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.