Leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Kingston and Surbiton recently told LBC that women “quite clearly” can have a penis.
How will I stand up for the women in Kingston Borough?
It starts with knowing who a woman is. After a lifetime of lived women’s experiences from puberty and periods to ‘Working Girl’ big hair and shoulder pads, sexual harassment in the workplace, ambition and a glass ceiling, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and breast feeding, children and family, the housewife penalty and pension deficit and getting back into the workplace … nobody knows better what we go through as women.
Although women are actually 51% of the population (and in Kingston 51.8%) we are actually 54% of the vote. we live longer, older people are more likely to vote, and interestingly, we go to prison less. The Average Voter in the Royal Borough of Kingston is a Woman.
Women are more likely to be swing voters, and make up their mind just before the election.
They are more likely to say they are not interested in politics - and yet they have very strong opinions on policy – ask women on the doorstep about education, health, housing, childcare, family, social welfare and the cost of living – you will find women better informed than their other halves. In the US topics such as abortion rights and gun control have a huge female vote weight.
The women’s vote is also shaped by age, education, class, race and diversity, and their lived life experience is not homogenous. Especially age which is the new dividing line of how people vote and overtakes gender. Older voters are more likely to vote Conservative – and more likely to vote. Young women under 25 are more likely to vote liberal (labour plus LD) by a staggering 75% women to 58% men. When linked to education which is another dividing line especially with the young, a university background is a key determinant of voting liberal especially amongst women which spells out clearly the influence of liberal ideology on campus.
Women do like to see female candidates but there is no evidence that voters will cross party lines to vote for them, think Theresa May, and some male politicians are more likely to attract or repel women voters. We think back to the dark Brown years followed by the lighter aspirational Cameron-Clegg coalition, and we can see immediately how the female approval ratings impacted the election result. Women’s perception of integrity, trust and authenticity carries a significant influence, look no further than the fate of Ed Miliband, Corbyn and more recently Boris.
How do women vs men see Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, Sadiq Khan and Ed Davey? We asked men and women how well they are doing and who would they prefer to see as leader. Our Kingston and Surbiton survey says men and women’s views on Rishi vs Keir are comparable – but how much of this is down to undiscernible differences between them on policy? Men and women are also united in giving a poor score to Sadiq. But when it comes to Ed Davey, there is a definite uplift in the approval ratings of women vs men. That said, I have received personal letters from Lib Dem voters who tell me that they are dismayed that Ed’s views on gender undermine the status of a woman.
But are women more likely to vote for people or policy? Often the most vote mobilising force is not a positive image but a vote against a policy that they hate. I got into politics in 2015 to campaign against Labour’s Mansion Tax. Despite the enormous impact of Gender Pay Gap policy for women and work, I don’t know any woman who voted for Theresa May because of it. Remain and Leave votes in the 2019, a second referendum in all but name, was a dominant factor in voter choice with a 61% majority Remainer profile in Kingston voting Lib Dem. We are facing another hugely divisive policy right now as the Labour Mayor of London forces through his ULEZ extension tax on non-compliant vehicles which disproportionately impacts women who are more likely to be carers, nurses, teachers, and low-income workers who cannot afford a new car or the daily charge to drive to work. Women’s preferences can change elections.
How does party image impact women’s voting? Are women more likely to vote Lib Dem because they are disillusioned with politics and feel it is the least-worst option? Do they vote Lib Dem, guilt-driven to feel better about themselves, virtue signalling to their peer group a set of liberal values? Nationally men are 2% more likely to vote conservative. Do women vote Lib Dem to avoid being associated with the Conservative brand? Lib Dem literature thrives on tarnishing the Conservative brand, blaming them for global factors beyond their control and as the party of government, for making real and difficult choices on humanitarian issues such as immigration and being fair on the taxpayer and communities. Do Lib Dem voters really prefer the image of Labour but believe that Labour can’t win here? How will that change with Corbyn out of the frame?
But Lib Dems have flatlined around 10% of polling for over 5 years – even through the cost-of-living crisis caused by Covid and Ukraine. Out of 650 seats they have just 15 seats, up from 11 won in 2019 – less than SNP and the same as independents. Nationally they have no voice so aren’t they a wasted vote? Or as a vote for a conservative opposition, aren’t they just a posh Labour vote for a Labour prime minister?
In 2015 David Cameron’s Compassionate Conservative Big Society leadership resonated in SW London especially with women. As a Compassionate Conservative on Community issues, I would like to offer the women of the Royal Borough of Kingston a Conservative Choice that will give them a real compassionate voice in parliament.
In Kingston Borough 7.7% of women are unpaid carers, 4.5% are widowed and 7.8% are a divorced single parent; 47% of us are married or in a civil partnership and approximately 66% of us are working. Women disproportionately carry the burden of caring which may prevent them from working and earning.
As a mum myself, I follow women’s interests on health, education, family, childcare policy and household finances with a keen interest. I have been a school governor lead on safeguarding issues and the pupil premium; I have been a trustee at Home Start and seen first-hand the disadvantage within our diverse community especially in young families struggling to cope. I have campaigned to extend the parent-infant premium to young families, and I have submitted policy proposals on childcare. I have volunteered with City Harvest to redistribute unsold food from supermarkets to solve hunger in the community. I am currently a trustee at Kingston Charitable Foundation which focuses grants and fundraising on vulnerable groups within our community. I am volunteering for Kingston Hospital Emergency department. I believe passionately in the Big Society and the Shared Economy, being deeply involved in the community to understand the needs and to represent them.
I support the government’s recent extension of means tested childcare to 30 hours and I support the government’s £94b Cost-of-Living support for low-income families, pensioners protection, disability claimants and raising the national living wage for young people while providing all households with fuel and energy support and councils with £2b of extra funding to meet cost of living needs. The Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson said, ‘it is hard to say, without tax rises, they could do anything more generous than is currently planned’.
As a conservative I believe in the importance of work both for us as individuals and for the economy. My career in business development for Mars and the RAC and a Logistics Plc with an MBA has provided me with a strong commercial outlook. As a mentor for young women at the Princes Trust for over 20 years I have helped women to develop their confidence in business. I believe that winning back financial independence is key for women. I have written policy proposals on getting women back into the workplace after childcaring responsibilities with a second internship known as a ‘Returnership’ now published on the government website and seen first-hand the impact this can have on women’s financial security and status. Thinking about getting back to your career? https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/returner-toolkit-helping-you-back-to-work/returner-toolkit-helping-you-back-to-work
Being a member of Kingston Chamber of Commerce has also been an amazing connection into our local business community with fantastic events like the Future of Work and Networking events.
Despite women’s natural majority in the population, we are massively under-represented in Parliament at are only 34% women. Women’s lived experiences are different from men and that’s why we need more representation in the House of Commons. I am here to represent women’s experiences and needs for the Royal Borough of Kingston and will stand up for our traditional values and our needs and our rights and our opportunities.
Please write to me with your stories and questions firstname.lastname@example.org