The Prime Minister’s spin flies in the face of his government’s anti-women policies, says ANN McKECHIN
So the polls have finally forced David Cameron to acknowledge that he “must do better” with women if he’s ever to achieve his ambitions of a majority Tory Government.
Cameron’s admission to Andy Marr on Sunday however won’t ring true with Scots women who are more angry at his policies than his patronising presentations, and rightly so.
While it’s true his behaviour in the chamber at Westminster has at times been boorish, inappropriate and – yes, condescending, even to members of his own party -it’s his Coalition’s cuts which are turning women voters right off the Tories, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The Fawcett Society reported earlier in the year that single mothers are the section of society worst hit by the cuts introduced by the UK Tory-led Government, estimating that single mums will lose an average 8.5 per cent of their income after tax by 2015.
Independent research has also shown that George Osborne’s tax and benefit changes are hitting women hardest, showing that men on average lose £4.20 a week, while women on average lose £8.80 a week. This is despite the fact that women still earn less and own less than men. Cuts to child tax credit, child care tax credit, the recent public sector pension reforms, child benefit, housing benefit and attendance allowance are all hitting Scottish women harder.
A government that claims to stand up for families, and claims to want to see as many people in jobs as possible has put up incredible boundaries to working women by removing Labour measures like child care tax credit, which helped thousands of women back into the workplace. And let’s not forget this is the party whose own advisers have even considered scrapping maternity pay.
Elsewhere in the labour market, the STUC has released figures pointing to an increasingly bleak picture of more and more women seeking employment in Scotland. The number of women JSA claimants increased by 18 per cent over the year to April 2011, while over the same period, the number of men claiming JSA fell by 4 per cent.
As the full time employment deficit – now standing at over 17 per cent – grows, the chances of employment for women in Scotland decrease as more men are forced to take the part time and temporary jobs that women previously occupied.
Mr Cameron may well change his rhetoric to appeal to women, but until he changes his policies, he’ll be facing a long road back to majority government.
Ann McKechin is the Labour MP for Glasgow North and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland.