Lucy James is a Progressive Women steering committee member and attended this week’s Labour Party conference
The ability to reach out to female voters is often seen as a key strength for the Labour Party.
And this will be the case now, perhaps more than ever, as the coalition is faced with disproportionately high unemployment rates among the female workforce.
Last month, an Ipsos Mori poll found that the proportion of voters who think the Conservatives best look after women’s interests is just 12 per cent.
But despite an open goal, this conference season Labour did not focus explicitly on women. And this will likely be a deliberate change in tone by party strategists.
After all, this was the conference of Miliband’s “one nation” Britain. This concept, which Labour is seeking to recast as its own, seeks to build a country, and specifically an economy, that works for everyone.
The building of a “one nation” Britain is an inclusive concept. Labour will be hoping that vast swathes of the country can buy into it – men and women, young and old, north and south.
Miliband and his team will be hoping that policies, such as those that recognise the soaring cost of living for ordinary families, will appeal to female voters as citizens, rather than purely as women.
If this is a deliberate strategy, the courting of women as citizens rather than as a female bloc vote is refreshing. It is a progressive style of politics that is less inclined towards the dangers of more divisive politics that separates voters into blocs.
And, it could be argued, it is a sign that the Labour Party is feeling more confident then ever when it comes to women. It doesn’t need to pander to female voters as women to make the inroads that it needs.