Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sleepy Sundays with David Cameron

Sunday mornings. I don't know about you, but I tend to roll of bed, shuffle around the kitchen drinking tea and pretending to be conscious for a while, and then lazily eat breakfast while I read the magazine sections of the Sunday papers. By this point, it's almost time for lunch - yay! What I do not do, is get out of bed before 9am and hurry to switch on the Andrew Marr Show. So the fact that I was on the sofa at 9am this Sunday, BBC1 blaring, (almost) alert and bushy tailed, meant that something was afoot.

Every Sunday morning, the Marr Show hosts a dazzling array of top politicians, journos, talking-heads...and PJ Harvey, for some reason. Anyway, this Sunday was David Cameron's turn on the sofa, prefacing the start of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. 'Why was this so exciting?' you may be wondering. 'Our distinguished PM burbles endlessly; there is no deficit of Cameron-burbling; get your Cam-burbling-fix at a more acceptable time of day,' you may well cry.

via the Telegraph website; photo PA

The past few days have seen the PM and his crew go into women-friendly overdrive. They've been shouting about women from the rooftops, they've been bear-hugging single mothers, they've been kissing the babies of suspiciously influencial MumsNet bosses.

All the while, the real women of Britain have been watching with raised eyebrows. Does the government really think that saying on Sunday breakfast TV: "I'm not like that," is going to help the thousands of women who have been made redundant this year? Those who can't afford childcare and have had to quit their jobs? What about the young women, the women who can't yet vote? Who aren't one of those Tory darlings, mothers in the 'squeezed middle'? The young women of Britain who don't have the education - or the inclination! - to engage in youth politics, have no say in the governance of their country. They fall through the net. They're the ones who are unlikely to turn out at the polls every four years, who feel so estranged from society that they'll engage in mass looting. They're the ones who will suffer most from domestic abuse - 1 in 4. They're most likely to go through with unwanted pregnancies. They'll have their EMAs scrapped, their youth outreach programs scrapped, and people like Nadine Dorries are trying to intefere with their abortion counselling.

Is Mr Cameron going to apologise to young women? Is he, in fact, even going to give them a cursory glance? I'm not feeling the love, Cam. It feels like MumsNet is feeling the love, and the rest of us are left out in the cold. We don't care that you're "not that guy" at home, the sexist bully that comes out in PMQs; what we care about is whether we're being engaged in our democracy. How the state treats women is one of the most significant indicators of a society's liberalism and progression; at the moment, the state is neglecting not only women, but young women, who are a particularly easy target. Collectively, we need to encourage young women to speak up and make sure that the government, that society, allows us space on the political stage.

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