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May vs Leadsom - Who Cares the Most?

08/07/2016 14:44 | Updated 08 July 2016

Now the men are out of the running, we have the first all women leadership race in British political history.

What difference will that make to the government that one of them will lead as Britain's second female Prime Minister? And of Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, who is most likely to prioritise care and support for children and older people?

While divided over the Brexit vote, both candidates have made it clear that the result of the EU referendum must be respected and implemented.

Clearly May has much more experience in Government and as an MP. Leadsom offers freshness and some distinct views from the right.

Both could be classified as tough economically but May is more socially liberal with Leadsom expressing a variety of views on social issues.

Both will want to be seen as champions of women and continuing to break the mould a la Thatcher.
They are representatives of a generation where women have worked all their lives, and would no doubt want to make it easier for other women to succeed. Both have worked in banking and finance, as well as politics, where the gender culture change has still some way to go.

Theresa May has led on equalities issues with the Conservative Party, particularly when in opposition before 2010. She has pushed for better support for working carers looking after an older or disabled adult.

Andrea Leadsom has less of a track record on these issues but has championed early childhood development and the importance of better support for the first two years of a child's life.

Clearly with an ageing population the next Prime Minister is going to have to tackle the issues of health, care, pensions and housing for older people. They will inherit a care crisis and an NHS under massive pressure.

The current government has prioritised investment in childcare and early years services, but its election pledges on free childcare and childcare tax breaks have still to be implemented.

The major issue for the successful candidate on the face of it will be implementing Brexit. But the main underlying issue is the weak economy and the economic implications of Brexit.

Austerity budgets and spending cuts will not only continue, they may well deepen and last much longer.
This will be bad news for care for older and disabled people. The care crisis will only get worse, with growing numbers of older people but fewer getting help with care and support.

There must also be big question marks over whether the childcare reforms will be fully implemented. Indeed are they the best use of public resources? Or should money be more focused on those under twos who need most help?

A leadership contest offers opportunities for new and fresh thinking. Will we get different policy ideas on domestic issues as well as Britain's changing role in the world? Will both candidates seek to woo women voters and permanently shed the Conservatives tag as 'the nasty party'?

Theresa May has shown that she can be tough, she can reform public services and get more from less. Those skills will be much needed by the next Prime Minister. She now needs to show that she has an agenda that goes far wider than the Home Office.

Andrea Leadsom will be subject to much more public and media scrutiny. Does she have what it takes to be Prime Minister? And will she inject some much needed new ideas into Tory politics?

Ultimately who can unite both the Tory party and Britain? It's a huge challenge, but now the men are out of it, the games can stop and the serious players can show that they really care - about ordinary families, their struggles with caring responsibilities and giving everyone, whatever their age, the best care and support.

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