This MP showed off his painted nails in Parliament for a good cause (and to annoy the Daily Mail)
A male MP spoke in Parliament with painted nails today – after the Daily Mail made fun of male police officers in his constituency for painting their nails.
Darren Jones, the MP for Bristol North West, showed off his red nails this afternoon while speaking in the House of Commons.
The Member of Parliament was upset after the Sun and Daily Mail newspapers ran stories mocking officers in his local police force for painting their own nails.
The Bristol police officers had painted their nails as part of a campaign on modern slavery, after arrests were made at a local nail salon in connection with slavery offences.
Mr Jones decided the best way to show his support was to do the same.
The MP explained: “It is for all of us to make it clear that slavery continues to exist at every level of our society, including in my own constituency of Bristol North West.
“As recently as July this year, Avon and Somerset Police raided a nail bar in my constituency, arresting four people on suspicion of human trafficking and slavery offences. Further raids have happened in recent months.
“Nail bars are a common location that requires vigilance and local knowledge.
“I share other members’ concerns that the papers have reported a ‘backlash’ for Avon and Somerset constabulary for wanting to raise this issue in a way that communicates to people in their daily life.
“With thanks to the member for Bristol East and Bristol West, I too very proudly paint my nails today, in support of the Let’s Nail It campaign and Avon and Somerset Police.”
The MP also raised personal experiences in his constituency on slavery.
He said: “In one of my first surgeries as an MP, a constituent came to me with little English, unable to communicate the sheer disempowerment and lack of dignity that she had suffered through sexual exploitation.
“Thanks to the Modern Slavery Act and Modern Slavery Helpline, she is being supported, albeit with a very slow visa process.”
He tweeted photos of his fellow Bristol MPs Kerry McCarthy and Thangam Debbonaire helping him to paint his nails before the debate.
The MP added: “An unusual form of preparation for a debate in the House of Commons but happy to support the #LetsNailIt campaign today.”
He added afterwards: “Thanks for your assistance @KerryMP @ThangamMP – how do I get it off?!”
The gesture won praise from Labour MP Jess Philips, who said: “Brilliant speech and very well polished nails on Darren Jones to highlight #Letsnailit campaign to highlight modern slavery in nail bars”.
The Sun and Daily Mail newspapers ran with front-page splashes mocking a male officer from Avon and Somerset Police with blue nails.
The campaign was launched by charity Unseen, which works to tackle slavery, after a spate of incidents involving slaves and unpaid workers being used as employees in nail salons.
But the Sun branded it a “stunt” and a “gimmick”, decrying “the boys in blue varnish”. The article bizarrely attempted to contrast the nail-painting to a rise in crime.
The Daily Mail also picked up the story, claiming “their increasingly bizarre gimmicks are undermining the job of tackling crime”.
Tory MP David Davies – a vocal opponent of gender-fluidity and LGBT rights – jumped on the bandwagon to attack the campaign.
He said: “There’s no way I would have painted my nails — it’s not going to help you catch enslavers, is it?”
But Avon and Somerset Police hit back at the criticism.
It said in a statement: “We are disappointed to read to of the comments on our #AntiSlaveryDay tweets yesterday.
“Our aim was to make people look out for signs of modern slavery and understand how to report it.
“Nail bars are at risk of modern slavery so some officers were pictured with painted nails on Anti Slavery Day to raise awareness of an issue they care about.
“anyone found these comments offensive, please report them to Twitter. If you feel you were targeted and are the vicrim of a hate crime, please report this to us.
“We take this issue extremely seriously.”
The campaign attracted support from some figures, including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
He tweeted: “@ASPolice congratulations on raising the profile of the curse of modern slavery in the UK. #AntiSlaveryDay #LetsNaiIit”
Channel 4 show The Last Leg tore into the Sun over its “sh*t-stirring” coverage.
Host Adam Hills explained: “The Sun also criticised police officers in Avon and Somerset for wearing blue nail varnish to highlight the plight of underpaid workers in the beauty industry.
“We’ve got the front page here. Why are the Sun picking on police?
“They’re facing just as many cuts to funding as every other public service, they’re the ones keeping us safe, and whenever there’s a terror attack we always praise the police.
“And yet the Sun is choosing to attack them for lovely gestures.
“We should celebrate the police forces, especially after the hashtag #ProtectTheProtectors highlighted the abuse they get on a daily basis.”
Unseen also defended the police forces taking part, retweeting supportive messages from people criticising the Mail.
A release from Unseen said: “The Government estimates that there are 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK… but this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“A recent report from the Anti-Slavery Commissioner into trafficking routes from Vietnam, highlights the problem of human trafficking into nail bars throughout the UK.”
It added: “Since launching in October 2016, the Modern Slavery Helpline has received reports of slavery in nail bars from at least 18 cities across the UK, indicating over 70 victims. 11 of which have been children.
“Crucial to tackling slavery in nail bars is making sure potential customers are aware of the issue. Many customers don’t know the reasons why some salons are so cheap to visit.
“That’s why Unseen is launching the Let’s Nail It campaign, highlighting this insidious crime within the beauty industry.”
“Unseen is partnering with The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) and nail salons across the country.
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“These nail salons are talking to their customers about the signs of modern slavery and telling people it’s crucial to stay vigilant. Unseen is also launching a Let’s Nail It! social media campaign, encouraging people to paint their nails neon in colour and put two fingers up to modern slavery.
“So, this October Unseen is asking you to take a stand against slavery in nail bars. Trust your instinct, spot the signs and report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline. Together, Lets Nail It.”
Campaign manager Hannah Young says, “The success of Let’s Nail It! will lie with people who are going about their day as normal, and suddenly get a feeling that something they’ve seen isn’t quite right.
“Do prices seem ‘too good to be true’? Is the vibe you’re getting making you feel uncomfortable? If you can’t quite put your finger on it but you feel that some something isn’t right, you can report suspicions online.”