Comment: Labour’s pink campaign van is ‘patronising’ to women? Don’t be ridiculous

A bright pink minibus used by Labour to launch a campaign aimed at female voters has been vilified on social media as being patronising to women.

What utter nonsense.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman is leading the ‘woman-to-woman’ initiative, which will see the 16-seater tour the UK up until the May general election targeting those who didn’t vote in 2010.

You can’t miss this shade of shocking pink in a sea of otherwise muted-coloured cars.

I’d like to think the whole purpose of the campaign is to grab people’s attention, and then engage with would-be voters by discussing party policies with them.

I’d also like to think those behind the campaign, and I’m assuming there were a fair few females included in the process, didn’t just see the word ‘woman’, assume they like pink, organise the paint job and hope that they would vote Labour solely on that basis.

Pink is just a colour. However my colleague Jessica would argue that’s not the case.

When it comes to enforcing gendered stereotypes I dislike the idea that toys should be marketed solely at just boys or girls.

If a boy wants to play ‘house’ with dolls or a girl wants to tackle intergalactic crime with Transformers’ Bumblebee then so be it.

When choosing baby clothes for friends I try and steer clear of the masses of traditional blues and pinks and opt for something more neutral.

Current favourites include apple green, lemon and cream – they’re so fresh looking (though maybe not the most practical to a sleep-deprived parent) and, dare I say it, rather cute.

But from a political perspective it’s a bit trickier when tackling the colour chart.

If Labour had plumped for blue it would seem like an advert for the Conservatives and if they’d gone for green it would look like they were hijacking the environmental agenda and muscling in on the Greens.

Yellow would look like they were promoting Lib Dem policies and if they’d gone for purple (with a hint of gold trim) they’d be encroaching on UKIP’s colours.

If they’d gone for white they wouldn’t have upset anyone but would been left to blend in with the thousands of other white vans also out on the roads.

The simple answer would, of course, been to stick to a traditional red however Harriet Harman said it would have blended in too much with other Labour campaign banners and materials.

Discussing the possibility of darkening the hue she explained to those at yesterday’s press briefing that the party could have experienced something of an identity crisis.

She said: “We then looked at a darker red, but it looked too much like a Pret delivery van.

“We wanted to be visible and conspicuous – to mark it out, to be different.”

I’m not sure Ms Harman’s claims during the briefing that the shocking hue is a ‘One Nation Labour’ colour is really going to wash with anyone, however the van will certainly stand out in a crowd.

If the aim of the campaign was to get women, and men, talking about voting then Labour has definitely achieved what it set out to do.

Do you think the use of a pink minibus is patronising or not? Let us know in the comments box below.

Image courtesy of Labour Party via YouTube, with thanks

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