Sunday, 26 April 2015

Won't Get Fooled Again?

If you live in the UK, you might have noticed we're in the middle of election fever - politicians are stalking floating voters like zombies sniffing new blood, party leaders are being forced to leave London for strange unknown territories (the North) and promises are escalating to such a level, I fully expect to be offered a unicorn if I'd only pledge my vote (I would, trust me).  
So business as usual then? Well not quite. Politicians in the UK tend to look like they've all been churned out of the same plastics factory (also known as public school) - white, male, high-income and, let's be honest, posh. However, one area at least seems to be changing and nowhere more visibly than in our recent televised debates which really were a triumph for the heel-wearing, accent wielding, scratch me and you'll find someone who's heard of social justice variety of political animal. Yes, that would be women and poor Ed just didn't get to play...

So, we're on the podium and we're about to hit the ballot boxes - women, are you ready to be wooed? It's a deliberate choice of words - academics have commented on the romantic language often employed by political parties to divest women of their vote (see, you can make anything sexy if you try). And, although research is still  debating whether there really is a straight-forward gender gap in the way men and women vote, the political parties definitely see the women's vote as something to chase.

Now, it's nice to be wanted and it certainly makes a change from attitudes in less-enlightened times. Women make up 52% of the UK's electorate, we're apparently twice as likely to be undecided voters and we're horribly under-represented in Parliament: since 1918, there have been 370 female MPs elected, in the 2010 House of Commons alone there were 502 male MPs, it's not great maths. So you'd think a huge amount of thought would go into intelligent ways of getting female voters engaged...oh the march from hope to reality.

I'm not going to argue with each of the party's manifestos where I'm sure great plans are promised: life is too short, I'm not a floating voter and, realistically, I question how many people read them. I'm going to take my cheap pot-shots at the more visible side of the campaigns.

I live in Scotland therefore I can't pass up an opportunity to laugh/sob again at the patronising depths the Better Together campaign (no links, the video will tell you all you need to know) sank to in their pre-Referendum broadcast. It's hard to believe that there is almost 100 years between the little gem below and the anti-suffragette poster...

Previous UK elections haven't been much better - the Worcester Woman of 1997 was irritating but paled into insignificance against 2010's Mumsnet Election and then we get to 2015 and the Labour Party's latest wheeze...
It's a pink van, a Barbie-pink van hitting the road to help the girlies learn all about that scary politics thingApparently hoardes of female party workers are going to cartwheel out of the back, like some high-school parody of the A-Team. They'll be festooned in tampons, wearing flowery Doc-Martins and a Boden cardigan (got to appeal across the board) and exhorting us to get some gender-free nuts.
Looking forward to seeing this in Glasgow...

The next few weeks are going to be testing and I have a feeling this election won't be one where ranty, whiskey-drinking, left-wing women suddenly become the go-to female stereotype the parties are all fighting over. Left to entertain myself, therefore, I thought I'd have a bit of fun and, rather than go historical with my recasting, find tv characters to match one women from each of the four key parties. I leave you to guess who'll be getting my vote...
Theresa May is my starting point on the basis that the only way is up. Oh Theresa, how the Daily Mail loves your predilection for a leopard-print kitten heel and the way your replicant stare switches to laser-beam mode at the merest hint of an immigrant. A Tory politician firmly following in Thatcher's lead who doesn't so much kiss babies as snack on them for breakfast. Who else could play her but that terrifying Lady Macbeth in the sharpest stilettos Claire Underwood from House of Cards? I'm pretty sure the carefully modulated use of the verb 'wither' just lost her the Mumsnet vote...

So let's continue our progress up the evolutionary chain and land a little further to the left: the Labour Party's Harriet Harman. 

Harriet, you and I have had a stormy relationship: I've tried to love you in so many ways, on paper we're a perfect match but I always end up feeling cheated and, really, it is you, not me. So well-meaning and yet so irritating, you fill me full of guilt for not caring more and, to be honest, that's my mother's job not yours. So who else could play her but Downton Abbey's very own busy-body Isobel Crawley - never quite as clever or as popular as the Dowager, destined to spend her days sniffing at life and as easily replaced as forgotten. Time to get back on that bus.

If you've ever wondered who you'd want in your lifeboat after the Titanic or at your side with a plan to get out of Pompeii (no? What do you do with your days?) then I've found your answer - the Green Party's Natalie Bennett

Was ever a woman more suited to the word capable and I mean that as a compliment. Unflappable, with that 'don't bother me with trivialities, I'm off to have a word with Climate Change' stare. Can't you picture her striding across the country, little green shoots appearing in her footsteps, ready to deck the naysayers with a well-aimed tinnie? So it her recast has to be the rather-marvellous Chummy from Call the Midwife, a woman who could sort out a breech-birth with one hand and control a scout-troop with the other while aiming a saucy wink at her terrified husband. She'd get my...

Oh Natalie, you nearly had me and then, like Athena bursting out of the head of Zeus (ok Alex Salmond but you get the drift), Nicola Sturgeon waved her saltire in the air and Scotland started dancing. There are many theories about Nicola's current wave of popularity but I'm going to sum her up in one word and that's canny which broadly means shrewd, clever, steady and gentle. There's something to be said for remembering where you come from, when you come from where most of the rest of us live. It's very easy to find a tv match for Ms Sturgeon as she's picked her own - Birgitte Nyborg from BorgenNyborg is apparently based on Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidtdaughter-in-law of Neil Kinnock the one-time leader of the very Labour Party Nicola is about to annihilate. Canny choice Nicola, very canny.

Whatever your political persuasion, we have women to vote for, something our suffragette sisters could only have dreamed off. I wouldn't presume to tell you where to cast your vote - just make sure when you weigh up the different leaders all dangling before us like the choicest chocolates in the box you go a little deeper than the spin...



  1. Despite the fact that I don't have a vote here, I was chuckling right along until I got to Eva Braun. "Any negatives, Eva?" [still laughing like a maniac...]

  2. Her timing with that line is comic genius, gotta love a Psychobitch!


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