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School gate mum

Elections are often good sources of coinages. This is one peculiar to the current British election, which is being used by the Labour Party to emphasise its family-friendly policies on child benefit, child tax credits, and investments in childcare. It’s a linear descendent of Labour stereotypes from the 1997 and 2001 elections — Worcester woman (a married, middle-aged, lower-middle-class woman from a provincial town, seen as a crucial swing voter) and Mondeo man (a 30-something middle-income homeowner, named after his unexciting car, the Ford Mondeo). All these terms are on the same model as American coinages like soccer mom. Another from this election is Do-it-all woman (one in her thirties or forties who juggles commitments at work and at home, probably with both children and elderly relatives to look after, an inversion of the “Have It All” woman of 1980s advertising).

Ross Kemp has been drafted in by the Labour party to appeal to the one million “school gate mums” who are currently floating voters and who could swing the election result one way or the other.

News and Star, 24 Apr. 2005

Tony Blair and his culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, yesterday tried to woo “school gate mums” by offering their children more sport, healthier lunches, and a purge on junk food adverts on TV. The prime minister also pledged a nurse for every secondary school.

Guardian, 20 Apr. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 7 May 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-sch1.htm
Last modified: 7 May 2005.