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Women think that David Cameron is out of touch for good reason

1 October 2013

Well, the great breadmaking debate hots up. David Cameron neatly sidestepped the heffalump trap that Nick Ferrari put in his path in an interview on LBC when he asked him the price of a Value Loaf in Tesco or Sainsbury. As you and I know, dear reader, Mr Cameron would no more eat that stuff than his own fingernails, and I for one applaud his good sense. If you can afford not to, don’t. But his elegant solution to the problem of not knowing that loaf-shaped carbohydrate costs 47p (he thought bread costs ‘north of a pound’, which is true of the kind he eats, only double that) was to say that he makes his own bread, from flour milled in the Cotswolds, a process which takes all of 30 seconds in a breadmaker as a way of getting his children to eat granary loafs.

And, you know what… they do! Eat that, Mumsnet.

Already the matter has got the pundits going. Xanthe Clay of the Telegraph has opined on the PM programme that breadmakers suck. And, given that chez McDonagh, we make bread pretty well every night, to bake the next morning, may I say that she’s right; five or ten minutes’ work will give you a fab loaf, with just flour, water, salt and yeast. And for those Tory MPs seeking to show how completely in touch they are, may I say that you can purchase economy strong bread flour, 1.5kg in Tesco for all of 80p, and Christ only knows how they do it.

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Anyway, a debate about the price of bread makes a nice change from the price of milk, which caught Boris Johnson out last night. Nadine Dorries’ gibe at Messrs Cameron and Osborne, as posh boys who don’t know the price of milk, stuck because it’s true. They don’t have to. Angela Merkel actually does do her weekly shop in her local Berlin supermarket without anyone even noticing; if David Cameron did the same, it would look like a cheap effort to look like he’s in touch.

There are two underlying issues here…actually probably just one. The most obvious is David Cameron’s problem with women voters. A Mumsnet poll has re-emphasised previous findings about women voters’ disenchantment with the PM. That follows earlier research conducted by Ipsos MORI, which shows that Mr Cameron’s five-point lead over Labour among women voters in the last general election has turned into a 13-point deficit. Since you ask, they, we, think he’s out of touch. Which he is, though probably not half as much as the Chancellor.

These polls can make me a bit restive. I mean, if it were the other way round, and men were turning their noses up at the PM, would we be running stories about his Problem with Men? I think not.

But the reason why this issue has real traction is that women are, by and large, even in the most egalitarian households, the keepers of the budget. They tend to do the shopping, pay the gas bill. And the single most outstanding issue for those who pay for things is, as Labour has correctly identified, the ever rising cost of living. Inflation is officially at 2.8 per cent, comfortably above most people’s current pay rises. But you can forget it when it comes to essentials…food, gas and electricity, fares (in London, you can expect 10 per cent increases, every bloody year), things you just have to pay. The figure of 2.8 doesn’t come anywhere near it. My own rough estimate is how far twenty quid will get you in Waitrose or Tesco or the local farmers market, depending on how grand you are. And my own dim feeling is that it lasts significantly less than it did after 2010 election…just a hunch, mind you, but I’d say that a fifteen per cent decrease during that time wouldn’t be far off, and that’s while you’re digging deep into the Essentials range.

And as The Spectator has made clear every time it engages with the issue of Quantitative Easing, for ministers, for the Bank of England, inflation is just one of those things we’ve got to put up with. And inflation, the cost of living, par excellence is the real Women’s Issue.

You know it wasn’t always like this. John Major, the circus impresario’s son, always banged on about inflation because he belonged to a class that had to struggle to pay for things. He was popular with women voters until 1992. And nobody jeered at him for not knowing the price of a value loaf. Margaret Thatcher was a veritable Angela Merkel when it came to sounding off about household budgets. They didn’t have to try to look in touch. Because, for quite a lot of the time, they were.

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Show comments
  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    As an expert on many things I can tell you that asking ‘how much is the price of a loaf’ is very difficult to answer.Almost kwontum mekanikal

    It can vary from about 50p to about £1:50 depending on the position in space , which supermarket and in time , close to sell by causes variation.

    Now milk; thats a different matter
    £1 for 2 litres at many supermarkets. So that may be considered steady state.

  • Sue Ward

    I dont know what the price of milk or bread is either I have a vague idea, but I need to buy it (Cravendale) and a decent wolemeal sliced so I chuck it in the trolley and jobs a good un! I do notice if its 3 bottles for £2 though, or BOGOF!

  • McRobbie

    My wife likes cameron, she thinks his heart is in the right place and he’s trying to do good. How anyone can think miliee is more in touch than cameron I do not know. Miliee has jumped on one bandwagon, energy prices, and put forward a typical left whinge solution.. trying tell businesses how to operate..failed nationalism by another game, and this pretence of price control will also not work. Cameron has had direct experience of family problems (certainly more than miliee other than should he get married to the mother of his 2 children when leader of the labour party !) and OK he doesn’t know the price of bread..he probably has more to do than to buy a loaf of bread. He ticked many of the boxes for me..educations standards to improve for all and welfare only for those that earn the right.

    • frank100


  • ButcombeMan

    Only the seriously stupid would consider asking Cameron the price of a Tesco value loaf as a “heffalump trap”. The poverty of the question and the subsequent bubble commentator musings about it, make me despair of UK politics.

    I guess you could ask that question of most shoppers for food and they would not know. The question was a cheap gimmick when Ferrari asked it, it is the same when you base an article on it.

    The poor and less well educated could eat better and more healthily if they cooked from basic & raw ingredients. It is a tragedy of our time that the very poorest people, in the UK anyway, have seemingly, largely lost the ability to make good nutricious meals from cheap ingredients. There is a poverty of ambition about food in much of the UK, we should eat less and eat better.

    Food is astonishingly cheap in the UK, still.

    Bread in the supermarkets is cheap. As you point out, so is flour.

  • The Blue Baron

    I love the implicit sexism of this article – that Cameron’s apparent failure to identify the price of bread is particularly insulting to women.

  • VikingSquashHead

    According the the media all politicians are “out of touch” unless they gorge on Gregg’s pasties, nasty cheap white bread, feed their kids turkey twizzlers and hang around kebab vans giving interviews. I think the media are out of touch if they think these kind of values are what concerns most voters.

  • CharlietheChump

    Send a SPAD to but a loaf from Greggs every day, create a Tory Greggs Index, include it as a header on PM and all Ministers daily briefing, then ask Greggs for a donation. Oh and donate the loaf to a foodbank.

  • Bonkim

    You get good buys at Lidl – Bread is 48p.

  • HJ777

    What evidence is there for Melanie McDonagh’s assertion that women, as opposed to men, tend to do the budgeting and pay the bills?

    • AtMyDeskToday

      None at all I suspect. In 44 years of marriage my wife has never paid one single bill, and she’s the boss around here.

      • HJ777

        Exactly the same situation as in my house.

        I pay all the domestic bills, but my wife tends to do most of the food shopping.

  • chfhrgthy6yt

    Time for UKIP, Cameron is just another EU moron

    Sign petition for UKIP to participate in the 2015 TV General
    Election Debates, over 24,000 have already signed. Please blog, tweet, facebook

  • alabenn

    This pathetic article about an insignificant detail by a woman about a question asked by a man with a silly name, typifies how pathetic the political comment scene has become.
    This woman and the ludicrous Nick Ferrari have reached the pinnacle of their careers with his infantile question and her comment on it.
    She is supposed to be one of top bracket of female leaders in the country, she actually is probably one of the top end earners, if this sort of rubbish is the best she can come up with is it surprising that there is a lack of female representation in the top end of all boardroom and government jobs.

  • swatnan

    Bread is about a £1 on average. So Dave was right. and he is sensible to bake his own, because the stuff you buy in supermarkets whatever the brand is foul.

  • drydamol1


    The ‘Feel Good Factor’ .It didn’t disappear over night so
    where is it.Nobody can put a finger on when it went but generally today it is
    appreciated it no longer exits.Political Correctness is no more than basically
    re-teaching adults how to think in a particular collective way.Immigration is
    not conducive to social cohesion by the very nature of cultural differences.

    The Media have decided what is News & what isn’t in
    the Public Interest.Wars,crime, and politics seem to dominate the routine daily

    Politics seem to dominate our social lives constantly by
    the changing negative Political Policies forced upon us without
    redress.Materialism has taken over basic values at a time when the Majority of
    the Public has less disposable income.The Public’s trust in Politics &
    Politicians is at an all time low,so where does that leave us, in a dominated
    state of uncertainty with a dim future.

    What can alter the situation,easier said than done
    firstly we can start by recognising that Politicians are mere mortals and no
    better than us,some far worse with their Lies & Deceit.

    In future trust a Politician as you would a complete
    stranger,because they are and your welfare is of no concern to them.

    • Fergus Pickering

      No better than us, but no worse either.

  • Fergus Pickering

    So men don’t eat eh? I too have no idea of the price of a Value loaf or of a Ready Meal or any of those other things the poor and ignorant eat. But I know the price of a bottle of gin and I know that under Labour it would have gone up a couple of quid. And I know the price of a litre of petrol. But perhaps you ladies don’t drink alcohol or drive cars, you poor things.

    • Jambo25

      “The poor and ignorant eat”. You really are a piece of work. What a prune.

  • DrCoxon

    ‘Christ only knows how they do it.’

    Please do not take Our Lord’s name in vain. Thank you.

    • Ian Walker

      Why not? He’s been dead for 2000 years, I doubt he’s going to notice

      • Tom Tom

        Learn the 10 Commandments before engaging in Incitement and breaching the Public Order Act 1986

        • Ian Walker

          The Lord of the 3rd Commandment is the wrong one, dummy

          • Tom Tom

            Do change your image you look like a complete dork

        • Ben

          Now there’s a court case I’d like to watch.

          “And then… then he said… ‘Christ’, your honour.”

          “30 years with hard labour. Take him down”

    • Ben

      Do you seriously expect a modern audience to conform to the social norms of the 1950s to avoid offending your delicate ear? Sweet Jebus.

  • StephanieJCW

    I am not rich at all. But I genuinely don’t know the price of milk or bread.

    I just never take note of it when I purchase it.

    • Madeleine

      Agree with you. Am sure bread price varies anyway; Of course Cameron isn’t going to know the price of a Tesco value loaf – and if he did that would have smacked of briefing and therefore not genuine

    • Eric Priezkalns

      I’m poor and I wouldn’t notice the price of milk or bread, if it wasn’t for all the political attention it gets.

      It’s funny that none of the public knows what the national debt is, but they think politicians are ‘out of touch’ when they can’t quote supermarket prices. Ask the average shopper about the budget for the NHS, or how Britain’s economic growth compares with the Eurozone, and you’ll soon discover how many voters are out of touch with reality…

  • HookesLaw

    How good a shopper are you Ms McDonaugh?
    There are various deals you can take advantage of which would make er… mincemeat out of your claims about price rises.

    Commodity costs affect food prices and like Canute no politician can turn back the tide or render a poor harvest golden.

  • Honor Tremayne-Jefferson

    Fine if you forget the cost of the heating & electricity bills, & ignore the elephant in the room – energy costs, & the Climate Change Act so ardently supported by our totally switched-on Prime Minister. As a housewife, I too could afford a bread-maker, along with a few tons of Cotswold flour, if I didn’t have to pay to heat my house, to light my rooms, to support a useless field of turbines, to support the expensively lit & heated house that the Prime Minister’s father-in-law lives in.

    • StephanieJCW

      If it’s that tough I am sure you can get a paying job.

    • Tom Tom

      Panasonic breadmaker is worth its weight in gold. Quality flour is not that costly per loaf compared to the health problems of Chorleywood Process bread which bloats and is a leading revenue source for Rennie and Remegel and Gaviscon

    • McRobbie

      And the left wing bigots are attacking the mail for using miliee’s father as an explanation for miliee’s marxist views ?..double standards again from someone of the left methinks.

  • HookesLaw

    Why should anyone earning as much (or even a quarter as much) as the Prime Minister of Great Britain want to buy a value loaf.
    Even I have been known to buy a spelt and honey loaf from our local farmer’s market. £3.00. I can never resist the cheese and bacon slice. £1.50

    iIs quite pathetic that dumb interviewers should ask any politician these absurd micro economic questions.
    Churchill never knew what the limits of the ration were at the height of the war. Fortunately he knew enough to put resources into Bletchley Park.

    • Tom Tom

      Did he ? I should have though Lord Cherwell; Frederick Lindemann did that – being German-born – he will have set priorities and Churchill will have been happy to have competent people around him – in marked contrast to Cameron

  • anyfool

    If women are as vacuous as this silly story then the Tories are toast, whether he knows the price of the bread to make it or not.

    • wotevah

      Steady on… it’s a bit of a wild assumption that Dave knows how to make toast, don’t you think?

  • kyalami

    A bread maker? What’s wrong with kneading the dough? Good grief.

  • toco10

    Mumsnet which is a truly valuable addition to relevant comment in this country and its female(and indeed male) contributors would quickly change their minds about Cameron if interest raised soared due to the profligacy of another dysfunctional Labour administration.Another £5,000 per annum on a £100,000 mortgage would seriously outweigh any uncosted giveaways by Red Ed and more importantly a decline in education standards due to trades union pressure would adversely affect the entire population.

  • London Calling

    I think Women are out of touch with Cameron……….he makes the time to flip pancakes with his daughters when he can……what more do you expect from a busy PM……………………:)

  • Chris lancashire

    And the point of this piece is?
    And whilst you are at, and without looking Ms McDonagh, the price of half a dozen eggs is…..?

    • HookesLaw

      Oh come on … value? free range ? organic? organic free range? barn reared?

      How is she to know?

      I doubt she touches the value range of anything in her local Waitrose. (I am not being pejorative there – I move smoothly between our local co-op and Waitrose)

  • telemachus

    Not sure I read this as a woman friendly problem
    It was an out of touch with the people trap
    Inevitably a public schoolboy who surrounds himself with his peers is going to be divorced from reality
    Truth is that when we throw him out of office in nineteen months he can retire to bucolic bliss in the Cotswolds and play polo

    • Chris lancashire

      And no doubt you know the price of a pint of milk. Without looking.

      • Jambo25

        I can tell you the price of milk and bread no problem though, like Dave, my wife and I generally make our own bread. We got our bread maker, cheap, out of Lidls. Dave’s probably came from Harrod’s and was set with semi-precious stones.

        • Chris lancashire

          Well hooray for you. Could you knit me something as well? Using only natural fibres of course.

          • Tom Tom

            buy Jaeger

            • Chris lancashire

              Too cheap.

    • Jambo25

      Depends on the PSB. I am an ex PSB but I got there as a ‘Bursary boy’. My dad was a lorry driver and my ma a laundry woman and school cleaner amongst other things. I have also worked as a brewery dray man, rat catcher, waiter, industrial cleaner, shop assistant, civil servant, school teacher HE lecturer etc.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Who cares what your father and mother did. And that list of jobs is pathetic. You did half of them while you were a student. You are, or were, a white collar chap who has no right to talk about real jobs. A real job, friend, is what you get paid money for doing. That of course is quite divorced from work or real work.

        • Jambo25

          And between insulting people on-line you, no doubt, are a big butch bricky

          • Chris lancashire

            Ooooh, you’d like him to be wouldn’t you?

          • Fergus Pickering

            Butch? Oooooh, hark at him! I am a loan shark. Bloody hard work, grinding the faces of the poor.

    • HookesLaw

      Ed Balls is a public schoolboy. So was Michael Foot. So is Tony Blair.
      My dad worked down the pit like his brother and brother in law and father and grandfather.So what?
      My brother was the first person in over 800 years in our family to go to university.

      • telemachus

        It is what you do with the legacy that defines you
        Balls unlike Cameron does not exclusively surround himself with like Public Schoolers.
        He connects with the people and works for the people

        PS Iwas the first in my family

  • statechaos

    I couldn’t care less if Dave or Boris don’t know the price of a loaf of bread or a pint of milk. Neither does my husband, nor I dare say most men who never do that sort of shopping. You claim that women don’t like Dave because he doesn’t have to worry about stuff like that, so he is out of touch. Well Churchill didn’t have to either. In fact, if our political leaders had to worry about the price of a bread loaf that would signify that they didn’t know how to create wealth or how to hang on to it. Compared to many of our European neighbours, and considering that we were running the largest budget deficit in the West, the Coalition have kept our heads above water, just, and for that this woman is eternally grateful. We don’t have the 25% youth unemployment of Spain, or the problems of Greece, and are in better shape than Italy and France. I am relieved that I don’t have to worry about things much bigger than the price of a loaf and a pint of milk, as people in other parts of Europe have to.

    • Jambo25

      Neither Cameron nor Osborne have had a proper job in their lives. Cameron was given a job through family connections as a highly unsuccessful PR man at Carlton TV. Osborne once folded some towels. God knows what Boris ever did.

      • anyfool

        What jobs have the nobs in Labour done, almost all have lived off the public, the whole Miliband family since they arrived in this country have lived off the public purse.

        • Lady Magdalene

          True. But as the saying goes “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

        • Tom Tom

          That is the fault of the politial system. Just who selects these candidates ? How did Witney ditch a Labour-Convert from Central Office in Shaun Woodward for a LibDem-Convert from Central Office David Cameron ?

          • Jambo25

            That’s pretty much my point which others seem to have severe difficulty in getting. We now have professional political and media classes which are very much interlinked. Those at the top of politics rarely, if ever do ‘proper’ jobs outside the media and political bubbles.

        • Jambo25

          Did I, in any way defend the Labour Party? No, so why write the tripe above?

          • anyfool

            Because Cameron and Osborne are one part of a two horse race, the other part is relevant for context.
            Tripe in the local butchers £1.65p a pound, tripe on here free.

      • Chris lancashire

        You might add Miliband to the list. Just to be even handed.

        • Jambo25

          I’m not defending Miliband.

          • Chris lancashire

            No, you just “forgot” to mention him along with Cameron and Osborne.

            • Jambo25

              I would have thought that anyone with half a brain would realise that Miliband and the other geniuses at the top of Labour were simply ‘Cal me’ and Gideon with slightly different clothes. They’re all part of the ‘Inside the M25 political and media classes.’.

              • Chris lancashire

                That’s the first sensible point you’ve made.

                • Jambo25

                  This thread was on ‘Cal me’, Gideon and pals.

                • Chris lancashire

                  That’s a bit weak isn’t it? And here’s a tip – you merely weaken your points with the silly, little name-calling stuff.

      • statechaos

        I believe Boris was once a hairdresser!

      • HookesLaw

        Oh bu##er off with the never had a proper job rubbish. Find another tune.

        • Jambo25

          So, basically, you have no counter argument other than personal abuse. Would you like a job writing weekend articles for the Daily Mail?

      • Fergus Pickering

        Boris was, and is, a journalist. I’m afraid he didn’t tote a whatsit or lift a bale the way you do. But it is undeniably a job. What do you do exactly? I’ll bet it involves sitting down. Real jobs are surely done standing up.

        • Tom Tom

          Boris was a plagiarist and author of false quotations. In short a fraud.

          • Jambo25

            That, also, is true.

        • Jambo25

          It does involve a lot of sitting down. I’m now retired due to a spinal injury. Thanks. I try and keeps cheery ducks. Thank you? And WTF do you do apart from being rude to people?

    • Tom Tom

      Churchill didn’t worry because he an unelected Prime Minister who cancelled the 1940 election and ruled using Emergency Powers. Further food was rationed and he ate at restaurants where food was not rationed. He was totally detached from the lives of ordinary people which is why he was booed when visiting the East End.

      • Jambo25

        He also did quite a bit to save decency and civilisation in Europe. When ‘Call me’ and Gideon achieve anything noteworthy get back to me.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Parliament, both Houses together with the monarch, deferred elections during both world wars. Churchill may well have proposed but it was Parliament that disposed.

    • Madeleine

      Well said!

    • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

      Politicians creating wealth: made me larf that did !

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