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The Childcare Conversation: As Labour Realises Mistake Over EU Vanguard Stance, an Imagined Doorstep Chat

26/05/2015 14:52 BST | Updated 24/05/2016 10:59 BST

So the Labour Party has realised it made a mistake on Europe - people were telling them that they wanted a say on membership of the EU. Labour ignored them - and lost their traditional voters in droves.

During the election season, I saw responses from politicians of all colours when they were challenged about family friendly policies; when asked for help by families with single incomes; or when asked for ways to help a mother or father stay home instead of being forced into long hours away from their children. Yvette Cooper recently said that perhaps they could have listened more to people they had spoken to at, say, the school gates.

With this in mind, I can only guess at some of the chats they had in the pink bus - and the women they ignored in the process.

Harriet: So what are your concerns, young lady?

Mother: My family is really struggling by on one income and our family is being penalised for my staying home with the children. It's like nobody respects what I do. You keep talking about hardworking families as though that only includes both parents in employment. We are really struggling. Times are very hard.

Harriet: I see. We value families. We support parents. That is why we are promising X hours childcare.

Mother: Erm, I think you misunderstand.

Harriet: No I don't. You THINK you want to be with your family but you don't know what you want. You don't know what is best for you or the economy. You are letting down women by staying at home baking cupcakes all day. And you are right - we don't believe that you are hardworking. In fact, we believe that children do better being cared for by qualified professionals than in a mother's one-to-one care. We know better than you. NEXT!

Mother 2: I cannot bear being away from my one year old - I have to work full-time or else my family will not survive financially. If only there was a way to be with my child at home.

Harriet: I see. We value families. We support parents. That is why we are promising X hours childcare.

Mother 2: Erm, I think you misunderstand.

Harriet: No I don't. You THINK you want to be with your baby but you don't know what you want. You don't know what is best for you or the economy. You are a shining proud example of how women have been liberated from the drudgery of being at home. You are hardworking - just how we like it. We don't care that you are miserable, exhausted and would dearly love to stay with your kids and have some breathing space between the first and second shifts. We know better than you. NEXT!

Mother 3: I have a copy of the MAHMifesto for you to look at.

Harriet: [Fingers in ears] La la la la la la. NEXT!

Assistant: This next person wants out of Europe but has always voted Labour.

Harriet: Idiot. Don't they realise the job of politicians is to tell people what to do and how to think? She's an isolated example - like that guy in the white van. Tell her I am busy explaining our excellent childcare packages to these little women who don't seem to understand why it is a good thing. If only the electorate knew their place.

The Conservatives and the LibDems (remember them?) performed the very same trick of arrogantly ignoring, misrepresenting, diminishing, dismissing and belittling the concerns of parents and voters generally.

And now we have five years of a Conservative Government to enjoy in all its glory.

Happy days, everyone.

Happy days.

This piece originally appeared on the Politics of Mothering on 24 May 2015.