The girls have got to vote for Labour now. They've got a pink bus and everything!

The Laboured Party delivered a sparkly-gloved slap in the face to girls this week when they employed Barbie as a transport strategist

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

I want to start today’s column by stating unequivocally that I’m a big fan of pink. (The colour that is, rather than the colourful pop star who loves an exclamation mark! That one was for you, P!nk.)

In fact, in the metaphorical league table of my favourite colours, pink sits neatly in second place behind purple, and in front of turquoise, red, blue and green who all float around third spot, depending on my mood. And available hair bobbles.

However, this week’s election campaign trail hooplah involving Harriet Howayman and a big pink bus has left me holding my diddy little head in my even diddier little hands.

What in the name of Captain Barnacles were the Laboured Party thinking?

I can only imagine what the next stage of the plan was for the voting booths on election day. Scatter cushions? Scented candles? Background music courtesy of Michael Bubbles?

It’s like they workshopped campaign ideas with the pre-school arm of the Disney Princess Appreciation Society. Here’s how I’m imagining that went:

Harriet: “Good morning everyone. (Good morning Miss Howayman).We wanted to ask you all to lend your pretty little heads to a problem we’re having at the Laboured Party - don’t get too excited, there are no party bags to be had.

“You see, we need to reach out to girls. Not enough girls are voting for us - or at all in general. In fact we reckon more than nine million girls decided not to vote the last time we were deciding on who was going to be the boss. So we wanted to ask you: how can we get girls to take notice of us ahead of the big election...?”

“I know, I know, I know,” piped up three-year-old Tiana-Belle, still on a sugar high from the Cinderella cupcake in her packed lunch and waving a wand in the air. “Get a shiny pink bus. A BIG shiny pink bus.”

“Ah, thanks kids,” said Harriet. “You’ve been a big help.”

And that was “the women” problem solved. Until their big pink, Barbie-esque Woman-to-Woman bus turned out not to be the babe magnet they thought it was going be.

Yep, wouldn’t you know it, quite a lot of “the women” weren’t bowled over by a patronising patrol of pinkness, which seemed to be shouting ‘Who cares about the policies lasses? WE’VE GOT A PINK BUS and you lot LOVE pink, don’t you?’

MeanwhileLucy Powell, election co-ordinator (who presumably forgot to tell Harriet to wear pink on launch day.) added insult to sparkle-dipped injury by saying they wanted to “have a conversation about the kitchen table, and around the kitchen table”.

Yeah, because that’s where you’ll find “the women”, refusing to tear themselves away from the hob to talk about the future of the country. Mum never makes it into the living room in our house. Dad installed a fireman’s pole and associated spiral staircase from the bathroom to the kitchen so she can stick to what she knows and needs. Deary, deary me.

I know I’ve said this a depressing number of times before, but isn’t this the kind of idea supposedly clever people down at Big Ben are paid oodles of dosh to spot from 10 miles away - and shoot down before it makes it onto any kind of brainstroming flip chart?

Show me someone who ever thought this monumentally stupid idea wasn’t going to be laughed, sighed, cried and stamped at, the moment it beeped its silly little horn (which I’m presuming plays the Cinderella soundtrack) and I’ll show you a complete nincompoop.

You’ve got to hope Harriet’s got a mate who can do her a deal on a respray. I have a feeling they’ll be getting a call.

A Gold Star for... Parker Lewis

Every week I award a gold star to a child of my choosing. The child in question may be real or fictional, historic or current, and the award may be for a specific act or a wider body of work. Basically they are my stars and I’ll give them to whoever I choose, assuming I don’t stick them all to the lounge telly first.

Parker Lewis
Parker Lewis

Life as a toddler is one long series of ups and downs, leaps of faith and hard knocks. We learn from our mistakes, through trial and error, with our early years spent climbing a learning curve that is as steep and unforgiving as the wall of Rapunzel’s tower, but without the handy blonde rope to help us up.

Two-and-a-half year-old Parker Lewis, from Durban in South Africa learned all this in the space of 10 seconds the first time he mustered up the courage to take on the slide at the People’s Park outside Moses Mabhida stadium.

Riding a new slide is a very tricky proposition, and a useful if somewhat painful metaphor that can be applied to new challenges throughout our lives: Trying something for the first time can be intimidating, but variety is also the spice of life.

In this case Parker quickly lost control of his descent, and his head rattled around like a ball bearing on a bagatelle board, leaving him dazed and confused at the bottom, but ultimately happy and pumping with adrenaline.

The spills and thrills were recorded for posterity by Parker’s daddy, who revealed the background to his son’s momentous voyage, saying “He’d always wanted to go, but every time he got to the top he changed his mind. “When I started laughing, he laughed and ran back up to go again.”

I’m sure Parker nailed the subsequent slides, but I think we can all guess which clip became a surprise online sensation?

The recording of Parker trying to give himself a home-brewed migraine made its way onto YouTube where it was gradually building up hits before global megabrat Justin Bieber posted it on his Instagram account this Tuesday, with the caption: ‘This is how I felt when I woke up this morning’.

Now I’m far too young to hypothesise why the one time child superstar might be waking up with a headache on a school night, but suffice to say if he’d spent a little bit more time being a positive role model to his trillions of young fans, he might have won a gold star like Parker’s by now.

Think on Bieber.

I Now Know...

... don’t judge a film by its title. If you’d told me a movie as dull sounding as ‘50 Shades of Grey’ would create such a fuss, I’d have called you a noodle. Mine and Big Bro Fred’s parentals haven’t been persuaded to buy tickets yet though.. Mum said the only way she’s watch it was if she was tied up. Then she and Dad laughed a lot. Me and Fred didn’t understand what was funny and so returned to our current preferred brand of humour - balloon fights.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Madonna arrives at the 57th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Los Angeles
Madonna arrives at the 57th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Los Angeles

... you don’t have to stop raiding the dressing up basket when you grow up. Madonna offered a masterclass in having fun with fancy dress whatever your age when she rocked up to the red carpet at the Grammy Awards in America last week. Good on you Mrs M. Warm arms sorted and headlines secured. Nicely done.

... the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion still seems to confuse people who are supposed to understand that sort of thing.

... just because you manage to gather some of the biggest film stars of the moment in one room, don’t think you’re guaranteed a night of top drawer entertainment. The Bafta Awards provoked more yawns in our living room than the afternoon following a double swimming lesson. Even the awards themselves didn’t look too chuffed to be there. Maybe next year, the sculptors could give them a wide smile from which everyone else could take their cue?

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire BAFTA Awards
BAFTA Awards

... when it comes to the evil that is hand dryers, I was right all along! Having had a violent aversion to those wall-mounted mongerers of scare for as long as I can remember, I was delighted to have my fear legitimised this week when a study found out that hand dryers in public toilets increase the germ count by 255%. And that is not a typo. I will be expecting a written apology from both Big Bro Fred and the parentals for three years worth of teasing and hand-washing ridicule.


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