On the weekend Labour HQ overrode the wishes of their electorate and selected Virginia Anderson over popular local identity Campbell Barry. He reminisces about the days he was earnestly campaigning for Jim Anderton’s New Labour Party.
Canvassing Dunedin’s working-class streets I was taken to task on doorstep-after-doorstep by a succession of narrow-eyed matrons as suspicious of my rounded middle-class vowels as they were contemptuous of the NLPs affirmative action policy.
“I don’t agree with quotas”, I was told over and over again. “You should pick the best person for the job.” With impressive prescience, these hard-bitten mothers and grandmothers demanded to know what the NLP would do “if your quota isn’t filled and you’ve got to choose between a really good man and an unsuitable woman? Are you really going to tell the best man to bugger off? Because if you are – then you needn’t bother coming around here asking for my vote.”
While Virginia Anderson is a good Labour candidate the party has made a mistake in Hutt South, and Chris Trotter thinks so too and for those same reasons he learned on the doorsteps of Dunedin.
Last weekend, Labour members in the Hutt South electorate gathered to choose a successor to their long-serving MP, Trevor Mallard. The choice they faced was between a popular local lawyer and city councillor, Campbell Barry, and a well-connected party insider, Virginia (Ginny) Andersen. Barry, who attended Wainuiomata High School, easily won the support of the Hutt South members present at the meeting, but he failed to convince the selectors representing the party’s New Zealand Council. By a narrow majority (4-3) the selection panel voted to install Ginny Andersen.
Bear in mind that Mallard holds Hutt South by just 709 votes, and that in 2014 National won the Party Vote by a margin of 6,745 votes. National’s candidate, Chris Bishop, is a strong campaigner and will only be prevented from lifting the seat in 2017 by a Labour candidate capable of putting a large and enthusiastic team of volunteers in the field. That is very hard to do when the local membership believes “Head Office” has ignored their preferences and imposed an unwanted “outsider” on the electorate.
Once again, I’m recalling that doorstep dialogue of thirty years ago: “I don’t agree with quotas. You should pick the best person for the job. What do you do if your quota isn’t filled and you’ve got to choose between a really good man and an unsuitable woman? Are you really going to tell the best man to bugger off? Because if you are – then you needn’t bother coming around here asking for my vote.”
This is Labour’s man ban in action. They need a few more females in electorates so they can protect David Parker, Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little on the list.
The Media party has already started wailing about Nationals front bench, caucus and list. National would do well to ignore their demands and keep selecting people on merit rather than quotas.
– The Daily Bog