women

Jim Pickard

The Telegraph and the Mail have today covered the story that the government will unveil a new universal state pension in an imminent green paper. The £140/week pension (rising to £155 in four years’ time) is roughly as anticipated when the story first broke last autumn. It is a less complicated system than the current basis state pension which can be topped up with additional benefits such as the pension credit.

What has barely been noted, however, is that the coalition nearly endured a defeat in the House of Lords on Wednesday night over its long-standing plans to lift Britain’s retirement age. 

Are there any women on any of the main parties’ top teams who do not embarrass the leadership? I only ask because one of the most striking subtexts of this election has been its utter masculinity. It is hard to recall an election in recent times which has been so single-sexed. The only women who we have seen regularly are Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron. At times it has seemed that this is a contest being held entirely in a monastery  – or perhaps the 1920s.

It is not unusual for political parties to have an A-list of people who get to monopolise the airwaves. Come election time the cabinet and shadow cabinet is filled with disgruntled second raters who the party spin machines have concluded do not press the voters’ hot button. But in all previous elections, the parties would not have dreamed of having no women on the A-list. They always managed to find at least one, who dutifully sat in on all press conferences, wearing a bright jacket and was allowed onto Newsnight.