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PM aims to win back women voters with game of musical chairs

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Summary of story by the Mail on Sunday, 30 October, 2011

Is David Cameron hoping to boost his ailing support among women by ensuring that female MPs sit behind him when he takes his place at the despatch box?

As polls show that Cameron’s support is lower among women than men, and that one in four voters think he is sexist, it appears that male MPs are being asked to give their second row seats to women when he takes his place for Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The trend of having women MPs in shot behind Cameron can be traced back to September when he appeared to ridicule anti-abortion Tory MP Nadine Dorries by suggesting she was “frustrated” (see WVoN story).

Since then it has been noted that MP for South Thanet Laura Sandys has taken the seat usually reserved for Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West.

Stourbridge MP Margot James, Maidstone MP Helen Grant and Heather Wheeler, who is MP for South Derbyshire, have also taken seats close to Cameron.

The Conservatives fear that women are being turned off the party because of the cuts and job losses in the public sector which are seen as disproportionately affecting them (see WVoN story).

Cameron was also accused of sexism after he told shadow chief secretary, Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” (see WVoN story).

Swayne has denied that he had been given orders to ensure that women are in prominent positions when the cameras are on Cameron.

He said: “Gadzooks! I’m afraid the poor man has more things to do, like running the country.”

But did admit to asking Sandys to take his vacant seat last week:

“I called her over because there was going to be a green space behind the PM and I would rather it was filled by someone fragrant like Laura.”

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