By Samantha Audini-Johnson
The Labour Party on Thursday underwent a shock swing with 40% of voters choosing them. Overwhelmingly this support came from women, with 44% stating they intended to vote for Labour (Survation Ltd June 2017), in comparison to only 37% of women supporting the Conservatives.
On the other hand, May’s less than spotless record on supporting women’s rights is somewhat unsurprising due to her disinterest in being labelled a role model of any kind for aspiring female politicians or her gender in general. May’s time at the Home Office was less than a feminist utopia, with domestic violence services slashed and most notably her failure to act on the declining living conditions in Yarl’s Wood. In addition to this, the past few years have seen the closure of more than 350 Sure Start centres, which previously helped new parents to adjust. Comparatively, Corbyn has been noted by many feminist organisations for his willingness to listen to their concerns and act upon them. A prime example of this being Labour’s new Women’s Advisory Board in order to examine the way policies affect women.
The Labour Party appears to be in tune with women’s priorities. In this election, women’s top vote decider was the NHS. The NHS is overwhelmingly a Labour priority; 41% of the electorate believed a Labour government would be best at handling the NHS (YouGov June 2017). The Labour manifesto further developed and explicitly dealt with women’s concerns. An entire page of their manifesto was dedicated to women – containing pledges such as appointing a specific commissioner to tackle violence against women; incredibly important in the current climate with approximately 1 in 4 women experiencing some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
Retrospectively, it is even more understandable that women prefer Labour to the Conservatives, as post-election the Conservative government hinges on working with the DUP – a party campaigning to massively restrict abortion rights in Northern Ireland. Therefore, it is unsurprising that women prefer Labour over a party that is willing to negotiate away women’s rights in a weak stab at ‘stability’ in a political climate of chaos.
Photograph: Gary Knight via Wikipedia