Labour shadow cabinet member Chris Bryant has branded David Cameron's attitude to women "patronising" after it emerged that not a single woman is scheduled to speak at the 128 fringe meetings during next week's Conservative Party conference.
Writing in the Independent, Bryant said that Cameron had done little to meet his pledge that half of the members of his government would be women by 2015. Currently, only five of the 32 MPs that attend Cabinet are women.
"Ninety-five years after women got the vote, the Tory Conference this year will see 128 fringe meetings at which not a single woman is due to speak. One of them on fair pay," he writes.
He said that sexist attitudes are still rife in the upper echelons of the party.
"Cameron's own personal air of back of the classroom ribaldry - telling Angela Eagle to 'calm down dear', sniggering at Nadine Dorries that she is 'extremely frustrated' - doesn't help. Nor does William Hague's defence that 'you only have to look at our highly accomplished wives', a phrase that drips with over-egged manly condescension."
"As they stumble from leering to superciliousness, it feels like watching a bunch of teenagers from an all-boys' school suddenly discovering girls," he said.
With many women among those affected by squeezed living standards, Bryant predicted that they would desert the Tories in droves in the next general election.
"Most family budgets are managed by women. They don't have to read about a living standards crisis, they are living it. The rising costs of childcare, food and fuel plus frozen wages all impact directly on women," he said.
There were 34 all-male panels in fringe meetings at the Labour party conference this week, and Bryant concedes that his own party had work to do confronting inequality, and said he refused to allow some to proceed until a woman was found to replace a male member.
Bryant's remarks come after a recent poll showed that Labour enjoy a substantial lead over the Tories among women voters, many of whom regard Cameron as "too posh and out of touch".
The survey, by Ipsos Mori for Mumsnet, showed that only 29% of women support Cameron, and 42% Labour. The gap in support is three times that among men.
It showed that Labour has a 25-point lead among women aged 18-34 and a 21-point lead among 35-54 year olds, and even professional women who usually voted for the Tories had switched their allegiance to Labour.
Reacting to the survey, Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: "On the key issues of the economy and employment and particularly where the cuts have fallen, women feel like there is a lack of someone looking out for their interests.
"One bit of the narrative [about Cameron] that stands up is this elitist Oxbridge-Eton man who doesn't quite get women."
Labour strategists intend to target swing female voters in 40 key constituencies as part of their plan to win the next election.
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