Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Desert Blair as Polling Day Looms

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Women Desert Blair as Polling Day Looms

Article excerpt

Byline: By Hannah Davies

The female vote could prove conclusive in the General Election, with polls suggesting women have turned against Tony Blair. Hannah Davies speaks to eight women to see what issues will influence their vote on May 5.

Since the days of the `Blair Babes', women have been seen as central to the Prime Minister ( and Labour's ( positive image.

Around 80pc of women intend to vote in next week's General Election. But with a poll this month suggesting less than one in 10 women want Tony Blair to serve a full third term as Premier, if he is re-elected on May 5, the indications are his relationship with Britain's female voters may have soured.

This is despite Blair's government being credited with bringing many more women into politics through the introduction of all-female shortlists for MPs.

According to an ICM poll out this month, almost a third of voters ( 29pc ( say Blair should quit now.

And a poll of 600 readers carried out by Cosmopolitan magazine, showed over a third of young women planning to vote at the General Election are undecided which party to opt for.

Another poll of 4,000 women by website iVillage.co.uk, found that nearly a third of females do not believe any of the three main political parties is in tune with the issues which are important to them.

Opposition to the war in Iraq, doubts over crime, worry about the state of the NHS and anger at university tuition fees are election issues which continue to crop up among the key policies influencing their vote.

The iVillage poll also found women voters are either abandoning the Labour Party or planning to stay at home on polling day.

Charles Kennedy is by far the most popular party leader with women, out-ranking Blair and Michael Howard by more than 20pc, scoring 30pc of the vote on sincerity and 35pc of females believe consistency is his main attribute.

Tracey Williams, iVillage.co.uk's editor-in-chief, says: "We found a huge number of women disillusioned and confused and simply lacking the time to wade through the political material with which they are presented."

Blair recently compared his relationship with the electorate to a stormy marriage where crockery had been smashed.

To find out if the pieces can be stuck back together The Journal spoke to eight women at Washington's Bridge project. …

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