Why Labour's pink minibus is wrong
Labour’s decision to turn a minibus pink and visit 70 constituencies around the country to drum up support among women ahead of the election has come in for a great deal of criticism today.
Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, will lead the charge that hopes to get some of the 9.1 million women that did not vote in 2010 into the polling stations, but Harman has had to strongly deny allegations that the campaign was "patronising" to women.
"We wanted it to look conspicuous and therefore a white van was not going to do the job," she said and later joked: "Is it not magenta or something?"
It was a fairly brave move of Harman to go anywhere near the subject of commenting on the colour of a van anyway, especially after her colleague, and former shadow cabinet member, Emily Thornberry caused an uproar over her now infamous snap of a white van and England flags tweeted in the run up to the Rochester by-election.
We’ll let sleeping dogs lie on that white van man stereotype, but will this new campaign bus of Labour’s, pink or otherwise, really do the job they want? How many people are they planning on luring onto the bus in the first place, and do they really need all those seats?
Furthermore – and this is where Van Advisor would like to help – is a minibus really what they need? Granted they’ve gone for the populist option and plumped for a Ford Transit. A new generation model, no less. But do the Labour party realise that the Transit isn’t British any more? Southampton has closed, Ms Harman. You are campaigning in a Turkish import. You’ll need a Vauxhall from Luton if you want to be patriotic as well as sexist.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with it being an import. The vehicle has to come from somewhere and the engines in the Transit do come from Dagenham. But a minibus… Really?
Is Harriet Harman also soliciting players for a women only Labour football team? Will they load up the bus with swing-voters and day trip to the seaside? Who is going to inhabit this pink people mover? Do they plan to invade these poor constituencies mob-handed? An army of canvassers in pink windbreakers (or magenta, if you like) knocking on doors with cerise clipboards and fuchsia footwear? No. Probably not.
In Van Advisor’s opinion they've got the wrong van, what the party needs is a platformed chassis cab with a double row of seats. That way they can still fit in a few of their supporters in the back, with room for Ms Harman riding shotgun and Yvette Cooper in the middle seat. Perhaps the charismatic party leader Mr Milliband will be driving, who knows?
Then, when the merry campaigners reach their destination, they have the perfect vantage point from which to convert the women of Woking or Wetherby to their cause, Speakers’ Corner-style, from the freezing cold soapbox of a platform van that has been bodied in the UK by one of the many excellent firms of body builders that still thrive in this country.
Only then will the colour of the van become irrelevant. Tongues will instead be wagging about what shade of blue Harriet Harman has become in the cold.