The BBC is reporting that, as well as unemployment reaching 1.92 million in November (which means it’s well over 2 million, now), the ‘downturn’* (its infantile name for the ‘recession’ – just like parents use the word ‘pee’) is ‘hitting women harder’, according to a report from the TUC, which found that:
the redundancy rate among women had risen by 2.3%, almost double the rate for men, since last year.
It said more women were in work and more households depended on a woman’s wage than in previous downturns.
It also found many job losses were occurring in retail and hospitality, where more women than men work.
The study, published ahead of Wednesday’s unemployment figures which are expected to show another big rise in the jobless total, also found women now earn more than men in a fifth of couples.
The Labour Government has been panicking, saving men’s jobs in automotive in its marginal seats, but is missing the wood for the trees. It’s ignoring women’s jobs which it just lets go without even a fear for the economic, social, or political consequences.
Remember, it was the ladies (e.g. Worcester women) who largely voted Blair in.
While in the latest Times/IPSOS-Mori opinion poll, 45% would vote Tory compared to 31% Labour, only 28% of women said they’d vote Labour, while 43% plumped for the Conservatives.
Men have now caught up with women in the big 5% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, but it is women who are ‘hardest hit’ – and, in households where the woman fears for her job and doesn’t expect any help from the Government – the man (and the kids) will suffer too. Men say: mess with our women and we won’t vote for you either.
* Which the BBC will upgrade to ‘recession’ this Friday when the growth figures are released.
The great Kathy Staff has sadly died. We never found out the politics of her character on Last of the Summer Wine, but I’m willing to hazard a guess that Nora Batty (the fictional character, not the actress) was a Tory and that she would have had none of Gordon Brown’s financial & economic nonsense – and that she would have seen our hapless PM with one swoop of her broom.
Ms Yvette Cooper isn’t a Northerner herself: she’s a public schoolgirl who neither understands economics (despite – or because of – being Chief Secretary to the Treasury Numbskulls), nor has any of the financial nous that characterise tough Northern ladies like Mrs Batty.
Labour is doing very badly with women in the opinion polls (around 10 – 12 points (or more) behind the Tories). In particular, Labour’s advantage in the North is not as good as it should be, and the explanation is quite simple.
In earlier posts, I highlighted (a) how Northern & Scots men aged 35-55 and on benefits were flocking back to Labour; and (b) why the Tories need a Northern strategy. I managed to offend Kerron Cross (and no doubt other people) with my Rab analogy, but I was just trying to make a point and I apologise if anyone else was offended.
More recent opinion polls have generally confirmed the trend, and though there are no specific figures, it’s fair to say that in the North (whether we are talking about Sunderland, Darlington, parts of Yorkshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, or wherever) Labour will not have as easy a time electorally as one would expect. Particularly in Greater Manchester, given plans to ignore the congestion charge referendum and press ahead with the scheme.
Once the Tories get their economic strategy – and their Northern strategy, just as importantly together – they will be able to pick off a number of key Northern marginal seats largely on the back of working-class Northern women. Let me empahasise that I’m not characterising Northern women as Nora Batty, but my point above is that she would have seen off Brown with her broom.
And when it comes to the next general election, it will be working-class Northern women who do see off Brown – with one swoop of their metaphorical broom, the vote that women fought so hard to win – and they can make a difference to all our futures by ousting this dreadful Labour Government.
While some sections of the electorate have fallen for the Labour tax con and the apparent “Save the World” reincarnation of Brown, working-class Northern women have not. It was they (and particularly Catholic women) who, more than any other group, gave Labour the boot in Crewe & Nantwich by switching to the brilliant Tory candidate Edward Timpson. I remember one such lady on the doorstep in Crewe who told how Brown’s economic policy, including rising food and petrol prices and the abolition of the 10p tax rate, were affecting her and her family – and why she was voting Tory for the first time.
One key element of the Tory Northern Strategy (and their broader economic strategy), therefore, has to be to connect with working-class Northern women in such a way as to reassure them that, while Brownian economic policy means debt and disaster, the Tories’ means prosperity and plenty.
The latest Populus poll for the Times has Con 39%, Lab 35%, LD 17%.
But, as the detailed figures show, amongst men it’s Con 38%, Lab 35% but women are Con 41%, Lab 32% – with the Tories around 20 points ahead in the South, Wales/SW, and the Midlands, and Labour well ahead in the North and Scotland. As a writer in the Salisbury Review observed a few years back, the Conservatives need a “Northern Strategy” (á la Nixon’s phenomenally successful Southern Strategy).
I’ve argued before that it’s less a Brown bounce, than an Osborne bust. The Osborne effect, but also worryingly more widely the malaise that has fallen the Tories on matters economic (and especially fiscal), has allowed Labour to claw back a considerable portion of its former support.
Whenever the General Election comes, and Brown must surely be weighing up his chances next spring with this latest ‘vindication’ (or vindictive?) poll, the Labour Party is going to offer 4-5 years of the same as we’ve had over the last 11. And that is not good for Britain – a surefire way of breeding more Karen Matthewses and more tragedies like the death of Baby P.
Ed Balls (with Mandy spinning away in the background, doing more damage than even he did in Brussels) has carefully transferred the blame to the hapless Sharon Shoesmith. Yes, it happened on Ms Shoesmith’s watch – and, whilst it was the murderers who killed Baby P, it wasn’t social workers (who are being increasingly demonised in the name of political expediency, exacerbating the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession).
It’s partly ideological, but it’s also systemic, and it’s a polical failure (as Camila of Kids Company has argued), which means that many Social Services departments are rotten to the core. But, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the even more hapless Government and the clearly out-of-his depth Mr Balls.
At the same time, Labour looks in a better position in the polls when it has overseen 11 years of economic (eventually after the apparent but false ‘boom’) and social (drip-drip-drip) collapse.
It’s time for a change but a large part of the population doesn’t yet realise it. But then, whatever happens, as they used to say in the States, the “welfare checks [sic] will keep comin’.”
One way that the Tories could kickstart a “Northern Strategy”, which is doable as they won the otherwise inpregnable Labour stronghold of Crewe & Nantwich in May this year, is to bring back David Davis who appeals to Northerners like the Oxbridge boys don’t. The next step, just as they did beautifully in Crewe, would be to tell the people of the North what the Tories can do for them economically and socially. Voilá.
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