Newcastle MP who criticised ‘pinkifcation’ of girls’ toys defends Labour’s pink bus

Harriet Harman launches Labour’s Woman to Woman election campaign bus at ASDA supermarket in Stevenage

A Tyneside MP who criticised the ‘pinkification’ of girls’ toys has leapt to the defence of Labour’s decision to use a pink bus to win women’s votes.

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said the colour has been “stolen by the toy industry as a badge of girlhood” but it would have “patronising and defeatist” not to use it for the party’s ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign.

The Labour MP says the colour of the bus is the same as that used by leader Ed Miliband for his ‘One Nation’ conference speech.

She also says it is “ridiculous” for political opponents to link her views on children’s toys to the party’s campaign bus.

She said:

“Nine million women did not vote in the 2010 election, almost 400,000 in the North East. Women have been hit hardest by this Conservative Lib Dem Government and the Woman to Woman bus tour is part of putting women’s concerns at the heart of our Election campaign.

“The colour of the bus comes from the One Nation colour scheme – see Ed’s speech at last conference – and it would have been patronising and defeatist to avoid it because it has been stolen by the toy industry as a badge of girlhood.

“That said the controversy has raised the profile so a lot more people know about the bus and that’s great.”

 

MPs will take the pink ‘Woman to Woman’ bus on tour across the country in a bid to engage women and is due to reach the North East in March.

Ms Onwurah, who is a trained engineer, still has strong views on pink toys for young girls.

“I have and will continue to campaign against the pinkification of girlhood because I want choice for girls and for boys, to let colours be colours,” she said.

“But the idea that I am or ever have argued for some kind of colour bar against the particular collection of unsaturated wavelengths that comprise pink is ridiculous.

“It’s not the colour it’s the issues that impact women and girls that matter – like equal pay, public services, child care and gender stereotypes about what toys girls should play with.

“Equally in March when the pink and grey of Eastcoast is changed for the red of Virgin I will certainly not be celebrating.”

Simon Kitchen, the Conservative challenging Chi for the Newcastle Central seat, is among those who criticised Labour for the bus.

He said:

“The launch of Labour’s pink bus after Chi Onwurah criticised Geordie girls for playing with pink toys just highlights the double standards and muddled priorities of the Labour Party.

“It is patronising to pigeonhole ‘men’ and ‘women’ issues. This is clearly just another divisive gimmick that the electorate will see through.”

Nick Cott, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Newcastle Central, added:

“The Labour party is inconsistent. On the one hand, we have Chi Onwurah, challenging gender stereotypes whilst Harriet Harman seems to happy to play to them.

“I actually think there is election gimmickry in this debate. Gender inequality goes much deeper than commentary on blue and pink toys and creating pink battle buses.

“Labour politicians ought to take the issues more seriously and rightly deserve criticism.”

> Actually, I think it’d probably not gender stereotyping at all, merely Labour’s new colous – watered down red.  Though possibly mauve (pink with a hint of blue) might be more appropriate.

Anyway – housing, homelessness, poverty education, austerity, cuts, more cuts… it’s good to know that,  despite all those distractions,  the three main parties have found something really important to debate… the colour of a bus.

Really, polling booths should have “abandon hope all ye who enter here” set over them.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Feb 2015

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