Vote, vote vote for Upsy Daisy

Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy and the Haahoos are going to be big. <em>In the Night Garden</e

Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy and the Haahoos are going to be big. When they bounce on to the television screen, they can stun a hyperactive child into a Buddhistic trance within seconds. My two-year-old is hooked. So are all his little friends. Soon, they will be in every living room in the country and that can mean only one thing - every politician in the land will want a piece of the action.

Igglepiggle and his pals are a few of the principal characters of In the Night Garden, an underground world that is understood only by children and is a complete mystery to their mothers and fathers.

This emerging television cult is so powerfully mesmeric that it will embed itself in the collective memories of a generation. For NS readers who do not have children under the age of four, let me explain. CBBC - the BBC children's channel without advertisements - has just started screening the second series of a toddlers' television show destined to grip the nation.

Igglepiggle, a small humanoid soft toy with a Cameroonian blue sheen, is always losing his red blanket. When he sleeps, he is carried off in a boat over starlit seas to a magical kingdom. There his adventures begin. As in all good children's television, he always finds his blanket in the end.

In the Night Garden is the new Andy Pandy. It also has a touch of the genius of Oliver Postgate, creator of Bagpuss and The Clangers. His simple, wholesome characters occupied a world without irony, cynicism or deceit. Then again, Postgate is George Lansbury's grandson and his father co-authored The Common People with the socialist thinker and historian G D H Cole, so that shouldn't be a great surprise.

As with all new underground movements and emerging subcultures, politicians ignore this trend at their peril. So I implore the left to start now to win the battle of interpretation. In the way that Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies became a gay icon (and seen by some on America's religious right as a symbol potent enough to threaten the very existence of mankind), so, too, Igglepiggle will come to symbolise a new political era. And, just as the Postgate classic Ivor the Engine became an allegory for the simple, clean-living ways of working-class people in South Wales, so will Upsy Daisy, "a brown-faced smiley rag doll who keeps losing her bag", come to embody multiculturism in Britain.

If you haven't heard of Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle yet, you will by Christmas. A range of In the Night Garden merchandise has already been launched at the Hamleys store in London.

By the party conference season, there will not be a speech without a reference to the Ninky Nonk, "a psychedelic train shaped like a teapot", or the honest ways of the Tombliboos, "very small people who live in a tree".

Labour and the left cannot afford to let this powerful iconography fall into the hands of Boris Johnson, or the Tory special adviser Steve Hilton and other propagandists of the right. Trust me on this.

Tom Watson is MP for West Bromwich East