TV show by a member of the public. The next week he changed it and we started to see appointments within 3 days. Tories lift the ruling (whatever it was) and have regressed by 10 years. Little things like this make a huge difference to the health of our families.

So deal with the NHS and women will be happy. We largely don't care about equal rights of access to be builders and whether or not someone touched our bum on the tube. It's their loss if they want to behave like twats or don't want to employ us. But when it comes to our childrens health (and wellbeing in the wider sense) you have to get your act together.

Also child protection in the wider sense (including FGM, and internet law) is an issue which has to be dealt with, many of us feel very strongly about this and it seems men just don't seem concerned. As a consequence the power structures, largely invented, shaped and guided by men, have failed too many children. I believe that women are unique in that we feel protective about all children, not just our own.

passedgo Tue 17-Sep-13 14:04:34

btw I vote Labour (made the mistake of voting Libdem last time) and will continue to do so. Christ knows why I'm helping David Cameron with his Women's Problem. I think his women's problem is that he isn't one.

JennyCornish Tue 17-Sep-13 14:53:59

Great research - very interesting! I had my say on the Telegraph women's page...http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10313142/Five-reasons-why-women-and-especially-mothers-dont-like-David-Cameron.html

passedgo Tue 17-Sep-13 16:50:20

I've no idea where the Telegraph got their ideas from, but that's not exactly representative either. Makes women sound like a bunch of reactionary professionally offended types.

His blundering comments are just him. He's a bloke, a posh one, so what. How many holidays he has had and the fact that he can't say 'breast' without giggling is par for the course. As you can see from most of the posts on here, we are interested in policies, not niceties and to assume otherwise is just sexist.

ButThereAgain Tue 17-Sep-13 17:21:17

Latest LIbDem panicky act of voter bribery aimed at women is free school lunches for infants.

I feel a bit tainted by offers like this flung out in the build-up to an election, when policies better targeted at the poorest have been so comprehensively undermined for the last 3 years.

if this is their response to "the women problem" they won't get very far with me.

And it annoys me that that Telegraph piece refers to the irritation of "mummy bloggers" at the absence of childcare funding for SAHM. I don't think that is on many people's radar (outside of Land of Blog). The same restructuring of childcare subsidy showed itself to be disadvantageious to the poorest. Many women care about social justice, not me-first caslculations of interest.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 17-Sep-13 18:29:54

Oh, I thought the free school lunches thing was actually something that had been piloted in some areas, and found to be far better/efficient than means testing. More "good for children and alleviating poverty" than "sop to women". Unless only women care about children of course?

It was trialled but usually as part of a range of new ideas and a new superhead. I'm sceptical that "just food" can cause a sea change, regardless of my theoretical support for universal school meals.

ButThereAgain Tue 17-Sep-13 19:02:19

It was trialled by Ed Balls under Labour, but a million initiatives have gone by the board since then and I don't recall any commitment from the coalition to adopt the measure until now. Coming on top of LibDem's announcements of cheaper school uniforms and charging for plastic bags it does seem like one more nervous sop to the voters of 2015 rather than part of any coherent approach.

In the context of the Labour govt, universal free school meals did seem to have the merit of efficiency and avoiding free school meal stigma. But now, after so many cuts and after the abandonment of the principle of universality, I absolutely don't see this as anything other than a bribe. It seems random, panicked. £600m conjured up for the conference season. It is possibly well spent on this, but where has it come from, when the cuts have been so devastating.

Sparrowp Tue 17-Sep-13 19:41:37

ButThereAgain - I can answer that one. Its come from cutting off my jobseekers allowance for three months and making me homeless by cutting my housing benefit by half.

Thanks for that chaps! Oh but do enjoy your massive millionaire's tax breaks!

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