Last week, amid the shoes and scandal, was a very good piece focusing on women candidates of all parties who are standing in the forthcoming election. These are women who don’t just sound off about subjects; they step up to the mark in their high heels and say their piece. They are young and savvy and all have their own particular ambitions and sense of their potential for power. They don’t want to be anyone’s babes or beauties. They don’t want to be trophy female politicians. They want to be politicians and they feel they can make a difference.
Recent research among young women indicates that when asked to name women in politics, they name Mr Cameron’s wife or Mr Brown’s wife. Politics by association rules. It is no coincidence that these wives/women are bright and well turned out and attractive role-models for young women of this generation.
The inability of these young women to name an actual woman MP could be down to the fact that as a group, women MPs are on the tidy side of dowdy and often sound defensive, even when what they say makes sense. Their earnestness comes over as uncertainty and lack of authority. (Unlike the tousled, charismatic ex MP Shirley Williams who is a delight when she turns up on something like Question Time and exudes knowledge and authority. And smiles. The other exception was the charismatic equally tousled late lamented Mo Mowlam.)
I hope that this collection of potential female MPs produces some sound parliamentarians who don’t dowd down like the current crop and don’t have their bright ideas dumbed down by the processes of a male dominated parliament.
Articles like this in popular women’s magazines are a great source of informed insight for young women who can’t be doing with the effort of burrowing through the pages of The Guardian or The Telegraph for their political education. The are intelligent and can enjoy their political education alongside the latest shoes and celebrity fairy stories.
Why not? I say.
One proviso - I wish Grazia had carried a coverline on its front about this excellent article. You’ve got this level of credibility, so flaunt it…