Wooing the Women; Polls Predict a Low Turn-Out of Women at the Ballot Box Tomorrow. So Why Should Women Vote? the Birmingham Post Asked the Three Leaders of the Main Political Parties What Benefits Women Could Gain from Their Policies

The Birmingham Post (England), June 6, 2001 | Go to article overview

Wooing the Women; Polls Predict a Low Turn-Out of Women at the Ballot Box Tomorrow. So Why Should Women Vote? the Birmingham Post Asked the Three Leaders of the Main Political Parties What Benefits Women Could Gain from Their Policies


Emmeline Pankhurst is no doubt turning in her grave at the predicted low turn-out of women voters in tomorrow's election.

Seventy-two years after female suffrage, this year's first-time voters are more likely to be filled with apathy than fuelled with ardour to make their opinion count.

A recent survey revealed that nearly half of Britain's young women, aged 18-24, are unlikely to vote tomorrow - a figure which sends a shiver through the main political parties.

In the last election it was Worcester woman and Blair's babes which made all the headlines. This time round, the three parties know they need to make - and keep - practical, female-friendly promises if they are going to woo reluctant women to the ballot box.

LABOUR

Prime Minister, The Rt Hon. Tony Blair

Women bear the brunt of family responsibilities in most homes.

They tend to do the bulk of caring, to worry about the children's pick-up from school and to take them to the doctor if they are ill.

So it's no surprise that extra support for families and children, better schools and hospitals and more help in balancing family and work are top of their agenda.

I share these priorities. And though we have a great deal more to do, this Labour Government has worked hard to give families the support and help they want.

We have given much-needed help with the cost of bringing up children. Inflation might be low but not the price of children's trainers.

So we have increased child benefit by a record amount. We've brought in the Children's Tax Credit - a tax cut of up to pounds 10 a week and the first recognition of the cost of children in our tax system for a generation.

Women have also been the biggest gainers from the minimum wage which will rise, with Labour, another pounds 16 a week in October if they are in full-time work.

And low mortgages, high unemployment and rising living standards mean all families have more money to spend every week.

But it is not just extra money in the pocket that women want. They also realise the importance of good public services for their families.

So that's what this Labour Government is determined to deliver. Infant classes are smaller with free nursery places for every four-year-old. Standards are rising in our schools.

Waiting times and waiting lists are falling in our NHS. There are more doctors, nurses and teachers. Police numbers are rising again after falling for years.

But there's a great deal more to do. We need many more front-line staff just as we need to reduce delays in the NHS and continue improvement in our schools.

That needs extra investment. We will provide it. The Tories will cut it by pounds 20 billion.

We are also going to help women better balance the stresses of family and careers.

Maternity pay will be increased and extended - and paid paternity pay introduced for the first time. But whether we get the chance to do this will be up to you tomorrow.

CONSERVATIVE

Leader, The Rt Hon.

William Hague

Women across Britain feel betrayed by the Labour Government. After four years in power, Labour's promises on hospital waiting lists have been broken, our streets feel less safe and class sizes in our secondary schools are larger. Yet taxes on hard-working families have risen hugely.

I want every woman in Britain to have opportunity and choice when it comes to finding a job. So we will help women who want to return to the workplace with our Family Scholarships. When either parent has taken time out from their career in order to care for their children, they will be able to apply for Scholarships to help fund professional training, refresher courses or a first degree.

We will also provide a new Married Couples' Allowance, worth nearly pounds 1,000 a year, where either parent chooses to stay at home to look after their children. …

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