A male politician wore nail polish in Parliament today to raise awareness of modern slavery in nail bars around the country. Darren Jones, the Labour MP for Bristol North West, was showing support for police officers in his constituency who were mocked for tweeting pictures of their own colourful nails last week.
The officers' campaign, "Let's Nail It", seeks to shine a light on the signs of modern slavery, which range from physical signs of abuse to having no identification documents. They were criticised by one victims' charity for "engaging in odd gimmicks" rather than focusing their priorities on "catching gangmasters and traffickers".
But Jones praised the Avon and Somerset Police for "[raising the] issue on social media in a way that communicates to people in their daily lives to keep an eye out for where they see these activities happening", reported Pink News.
Jones said nail bars were common places to find modern slaves and victims of human trafficking, adding that four people were arrested in a nail bar for such offences in his constituency in July. He said his experience of meeting victims in Bristol meant he was proud to be "perhaps... the first male MP in the chamber" to wear nail polish in the House of Commons.
"In one of my first constituency surgeries as a new MP, a constituent came to me with little English, tearful, unable to communicate the sheer disempowerment and lack of dignity she had suffered from sexual exploitation in this country," he said.
"I share other members' concerns that the papers have reported a backlash against Avon and Somerset constabulary for wanting to raise this issue on social media in a way that communicates to people in their daily lives to keep an eye out for where they see these activities happening.
"And so with thanks to my honourable friends the members for Bristol East [Kerry McCarthy] and Bristol West [Thangam Debbonaire] – perhaps as the first male MP in the chamber – I too very proudly paint my nails today in support of the Let's Nail It campaign for Avon and Somerset police," he added. "It's not an endorsement for Eddie Izzard on the Labour NEC [national executive committee]."