Most of all, broadly speaking, I think you’d struggle to find many people under the age of 40 who are appalled or outraged or betrayed by this, far less many who really feel insulted or punished. This may reflect my own selection biases of course but, really, I look at today’s Tory papers and wonder where and when these people are living and to whom they think the modern Tory party should be trying to appeal. Because, on the evidence of today’s papers, it sure ain’t middle-class (and metropolitan!) women.
It's not David Cameron's problem or even the parliamentary party's problem, it's a problem of our image, focus and preference. The Party's image and outlook - again this isn't a consequence of policy, ideology or strategy but one of positioning - is designed to sustain it's core. And that core, the 'Conservative Base' if you wish, is over 55, living in the South East and wealthy pockets elsewhere.
Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of these people. They form the core constituency and customer base for the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, they don't approve of newfanged things like gay marriage and women going out to work, and they make up nearly all of the Conservative Party's 150,000 members (as an aside, when I joined the party in 1976 it had around 2 million members).
The Party has lost the support of two generations of educated young people - the bunch who finished university and started work in the 1990s and the cohort who did likewise in the 2000s. This goes a long way to explaining why the Party got less than 40% of AB voters - its traditional core support - in the 2010 General Election.
Alex Massie is right. It would be a poor do if this was just the response to giving working mums a tax break on childcare. But it isn't - the same goes for almost any policy that might look even the slightest bit socially liberal. Whether it's gay rights or racial discrimination, the knee-jerk of the conservative press - echoed by the 'party faithful' next time they meet their MP - is to say no and gibber about political correctness or traditional values.
Until this changes, the Conservative Party will decline. For sure, vacuuming up the grumpy old man vote might work as a short term strategy but in the long term all it does it annoy the hell out of 30 and 40 something voters. Voters who really don't have a choice but for mum to work - and who will welcome a little tax break on childcare.