Thomas The Tank Engine is to blame for the lack of female train drivers in the UK, according to Labour's shadow transport secretary.
Mary Creagh has said the popular children's series is detrimental to children – setting a bad example – and claimed that more female characters are in urgent need.
Explaining how girls should be more encouraged by the TV show, she described the lack of women train drivers as a "national scandal."
"Negative stereotypes" portrayed in children's television, like Thomas The Tank Engine, are partly to blame, she argued.
All the main characters in the show - Thomas, James, Edward, Henry, Gordon, Percy and even the Fat Controller - are male.
The only female characters in the original books were coaches Annie and Clarabel, Isabel the auto coach, Mrs Kyndley, an elderly lady, and Daisy, a female engine.
Mrs Creagh said: "In the Thomas the Tank Engine books there are almost no female engines. The only female characters are an annoyance, a nuisance and in some cases a danger to the functioning of the railway.
"There is a preponderance of men in the transport industry and I am very keen to unpack some of the myths that stop women from taking up what are often highly paid and highly skilled jobs."
Thomas and his male pals compare unfavourably with Underground Ernie, a popular animated series on CBeebies, she said.
"There have been some changes. Underground Ernie is wonderful, and there are some female trains in that. But again it is called Underground Ernie, not Underground Rosie," she said.
But many took to Twitter to defend the beloved children's TV show:
Labour bunker: "what do we want our big Xmas season message to be? Tax? NHS? Immigration? Education? Nah - anti-Thomas the Tank Engine"— Alex Deane (@ajcdeane) December 27, 2013
Labours transport policy based on kids tv programme. And people called us Ukipers Fruitcakes + Loons!! http://t.co/hi2PdJlqvp— Daniel McNally (@DanielMcNally3) December 27, 2013
Mary Creagh's comments about Thomas the Tank Engine are as goofy as the hype suggests. Would embarrass a Lambeth councillor circa 1987.— Janan Ganesh (@JananGanesh) December 27, 2013
UKIP have added to Labour's comments on Thomas The Tank Engine, demanding that the Wombles deport Uncle Bulgaria.— Chris Rowell (@ChrisWRowell) December 27, 2013
Mrs Creagh called on train companies recruit more female drivers by advertising in magazine's such as Good Housekeeping and Women's Own, and suggested that they need to offer more part time work.