The Dim-Post

September 27, 2013

High Trotterism, or What do women voters want?

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 9:22 am

This Herald column by Massey University lecturer Damien Rogers is a target rich environment, so I’ll restrict myself to a few points:

When Labour Party president Moira Coatsworth and general secretary Tim Barnett influenced recent decisions to select Meka Whaitiri to fill the vacancy left by Parekura Horomia, and Poto Williams to fill the vacancy left by Lianne Dalziel, they sent a strong message to the voting public, party members and party affiliates.

The message is that under their leadership, the Labour Party is gearing up for – when it is not already waging – a war for gender equality and minority rights.

Interested observers could be forgiven for thinking Coatsworth and Barnett are no longer, if indeed they ever were, committed to winning the next election.

Both seem more concerned that their reform agenda attracts international attention for its pyrrhic victory in addressing gender equality and minority rights within the narrow confines of the Labour Party.

The fact that the battles over gender equality and minority rights were largely decided elsewhere during the early 1980s seem to have passed Coatsworth and Barnett by. The quota-based approach favoured by the Labour Party leadership not only fails to evade the ugly structures of gender and ethnic discrimination, but helps to strengthen those structures.

I suspect Dr Rogers is about to have a number of robust conversations with his female colleagues and students over his allegation that gender equality was won in the early 1980s (why the early 1980s? Because that’s when ‘9 to 5′ starring Dolly Parton came out?) and I wish him luck there because he’s going to need it.

Firstly, the issue of women as minority voters: according to the 2011 New Zealand Electoral Survey, 55% of the people who cast votes in the 2011 election were female. So this is one of those interesting minority groups that is actually larger than the majority group of male voters. Which is the minority. If you follow me.

Secondly, female voters are swing voters. In 2005 – the last election won by the Labour Party – 48% of eligible female voters voted for the Labour Party. In 2011 only 25% gave their party vote to Labour. So targeting female voters isn’t so much a frivolous politically correct waste of time, as it is vital to Labour’s chances of winning back government. Finally, according to the NZES a plurality of female voters would like to see more female MPs in Parliament. I thought that the ‘man ban’ was a terrible idea. But trying to use the lists to increase the number of female MPs in the Labour Party is a smart thing to do. Women vote! More than men! And women want more female MPs in Parliament!

Update: Someone in the comments section alleges that the column was written by the partner of Labour’s recently dismissed Chief of Staff (Fran Mold wrote in to say that she wasn’t dismissed, so let us say ‘recently departed Chief of Staff). Which might explain a few things.

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63 Comments »

  1. And women want more [women] MPs in Parliament!

    Evidence needed.

    Also, don’t get in a debate with people over whether women are a minority. There’s no way out. You either agree from the outset, or you’ll simply speak past each other.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 27, 2013 @ 9:26 am

  2. This woman wants people in parliament based on their merit.

    Comment by homepaddock — September 27, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  3. Well, women hold a “minority” of the power in this society, and we still assume that the default human being who is entitled to hold political office or have high paid jobs is a white man. This is changing, but very, very slowly. There’s still a gender pay gap, at least some of which can’t be explained by the obvious factor of time taken out for childcare, and the proportion of women in Parliament in New Zealand has plateaued at about 35%. So, not a minority in numeric terms, but women are definitely under represented in Parliament.

    Comment by Deborah — September 27, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  4. You’ll be needing to explain how Aaron Gilmore got in there then, Ele.

    Comment by Deborah — September 27, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  5. This woman wants people in parliament based on their merit.

    Also a popular choice with 31% of female voters responding that being an MP should ‘Depend on the candidate.’ 35% simply wanted more female MPs, 22% the same, 2% wanted fewer female MPs and 7% didn’t know.

    Comment by danylmc — September 27, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  6. I suspect the worry is that many of the women selected will be “token” women candidates, selected to make up the numbers rather than selected on their merits. I think homepaddock’s comment, above, is highly relevant.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — September 27, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  7. Given that Dr Rogers is the partner of Fran Mold, I think his piece can probably stand as an insight into the confused Blairism of Labour’s communications strategy under Shearer.

    It is also a rather clumsy and transparently bitchy attempt at tittle-tattle Utu from the particularly jaundiced perspective of a loser in the outcome of the Labour leadership race, published in a paper with a rattled editorial staff scared shitless that David Cunliffe might actually turn out to be not of a full blooded neo-liberal persuasion.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 27, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  8. I suspect the worry is that many of the women selected will be “token” women candidates, selected to make up the numbers rather than selected on their merits

    Aren’t you more worried that gender discrimination means that many of our male MPs are unmerited token candidates, and that female candidates with merit aren’t being selected because of their gender? Or are there ALWAYS more men than women in Parliament simply because men are more awesome?

    Comment by danylmc — September 27, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  9. Firstly, the issue of women as minority voters…

    To be fair to Damien Rogers, the section you’ve quoted doesn’t say or imply that female voters are a minority – he refers consistently to gender equality and minority rights, ie two separate things.

    You’re right about the fun conversations he’s in for, though – Massey’s not short of female academics with a somewhat more realistic assessment of whether gender issues were sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction back in the 80s…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 27, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  10. It’s just another restatement of the identity politics vs class debate.

    Women might be important swing voters but will they be more swayed by identity issues or economic issues.

    ie will Labour be better served by focusing on how many women MPs there are or by how difficult it is to get a job and earn decent money.

    It’s of course a simplistic dualism but there’s a truth there and it is a debate that’s gone on for a long time.

    Comment by NeilM — September 27, 2013 @ 10:06 am

  11. Let’s just review the “merit” based selections of Labour by-election candidates, in the previous term …

    Mt Albert. Bloke. Leader’s mate.
    Mana. Bloke. Leader’s press secretary.
    Botany. Bloke. Leader’s mate.
    Te Tai Tokerau. Bloke. Leader’s supporter in caucus.

    Subsequent election result in 2011 … OK, you know this one.

    I’ve got no problem wanting candidates chosen on merit. I’ve got a BIG problem believing that’s what Labour have been doing.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 27, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  12. You’ll be needing to explain how Aaron Gilmore got in there then, Ele.

    Because the system is imperfect? Is there anything inconsistent in wanting politicians to be selected on merit, but also recognising that this doesn’t always succeed?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 27, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  13. “…Because the system is imperfect? Is there anything inconsistent in wanting politicians to be selected on merit, but also recognising that this doesn’t always succeed?…”

    Concerned trolls gonna troll.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 27, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  14. Oh you are undoubtedly right, danyl, that there are also token men. Any system involving people and emotions about any issue will have problems.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — September 27, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  15. With regard to selection on merit, I note that in the recent Labour leadership contest, all of the candidates were male – even if not all white. As far as I’m aware, nobody queried the candidate slate as to whether it was biased, or that the quality of the candidates was perhaps lower than might have been the case had one of them been female. Yet this issue – quality of candidates and bias – was exactly the one raised at the time of the furore over the so-called “man ban”.

    Discrimination on the basis of gender is alive and well, despite protestations to the contrary. There is evidence – adduced by Andrew Geddis at the time of the above-mentioned controversy – to support the introduction of quotas, so as to improve female representation in Parliament. Quotas may not, in the end, have been necessary in other areas of employment (although some may disagree), but politics seems to have its own peculiarities in this regard.

    Comments at the time suggest that even some women can’t see discrimination when it’s staring them in the face; some of the comments above illustrate this. I guess it’s been so much a part of our lives that it’s not surprising, really.

    Comment by Merrial — September 27, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  16. Concerned trolls gonna troll.

    I’m not sure what you mean. Ele wants candidates selected on merit. That does not mean that she thinks that the current system actually selects on merit, just that any reforms should move in that direction, rather than in a direction of not selecting on merit. Is there something inherently contradictory in such a view?

    {apologies to Ele if I am mistating her views}

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 27, 2013 @ 11:53 am

  17. Mt Albert. Bloke.

    The reality is you’re not going to get selected if you don’t have support from a particular clique.

    Shearer had that and it didn’t work out too well. I thought at the time it should have gone to Ardern who is younger, had promise and had paid her dues.

    Instead the golden prize of a safe seat went to the anointed.

    So merit is one if many considerations.

    Comment by NeilM — September 27, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  18. > Or are there ALWAYS more men than women in Parliament simply because men are more awesome?

    I thought voters determined who got elected. Are you suggesting that isn’t the case?

    Comment by Ross — September 27, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

  19. I thought voters determined who got elected. Are you suggesting that isn’t the case?

    Yep.

    Comment by danylmc — September 27, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  20. With regard to selection on merit, I note that in the recent Labour leadership contest, all of the candidates were male – even if not all white.

    Isn’t it more pertinent to consider – dare I say it – what class the candidates (purport to) represent rather than whether or not they had cocks, who they put them in, or what colour said appendages are?

    At least there is no real ambiguity on the right in NZ. Irrespective of how meritorious, how compentent, what skincolour or what gender your candidate is, you pretty much know what they represent. The same cant easily be said for the nominal left.

    I thought voters determined who got elected. Are you suggesting that isn’t the case?

    Ross – if your consideration set is five turds or varying shape, size and aroma, you’re still going to get a shit representative.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 27, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

  21. Gregor

    I’m not entirely saw what you’re saying but I’ll remind you that voters voted for Alamein Kopu and Aaron Gilmore. And in the case of Winston Peters, I suspect many voters voted for him on multiple occasions, which suggests they are a devil for punishment.

    Comment by Ross — September 27, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

  22. saw or sure!

    Comment by Ross — September 27, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

  23. Ross – what I’m saying is that voters don’t always determine who gets elected.

    In the case of electorate candidates, the pool is pre-selected by the party. If all parties field blokes then cleary, voters who might prefer to elect a female dont get that option.
    In the party vote, you really have no idea you are getting until the percentage comes in.

    So in effect, who you are getting – in the larger sense – is entirely up to the party machinery.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 27, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

  24. Yep, Gregor, of all the parties in Parliament Labour MPs have the biggest authenticity problem. Their MPs are a bit like missionaries to darkest workingclassland gone (or gorn) to Parliament to protect the natives’ rights.

    Comment by Tinakori — September 27, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  25. Jesus, the Man Ban again? I wonder how long this is going to be relitigated.

    As for the whole ‘are women a minority’ thing, the word has two meanings – there’s the literal sense, but then there’s the political sense, where, as Deb says, it refers to groups who are persecuted and have difficulty accessing power. ‘Minority’ might not be the most natural word, but it’s disingenious to pretend that one doesn’t know the second term exists.

    Comment by Hugh — September 27, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  26. I think it’s daft for cloistered academics to invent new meanings for old words and expect everyone else to know that they are talking about their special new definition, not the old one.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — September 27, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  27. Correct if I’m wrong Danyl but I remember reading a blog post from rob hosking(?), showing that a lot of people told NZES that they voted when if fact that didn’t.. if this is true, I would have doubts about how accurate “55% of the people who cast votes in the 2011 election were female” info is.

    Comment by K2 — September 27, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

  28. Correct if I’m wrong Danyl but I remember reading a blog post from rob hosking(?), showing that a lot of people told NZES that they voted when if fact that didn’t.

    About 5% of the applicants said they voted but did not vote. Maybe Rob felt this invalidated the dataset for some reason, but the population size is large and the comparable values – like turnout and party vote – synch up with actual election results. It’s accurate.

    Comment by danylmc — September 27, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  29. Are you suggesting K2 that some of the respondents who claimed to be women weren’t?

    Comment by MeToo — September 27, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  30. If y’all haven’t read the Colonel Trottsplaining what “Waitakere man” was really all about to Damien Rogers, then, you’re welcome:

    http://t.co/9m1HHCusTJ

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 27, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

  31. “Correct if I’m wrong Danyl but I remember reading a blog post from rob hosking(?), showing that a lot of people told NZES that they voted when if fact that didn’t.”

    Nah. Not me. Never written about it.

    “Update: Someone in the comments section alleges that the column was written by the partner of Labour’s recently dismissed Chief of Staff. Which might explain a few things.”

    Hmm. So your views are strong influence on the advice Maggie is giving the Greens?

    Comment by Rob Hosking — September 28, 2013 @ 4:48 am

  32. So your views are strong influence on the advice Maggie is giving the Greens?

    If she left after a change of leadership and I wrote a column attacking the party a week later I’d consider it highly unethical not to mention our relationship.

    Comment by danylmc — September 28, 2013 @ 4:52 am

  33. Some may believe the Herald are rattled by Cunliffe, but when I read John Hamstrung’s takes on the new leader of the opposition, I can practically imagine said journalist in cheerleader garb waving pom-poms. And he’s a man.

    I think the Herald is very consistent in its standards: it’s editorial leadership tends to allow writers to pontificate according to their personal predilictions. If people don’t notice the fawning, then it still ‘passes’ as journalism.

    I didn’t really know anything about Fran Mold, until I saw her reporting the first National victory on the television. She looked like she wanted to throw up, and did nothing to disguise that. To my mind it came off as unprofessional and biased.

    So what we got? Two separate ‘objective’ media outlets allowing their journalists to wear their political hearts on their sleeves, in their personalised missions to influence public perception. At least one who joined her chosen party as an employee, and another who is her partner, it turns out.

    But when it goes wrong, suddenly moral crusades about ‘objectivity’ ‘bias’ and fair-play emanate from the very people who,when the wind is blowing right for them, are only too happy to exploit the incestuous situation to the benefits of their own egos or wallets.

    Can’t stay, I have to go and kick my dog now.

    Comment by Lee C — September 28, 2013 @ 6:43 am

  34. Lee, Damien Rogers is not a Herald employee and he is not a journalist. He submitted an opinion piece, something anyone can do. The Herald runs these one-off columns most days, from a range of perspectives. Conflating his column with some sort of Herald line is wrong. Armstrong and the Herald, Mold and TVNZ – yes, but Rogers and the Herald – no.

    There is nothing stopping anyone here from writing an op-ed for them – keep it to 800 words, keep it simple (what a moderately intelligent 12 year old might read and comprehend) and preferably write about something that will attract a lot of comments.

    Comment by MeToo — September 28, 2013 @ 10:08 am

  35. @Exclamation Mark: Damn those cloistered academics!

    Language changes, deal with it. (Or if you really can’t, go back to Beowulf-speak)

    Comment by Hugh — September 28, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  36. Hi MeToo

    Thanks for the correction – I appreciate your comment about the ‘opinion’ piece Damien penned and how it happens.

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as ‘conflation’ but, I feel that The Herald (and other forms of media) on occasion provide journalists with the means to forget their duty to report objectively. It’s not a ‘line’ – it’s just dereliction. Damien’s opinions, and how he writes them, hardly appears unusual, in style or substance next to the work of some other ‘more serious’ writers.

    Comment by Lee C — September 29, 2013 @ 8:31 am

  37. “voters who might prefer to elect a female dont get that option.”

    Yeah because barriers to running in an electorate election are so very high.

    Comment by Swan — September 29, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  38. I’m most curious to see if the same old drumbeats will continue to work. Saying that Labour’s about identity politics, and also far left, continually, might finally actually give more people a reason to vote for them that they didn’t have when they were simply trying to be National with a bit more tax. It’s not like the supposed focus on identity politics prevented Clark from getting 9 years, nor have National actually done anything much to turn the clock back on it. They are so vulnerable now. What a difference a few months makes.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 29, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  39. I’m most curious to see if the same old drumbeats will continue to work…. also far left

    The far left line sounds quite different when L?G are ahead of you in the polls I suspect.

    It’s one thing to say ‘those clowns we are whipping in the polls are radicals who are out of step with everyone’, it’s delusional to try and say it when more people like them than you.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 29, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  40. “I’m most curious to see if the same old drumbeats will continue to work…. also far left”

    “The far left line sounds quite different when L?G are ahead of you in the polls I suspect.”

    National will remain ahead of Labour for the forseeable future. The key will be to tie Labour to the Greens. A lot of voters may not realise how powerful the Greens will be in a future Labour led government.

    Comment by swan — September 29, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  41. @swan What makes you think they’ll be any more powerful than the Alliance were? (e.g, not very)

    Comment by Hugh — September 29, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

  42. The numbers will be different. Labour will have less seats, the Greens more (than the Alliance). Labour will HAVE to go with the Greens. Labour had a choice in 99. The closer analogy is likely to be the 96 coalition.

    Comment by swan — September 29, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  43. Yes Lee, a sad commentary on journalists that their work can’t easily be distinguished from opinion pieces by political players.

    Comment by MeToo — September 29, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  44. Pretty sure Labour HAD (sic) to go with the Alliance back in 99 too.

    Comment by Hugh — September 29, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

  45. Labour will HAVE to go with the Greens. Labour had a choice in 99.

    Any alternative coalition arrangement for Labour in ’99 (i.e. one excluding the Alliance) would have had to include … the Greens.

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 30, 2013 @ 8:07 am

  46. Swan. National has been talking about the stalinist far left multi-headed devil beast that is the alternative to them governing for quite some time now.

    And yet the polls maintan their slow lurch towards Jerusalem, willing said rough beast to be born. At some point, national is going to have to face the fact that while they shifted to the centre to take power, they haven;t managed to shift the centre as much as they would have hoped. People aren;t stupid. they know that Labour will need the greens. It’s not a secret National can let them in on Just like they know that ACT doesn;t really exist anymore, and where those voters went.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 30, 2013 @ 8:47 am

  47. Yeah because barriers to running in an electorate election are so very high.

    swan – the last idependant elected to Parliament was in ’93 (and that was Winston leveraging his cachet as incumbent and former party man) so I would say that the barriers are in fact quite high if a candidate is not part of established party machinery.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 30, 2013 @ 11:05 am

  48. “People aren;t stupid. they know that Labour will need the greens.” They will come the election campaign, but that is pretty beltway at the moment.

    “so I would say that the barriers are in fact quite high if a candidate is not part of established party machinery.”

    The alternative conclusion is that people don’t care that much about voting for X identity, and just vote along party lines.

    Comment by swan — September 30, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

  49. However I will grant you that MMP is an issue in this regard. It does not allow people to vote for specific candidates and so people cant vote for particular idenities with their party vote, if they wanted to.

    Comment by swan — September 30, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

  50. Although I guess you could say – if people really cared about voting for identity X, a party could form around that identity etc etc. (Ala Maori party).

    Comment by swan — September 30, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

  51. They will come the election campaign, but that is pretty beltway at the moment.

    And I’m sure you have polling to support this, it’s just a shame that your girlfriend, (who is a super hot model) took all the details back to her home in Perth, so unfortunatly you aren’t in a position to offer any evidence whatsoever.

    Either that, or people who know enough about politics to say they are switching votes, know how to add to fifty.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 30, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  52. @ Hugh

    “Language changes, deal with it. (Or if you really can’t, go back to Beowulf-speak)”

    I’ll happily deal with it when it does actually change, not when the likes of you think certain words now have a new, specialied definition to suit your ideology.

    Show me a link dictionary that defines the word ‘minority’ as meaning “groups who are persecuted and have difficulty accessing power”. The Oxford dictionary certainly doesn’t define it this way, but surely you can find nanother dictionary that’ll define it the way you want given you are so certain the word now has another literal meaning.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — September 30, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  53. The likes of me! /thread

    Comment by Hugh — September 30, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  54. Gee Hugh if you got asny more pretentious you’d be Sancywancy’s brother

    Comment by toby — September 30, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  55. Still waiting on my lifestyle block, sadly.

    Comment by Hugh — September 30, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  56. 1000m2 behind an industrial estate isn’t a lifestyle block but bless ‘im anyway.

    Comment by toby — September 30, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

  57. You’re quite the committed troll aren’t you, leon/tim/lil stevie/toby/wanker?

    Comment by Judge Holden — September 30, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

  58. No.

    Comment by toby — October 1, 2013 @ 4:51 am

  59. Yeah, he is a dictionary perfect troll and as such best ignored.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 1, 2013 @ 7:25 am

  60. Got off the point a bit, haven’t you? No amount of semantic gymnastics or insult-trading alters the fact that the numbers of women in Parliament aren’t proportionate to our numbers in the population; this was the reason why that remit was proposed for the Labour party conference.

    This cannot be anything other than discrimination; evidence from other spheres of society shows that the possession – or otherwise – of dangly genitals entails nothing about a person’s competence to do a job. The same must be true of politics. There’s no reason to suppose that women are less willing to enter politics than other occupations. Suggestions to the contrary sound patronising and self-serving to me.

    Comment by Merrial — October 1, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  61. I agree with Merrial.

    Comment by toby — October 1, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  62. No amount of semantic gymnastics or insult-trading alters the fact that the numbers of straight people in Parliament aren’t proportionate to their numbers in the population but you don’t see straight quotas being proposed for the Labour party conference.

    This cannot be anything other than discrimination; evidence from other spheres of society shows that heterosexuality entails nothing about a person’s competence to do a job. The same must be true of politics. There’s no reason to suppose that heterosexuals are less willing to enter politics than other occupations. Suggestions to the contrary sound patronising and self-serving to me.

    Comment by Katy — October 2, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  63. Katy,

    Your VERY clever ideological ju-jitsu aside, there are 6 openly gay/lesbian MPs in the House – or 5% of the 121 members. There may be some more closeted ones, plus a number of bi-sexual members.

    What about these numbers leads you to believe “straight” MPs are underrepresented, compared to the general population? Answer with reference to the fact 35% of MPs are women, while 51% of the population is and explain why your comment wasn’t just really, really dumb.

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 2, 2013 @ 7:38 pm


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