Sarah Richardson, a Labour campaigner in Milton Keynes, shares her experiences of working with other local Labour women on a recent Day of Action:
Inspired by the Fawcett Society’s ‘Day of Action’, Milton Keynes Women’s Group held a Christmas ‘Don’t Turn Back Time’ street stall on Saturday 17th December. Representatives from the women’s group took to the high street in Stony Stratford to speak to people about how the coalition’s approach to cutting the deficit is turning back the clock on women’s equality. Women are being disproprtionately affected by cuts, and this was certainly backed up by the experiences from women who stopped to speak to us. One woman, a casualty of a 20 year record for women’s unemployment told me how since losing her job she has had to move back into her mother’s house, and is currently sharing a bed with her young daughter. The cavalier attitude the government is taking toward’s womens lives and equalities is all too clear.
Dressing with a 50s theme to reinforce the message certainly got us a few funny looks, and comments about our dedication! I ditched my coat, which was not appropriate for the time period, and slowly felt all feeling disappear from my brogue-shod feet. In spite of the cold, it was well worth it, as many women and men stopped to talk about their disappointment with the current coalition government, with the NHS a particularly emotive topic for many.
Joined by our parliamentary candidate for MK South there was lively debate from Christmas shoppers, but the main feeling I took home with me was that there were a lot of women who seemed pleasantly surprised to see other women standing (in the cold!) up for issues affecting them. With a government determined to move backwards on fairness and equality, it was fun and inspiring to feel part of a fightback. Thanks must go to the Fawcett Society for the original campaign day. Getting dressed up meant that people stopped to look and talk, and many took home a campaign leaflet and discussed their concerns and ideas with us. It was a great way to engage with the public, and hopefully showed local women that MK Labour are determined to stand up and be counted.