According to today’s Times (£) Ed Miliband has identified working-class women as the key electoral battleground in an attempt to capitalise on falling support for the coalition among female voters. He’s got a point. Although Labour has maintained a consistent lead in the polls, it hasn’t been anywhere near as big a lead as we’d want, nor – given the unpopularity of the coalition, as big as it should.
But if you delve into the poll details, you’ll see that the coalition is proving to be much less popular with women voters than with men. This is an important aspect to understand: because although the Conservatives have usually enjoyed a clear advantage amongst women voters, women voters are now turning back to Labour in a way that is alarming some senior Conservatives.
Lord Ashcroft’s recent survey of voters in marginal constituencies found that women voters were more pessimistic than men about the outlook for their families and for the country. Labour’s decision to sharpen and calibrate its message for women voters is a positive sign that its leadership has recognised the opportunity that is being presented.
The Shadow Cabinet is said to be examining a list of reforms on retraining, childcare costs, social housing, salary insurance and a new scheme to encourage saving in an attempt to draw up “a new welfare state for working people” (according to the Times). With the policy review still under way, it may be some time before we get to see some concrete policy proposals in this area, but in the meantime, it is encouraging to see action underway in this area.