Sophie Jarvis

Why are women turning away from the Tories?

Blue leaflets emblazoned with middle-class men standing near bins and schools  will soon be strewn across doormats from Chelmsford to Cumbria. Yes, it’s local election time. Much of the talk has been over how the Conservatives – and Labour – will be punished by voters over Brexit. But a recent poll shows that the Tories have another major problem to add to their woes: winning over female voters.

Only eight per cent of young women say they will vote Conservative, whereas 68 per cent of young women will opt for Labour, the poll for Onward reveals. This compares to 22.3 per cent of young men who said they’d vote for the Conservatives in the next election. For those who have been to a Tory party conference, this won’t come as much of a surprise: you only need to look around the hall to know that Tory boys easily outnumber Tory girls. But why are women turning away from the Tories? And what can they do about it?

The party’s perceived ineptness at supporting women hardly helps. For a start, little progress has been made in reducing childcare costs, which have soared under the Conservatives. Only six per cent of women across all ages think the Conservative party handle the question of childcare best, according to the poll; nearly three times as many – 15 per cent – think Labour would do a better job.

When UK childcare costs are among the highest in Europe, this lack of faith in their party shouldn’t be a shock to Tories. In the UK, there must be one child minder per four children (for those aged two and under). In France, this ratio is eight to one and in Sweden they don’t even have a limit. This strict rule in Britain pushes up costs.

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