Less than a week after I forced myself to take a much needed break from politics that the Labour Party have produced another gaffe so incredible that I have felt compelled to write about it.
This morning my wife told me of the cunning new plan, those bigwigs in Labour HQ have created to connect with women. It’s not an increase of women in the shadow cabinet to 50%. It’s not a promotion of a senior female politician to Shadow Chancellor.. No their great idea is a bus... A big pink bus. Yet beyond the notion that a tour bus is the answer or the media jokes about the colour is something far more worrying.
Unveiling the campaign, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said the pink bus tour was not patronising, as the party recognises that women have different patterns in their working lives which need to be addressed by public policy.
She also defended the choice of colour, saying it was important to make sure the bus was conspicuous.
The tour of 70 constituencies will focus on five areas that Labour has determined are key to women: childcare, social care, domestic violence, equal pay and political representation.
That’s it, that’s the sum of all worries and woes for all women all across the UK.
The truth is that of course these issues are important and it’s right that the Labour Party are addressing them in this election campaign. The problem is that it is segregation in the purest form.
You can almost hear Ed Balls and Miliband say to Harman;
“Don’t you worry your pretty head about the economy off you go on a pink bus and talk to women about domestic abuse.”
“We’re moving onto defence can all the gays jump on the rainbow bus and campaign for equal rights and leave it to the real men to sort?”
The thing with special campaigns is that it creates separatism and division. Most women I know don't want to be campaigned to as special cases, they want to just be included in the debate. While these issues are important it doesn’t mean that women are only concerned with these issues. The economy, defence, welfare, the environment and foreign policy are just as important. It also reveals a rather disturbing perception by the party, that issues such as childcare, equal pay and domestic abuse are only of interest to women.
38% of domestic abuse cases are male, which means for every 5 victims of domestic abuse 3 will be female and 2 will be male. While 1 in 3 women are estimated to experience domestic abuse, almost 1 in 5 men will also experience this abuse in their lifetime.
There is an increased appeal for men in social and child care. In October 2011 Aviva conducted a survey which stated that one in seven fathers are now the primary child carer and a June 2012 survey by BT found that half of all fathers do an equal or majority of the childcare.
By making these issues ‘women only’ you further disenfranchise men from being allowed an opinion on vital issues which affect them. Just as you disenfranchise women by highlighting ‘women’s issues’ for them to discuss.
During the referendum we saw an increase in working together tackling the hard issues. Political parties joined with Business for Indy joined with National Collective joined with Women for Indy with Labour for Indy with Radical Indy met with people of no group or party giving a voice to a wider political audience allowing them to address all issues with their own interpretation of it. This was inclusion at it’s zenith and anything other than this will no longer stand.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the pink colour of the bus was named the one nation colour as their attempts to woo women are just as clueless as their understanding of the millions of voters ready to reject the three stooges of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem.
Maybe on May 8th they can all fit into the bus and head for a short pier, sharpish.