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Tuesday 1st March 2005

Watford Women

Could the forthcoming election be won by the party which targets women more in its election campaign? Our Political Correspondent Iain Watson has been finding out.

The three main parties will be battling for women's votes at the forthcoming election. Opinion polls show that older women are amongst the most likely section of the population to vote, but are more fickle than men of a similar age. Those who voted Labour in 1997 and 2001 are far less certain to do so now.

By contrast, young women tend to be far more disillusioned with party politics and need persuading that it's worthwhile voting at all.

So we asked Opinion Leader Research, a market research company, to conduct focus groups with both older and younger women to explore their concerns - and to see which party could inspire them. We wanted to test whether the policies that are meant traditionally to appeal more to women - such as childcare or schooling - were really uppermost in their minds, or whether the parties' policies on immigration, taxation or the economy were more of a priority.

Why Watford? This is a seat that will be vigorously contested by all three main parties. It's held by Labour with a 5,500 majority, with the Conservatives in a good second place. But the LibDems now control the local council and are optimistic about their prospects, too.
You can listen to the focus groups we carried out in January and February here, and we will be visiting this constituency again in March to find out how the continuing campaigns are influencing - or failing to influence - women voters.

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