Labour is wise to target the Mumsnet vote

Attack ad highlights Tory plans to cut tax credits.

Unable to match the Conservatives' billboard blitz, Labour has taken to Mumsnet in an effort to woo female voters away from David Cameron. The attack ad (see screen grabs, below) targets Tory plans to scale back child tax credits and warns mothers that they'll "get less than they bargained for" if they vote Conservative.

George Osborne promised in his party conference speech to save £400m by scrapping "tax credits to families with incomes over £50,000". But the Institute for Fiscal Studies last week calculated that such a cut would save only £45m. For Osborne to save £400m, the IFS worked out, he would need to lower the threshold to £31,000, not £50,000.

Mumsnet 1

Labour's decision to target female voters through the campaign is a canny move. It was the defection of women from the Tories that handed power to Labour in 1997, and that secured the party's re-election in 2001 and 2005.

Mumsnet 2

At the last election, 38 per cent of women voted for Labour, compared to 34 per cent of men. Without female voters, Labour's majority in 2005 would have been 23 seats, rather than the 66 it actually won. Women are one of the key groups yet to be won over by Cameron: a recent ComRes poll gave Labour a 4-point lead among female voters.

Mumsnet 3

As the economy begins to recover, the Tories' plan to curb middle-class welfare could well turn out to be a vote loser. Expect Labour to use this line of attack repeatedly in the election campaign.

Mumsnet 4

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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After a year of chaos, MPs from all parties are trying to stop an extreme Brexit

The Greens are calling for a cross-party commission on Brexit.

One year ago today, I stood on Westminster Bridge as the sun rose over a changed country. By a narrow margin, on an unexpectedly high turnout, a majority of people in Britain had chosen to leave the EU. It wasn’t easy for those of us on the losing side – especially after such scaremongering from the leaders of the Leave campaign – but 23 June 2016 showed the power of a voting opportunity where every vote counted.

A year on from the vote, and the process is in chaos. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The Leave campaign deliberately never spelled out any detailed plan for Brexit, and senior figures fought internal battles over which model they preferred. One minute Britain would be like Norway, then we’d be like Canada – and then we’d be unique. After the vote Theresa May promised us a "Red, White and Blue Brexit" – and then her ministers kept threatening the EU with walking away with no deal at all which, in fairness, would be unique(ly) reckless. 

We now have our future being negotiated by a government who have just had their majority wiped out. More than half of voters opted for progressive parties at the last election – yet the people representing us in Brussels are the right-wing hardliners David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.

Despite widespread opposition, the government has steadfastly refused to unilaterally guarantee EU citizens their rights. This week it has shown its disregard for the environment as it published a Queen’s Speech with no specific plans for environmental protection in the Brexit process either. 

Amid such chaos there is, however, a glimmer of hope. MPs from all parties are working together to stop an extreme Brexit. Labour’s position seems to be softening, and it looks likely that the Scottish Parliament will have a say on the final deal too. The Democratic Unionist Party is regressive in many ways, but there’s a good chance that the government relying on it will soften Brexit for Northern Ireland, at least because of the DUP's insistence on keeping the border with Ireland open. My amendments to the Queen’s speech to give full rights to EU nationals and create an Environmental Protection Act have cross-party support.

With such political instability here at home – and a growing sense among the public that people deserve a final say on any deal - it seems that everything is up for grabs. The government has no mandate for pushing ahead with an extreme Brexit. As the democratic reformers Unlock Democracy said in a recent report “The failure of any party to gain a majority in the recent election has made the need for an inclusive, consensus based working even more imperative.” The referendum should have been the start of a democratic process, not the end of one.

That’s why Greens are calling for a cross-party commission on Brexit, in order to ensure that voices from across the political spectrum are heard in the process. And it’s why we continue to push for a ratification referendum on the final deal negotiated by the government - we want the whole country to have the last word on this, not just the 650 MPs elected to the Parliament via an extremely unrepresentative electoral system.

No one predicted what would happen over the last year. From the referendum, to Theresa May’s disastrous leadership and a progressive majority at a general election. And no one knows exactly what will happen next. But what’s clear is that people across this country should be at the centre of the coming debate over our future – it can’t be stitched up behind closed doors by ministers without a mandate.

Caroline Lucas is the MP for Brighton Pavilion.

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