Comment: The big pink bus IS patronising and Labour should think twice about campaigning policies

Pink stinks, so a movement of mums tells us, the colour itself is fine but the message of fluffy infantilisation it carries is not.

Labour’s big pink campaign bus is a misstep, and despite Harriet Harman’s attempt at rebranding the neon van ‘a One Nation Labour colour’, she fails to see the point.

Pink is a political colour, it’s not just the hue of warm sunsets and bonbons, it’s become a visual signifier for a certain caricature of women.

This cartoon woman likes feather boas, fizzy wine and will mindlessly pay more for everything from razors to bic pens if they come in baby pink.

She is superficial and unthreatening, she’s a primping princess who doesn’t have a thought in her pretty little head.

She also needs to be reminded to vote because in case you haven’t heard there’s a general election this year.

This is the 2D image of women that the pink bus is appealing to – the problem is, she doesn’t really exist and it’s patronising to pretend she does.

Mentally run through the women you know, normal, complicated people who don’t have a pavlovian response to pink – would a single one of them see a pink bus and be filled with a new ardour for voting?

There are endless campaigns to have women represented more fairly and accurately but this plays to the blandest and vaguest sense of what it is to be a woman.

Yes, the general disinterest in engaging with democracy is a problem with current estimates saying that 7.5m people of voting age are not registered for the 2015 general election, but this pink wash won’t change that.

Politicians are often accused of being ‘out of touch’ and nothing screams that louder than a shocking pink campaign bus that has managed to offend before it has even left the garage.

If Harriet Harman had set off on her busman’s holiday promising that women could be guaranteed equal pay for equal work and that families – who woman often shoulder the main care for – would no longer have to reply on foodbanks, that their children wouldn’t be held in detention centres, I might forgive the pink bus.

She says she doesn’t want women to give up on politics but she isn’t offering them anything to fight for, her campaign is as vacuous as the pink-loving puppet she’s appealing to.

Ed Miliband pledged to lower the voting age to 16 and this may not work in his favour, young women are a lot smarter than they’re given credit for and they’re certainly not going to be taken in by this.

Pink is just a colour but what it signifies is patronising and demeaning, by avoiding political associates by primary colour Labour have instead make a cerise stereotype.

As a media stunt it has certainly been a hit but Labour should actually listen to the feedback they’re getting from real life women, it’s not good.

Picture courtesy of University of Salford press office, with thanks

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