The Staggers 30 June 2015 Does David Cameron have a "woman problem"? Yvette Cooper makes great play of David Cameron's "woman problem", but it's Labour's "man problem" she should be worried about. The Prime Minister greets his "woman problem". Photo: Getty Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Yvette Cooper – increasingly regarded as the frontrunner for the Labour leadership – has a neat applause line about David Cameron having a “woman problem”. It’s smart politics: it references an achievement around which a majority of Labour activists can agree is a Good Thing (increasing the number of women MPs), reminds people of one of Cameron’s worst performances in the House of Commons (the “Calm down, dear” jibe at Angela Eagle), and strengthens her case to be elected Labour leader. Unfortunately, it’s also wrong. In 1992, Labour were defeated by women, who preferred John Major to Neil Kinnock by a ten-point margin. If women had been the only voters, the Conservatives would have a majority of over 70, against a mere 20 on the night. In 1997, under Tony Blair, the party led by 12 points among women – still slightly smaller than the 14-point lead among men. In 2001 Labour performed equally well among women voters as it did with men. But by the time of Blair’s third election victory, the process had gone into reverse. Labour started to do disproportionately badly among male voters. If men had been the only voters, Labour and the Conservatives would have been level on votes, with 34 per cent apiece, although Labour would have remained comfortably ahead in terms of seats. Among women, however, the party had a six point lead, 38 per cent to 32 per cent. Worse was to come: in 2010, the Conservatives had a ten-point lead among men, enough to put them in office. Women, however, backed Labour by 31 per cent to 36 per cent. In 2015, Labour again underperformed among men, achieving just 30 per cent of the vote. Labour can’t even be said to be doing particularly well among all women; the over 55s opted for the Conservatives by an even bigger margin than their male peers (45 per cent to 27 per cent, against 40 per cent to 25 per cent among men). That’s not to say that it would be a bad idea for Labour to pick a woman as leader. After all, the party’s forward strides among female voters occurred with a male leader – and the collapse with male voters in 2005, 2010, 2015 occured under three leaders who were all men. But it is to say that if Labour wraps itself in comforting slogans about Cameron’s “woman problem”, it will lose the 2020 election. › The last Liberal Democrat: meet Europe's lonely liberal Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!