This whole “man ban” thing has got me thinking. Just who exactly is in control of Labour?
Oh dear. I really didn’t think it was possible for Labour to top its own goal over the Sky City corporate box debacle. But it has.
After a week where the Government ought to be on the back foot over the GCSB saga, Auckland’s nutty property market, and the death throes of one of its coalition partners, Labour has come out with a policy so politically barmy it makes you wonder whether it really has any interest in winning the next election.
Labour’s Wimmin’s Division is proposing that the party introduce quotas in some of its keenly contested electorates so that only women can be selected as candidates.
It’s proposing a target of 45 per cent women in caucus in 2014 and 50 per cent in 2017 – despite the fact that already 41 per cent of its caucus are female.
The plan is stupid on so many levels it’s difficult to know where to start.
The plan was cooked up lower down the party and has passed through all levels including the policy committee that David Shearer sits on. To think this wouldn’t blow up in their faces beggars belief.
Colin then outlines why it is lunacy.
For starters it’s unnecessary. Labour already has far more women in Parliament than any other political party. It can boast to have produced New Zealand’s first elected female prime minister – and one of its most successful. The Labour movement has produced inspirational women in all walks of public and corporate life and who have set New Zealand at the forefront of the fight for gender equality internationally.
It’s outdated. Quotas are unfashionable unless they concern orange roughy or snapper. They were popular among affirmative action proponents in America in the 1970s. At a time when there is real debate over whether we need the Maori seats given the success of Maori politicians generally, Labour is proposing turning back the clock.
It’s divisive. The policy will infuriate at least half of the wider Labour Party – probably more. Candidate selections are often fiercely contested. If male candidates are banned in some electorates there will be hell to pay, and the media will have a field day.
Last, it’s ghastly politics. Labour already has the left-wing feminist vote in the bag. But that isn’t enough. It also needs the blue-collar conservative male vote to regain power. It’s just blown that right out of the water.
Anyone can see this is a touchstone issue. The fact that the policy wonks in Labour can’t or won’t says more about them than it does about the rest of society.
Labour has always struggled with the public perception it was too politically correct, too feminist, and too much in the thrall of minority interest groups. It might have been unfair, but nonetheless this was the perception, particularly during the Helen Clark years.
Already the media has dubbed this new proposal Labour’s “man ban”. I can just see the party’s strategists smashing their heads against the nearest brick wall.
Snigger…ahem…it was me that coined the term “man ban”.
David Shearer has – after initially stating the policy had “some merit” – realised he’s dealing with a political bomb and come out against the policy, saying he favours targets rather than quotas. Senior Labour MPs Phil Goff, Shane Jones, and Andrew Little immediately recognised the damage the proposal would do and have denounced it too.
Interesting point and one that deserves investigating. David Shearer sits on the policy committee. I can;t imagine any political party where if the leader is against something that it makes it through. Winston Peters wouldn’t tolerate it, John Key wouldn’t either. So the question media need to be asking now is whether or not David Shearer was for it before he was agin it. Did he support it at policy committee or did he get rolled.
If he was rolled is he really in command of his party?
But it may be too late. This idea needed to be taken out and quietly shot before it ever saw the light of day. From now until it’s debated at Labour’s annual conference in November, Labour’s opponents will have a field day.
The Opposition needs to be talking to the electorate about jobs, housing, incomes, and hip-pocket issues. Not navel-gazing about its gender balance. The public, to be frank, doesn’t give a toss whether Labour has 41 per cent women MPs or 50 per cent. They just want good candidates and good policies.
I’d say the two month timeframe to roll Shearer has been moved up. These sorts of inept own goals do not endear MPs to a leader. The problem is though whether or not there will be a party left to be leader of.