REDDITCH’S Labour hopeful has batted away criticism of the party’s ‘Barbie bus’ claiming the issues women faced were more important than a colour.
The party’s new device for attracting more female voters – a pink bus which will be touring 70 constituencies ahead of May’s General Election – has been criticised by opposition politicians and online commenters.
But Rebecca Blake told the Standard, while she would not have personally chosen the colour for a bus, it was ‘insignificant’ compared to the issues faced by women under the current government.
“I’m quite pleased one way or another the message is getting across Labour do want to hear from women,” she said.
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who will be touring the country in the bus, last visited Redditch in 2012 after a spate of metal thefts, which Ms Blake said showed she knew it was important to listen to concerns and act on them.
“I’m pleased she is making a big deal about wanting to hear from women and I’ve made my request for her to come and hear from Redditch women.
“When I speak to women on the doorstep they are worried about the future of the NHS and losing maternity from the Alex, household budgets are tight with fuel bills still not falling in line with wholesale prices and affording childcare can be out of reach for many. Labour need to hear from more women and this is one way of doing it.”
Karen Lumley MP raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (February 11), saying what women needed was help for them and their families, not to be ‘patronised’ by a pink bus to ‘reach out’ to them.
“Women are doing well in Redditch, they’re running businesses, working hard and doing the best for their families.”
She added the Government had extended flexible working to all employees, introduced a new system of shared parental leave and extended tax free childcare, with the highest number of women in work on record and in our area over 50 per cent fewer women were unemployed.