The Dim-Post

October 13, 2016

Old data

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:38 am

I was thinking about this famous verse from a Baxter poem this morning:

On Calvary Street are trellises
Where bright as blood the roses bloom,
And gnomes like pagan fetishes
Hang their hats on an empty tomb
Where two old souls go slowly mad,
National Mum and Labour Dad.

And wondered: is there any historical data on demographics in NZ elections from the 1950s and 60s? Was National Mum and Labour Dad really a thing?

Update: Jackpot! From the comments, Swordfish linked to a post on this very subject written in July 2014;

Even before 1960, however, some enterprising university-based political scientists managed to carry out a small number of pre-Election polls in individual electorates. The first was in Wellington’s Mt Victoria seat in 1949. There were at least two more, one in 1957 (by R.S Milne in Wellington Central) and one in 1960. They tended to choose highly marginal seats on the basis that, given their limited resources, these could be considered a rough approximation of the Country as a whole. And their detailed data yielded some quite valuable insights. It had long been believed, for instance, that women were more socially and politically conservative than men and thus more likely to vote National.  (Hence, for instance, James K Baxter’s “National Mum and Labour Dad” in his Ballard of Calvary Street). Milne found that, although this common assumption was indeed true in Wellington Central, things were a little more complex than that. His poll suggested single people were at the extremes – single men far more likely than anyone else to vote Labour, single women far more likely than anyone else to vote National, withmarried couples much closer to each other in their political sympathies (albeit withmarried men still a little more Labour-leaning than married women).

 

35 Comments »

  1. I would have thought that at that time Mum would have been more liable to vote Labour, thanks to the Family Benefit which was paid to the mother.
    There is a story that one of my great aunts who was a family friend of the PM of the time, applied pressure to ensure that rather than it going to the father the mother got it.

    Comment by Ray — October 13, 2016 @ 8:26 am

  2. Hemi was describing his family, not a general situation. My mother voted National because my father did – she told me so when I was a kid. Loyalty of wives to husbands was the norm in those days. Women even did what they were told.

    My father was a hard-line Nat supporter, as was his father. He was the eldest son & so was I, so I was expected to toe the line & adhere to tradition, but realised in the mid-sixties I was a born rebel. My mother’s father was just as staunch a Labour man, from England. After christmas dinner the talk would eventually turn to politics, the tone would escalate until there was a raging argument, and one set of grandparents would storm out of the house slamming the front door behind them. This was in the fifties and after a few such occasions I wondered what the hell it was all about (being too young to get the gist).

    I was embraced by Hemi (the old hippie hug) when he visited his younger acolytes while I was living with them at the 405 New North Road crash-pad early ’72 & felt vaguely honoured, but found the blank look in his eyes disconcerting. Think he died later that year so perhaps that explains it. His combination of bare feet & tattered old sports-coat seemed peculiar – but the hippie style had by then degenerated into anything goes (even some bowler hats) so it was just another bizarre outfit really. Going naked around the house was actually the norm for our couple of dozen sometime residents that summer…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — October 13, 2016 @ 9:12 am

  3. In my house in the 70’s it was definitely the other way around.

    Comment by Brent — October 13, 2016 @ 9:13 am

  4. Brett – the walking around naked bit of the voting pattern bit?

    Comment by Gregor W — October 13, 2016 @ 9:16 am

  5. “is there any historical data on demographics in NZ elections from the 1950s and 60s? ”

    Is this seriously a question?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — October 13, 2016 @ 9:24 am

  6. is Ruth Butterworth still alive?

    Comment by Stephen — October 13, 2016 @ 9:39 am

  7. Cripes; I’d just read it as purely allegorical. “Labour Dad” makes sense as it was likely the men in the workforce and unions, and “National Mum” because the home domain represented stability, social order and conservatism. But the poem is surely not about any actual home or family, but a metaphor about a political system … all civilised and cosy on the surface … but lousy with unresolvable tensions and unspoken co-dependency underneath.

    Comment by RedLogix — October 13, 2016 @ 10:30 am

  8. Re #7: actually, you’re just as likely to be right. My automatic assumption that he was writing about his family was wrong. I’m no expert on poetry but poets often write about common experiences so as to comment on a general theme in society or culture, don’t they? And women often vote conservative to maintain the world they know.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — October 13, 2016 @ 11:05 am

  9. And women often vote conservative to maintain the world they know.

    **cough** Bullshit **cough**

    http://pnz.sagepub.com/content/65/1/25.short

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 13, 2016 @ 11:40 am

  10. My nana maintained that “nice people vote for National” whereas pop was a post master and more inclined to vote labour and later social credit.

    Comment by Eltalstro — October 13, 2016 @ 11:47 am

  11. Robert Chapman at Auckland University collected data from every polling booth in the country in the 1960s but I don’t know what research might have been done on gender splits in those days. Is Ruth Butterworth still alive? I think she might be, but I don’t think she arrived in NZ until the mid-60s so I doubt she did any research on NZ elections before then.

    Comment by MeToo — October 13, 2016 @ 11:48 am

  12. Re #9, possibly, FL, though I see your source has this verdict: “a gap does arise once gender differences in policy issue positions are controlled for, with women being more likely to support National than men.”

    I was recycling this perspective due to seeing in the past statistics which validated it, but can’t recall if they applied to other western countries and/or here. My psychological reason is more likely deserve your epithet if you consider that mercenary motives prevail – more economic security deriving from conservative votes.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — October 13, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

  13. “Habit, habit, clogs them dumb”

    It’s one of the few poems that has stuck with me over the years.

    Comment by Ataahua — October 13, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

  14. “And women often vote conservative to maintain the world they know.”

    Yeah, we’re just one big homogeneous group who all think the same.

    “Women even did what they were told.” – longing for the good ole days are you Dennis?

    Comment by Corokia — October 13, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

  15. Black humour: it’s not racist (or sexist).

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 13, 2016 @ 1:21 pm

  16. To be fair Corokia, women can’t think for themselves at all as they are merely an extension of their significant others.
    As a woman, your husband should have provided you with this opinion some time ago.

    Comment by Gregor W — October 13, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

  17. Careful now. Dennis can’t be sexist. He was against the Springboks tours, dontchano.

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 13, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

  18. My Mum said all the husbands would tell their wives to vote National and they told them that they did, but they actually voted Labour.

    Comment by Korakys — October 13, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

  19. Danyl: “And wondered: is there any historical data on demographics in NZ elections from the 1950s and 60s? Was National Mum and Labour Dad really a thing?”

    Yep. I wrote a bit on my blog about it under the title: ‘National Mum and Labour Dad’.
    http://sub-z-p.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/national-mum-and-labour-dad-few-minor.html

    Comment by swordfish — October 13, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

  20. See paragraph 6 of my July 2014 post (link above). (starting “Even before 1960 …”). Basically, single men far more likely than anyone else to vote Labour, single women far more likely than anyone else to vote National.

    Those were findings based on just one seat (Wellington Central) at both the 1957 and 1960 General Elections, mind you.

    Austin Mitchell and a number of other political scientists carried out quite a bit of pre-Election polling research in various electorates through the 1960s. I’ve got their analyses at home – but unfortunately I’m in the UK at the moment so don’t have access. Pretty sure their data included the gender divide.

    On top of that, Linda Moore has done some work (as part of Miles Fairburn’s Marsden Project) on men’s and women’s voting preferences in New Zealand Elections 1893-1919. (both an MA Thesis and as a chapter on Fairburn and Olssen’s ‘Class, Gender and the Vote’).

    Comment by swordfish — October 13, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

  21. test

    Comment by swordfish — October 13, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

  22. swordfish, that’s all very interesting, but could you please give us updates on all the cold brew coffee bars you’ve visited in Hoxton? Underground rave clubs in Clapham? What are the locals SAYING to you as you share a meal of baozi buns, Chengdu dan dan noodles and spicy cucumber salad?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 13, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

  23. I beginning to see what Sanctuary has to put up with. Wonderfully acerbic little bon mots from talented David Brent-types, currently at the height of their powers.

    Comment by swordfish — October 13, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

  24. See paragraph 6 of my July 2014 post

    Thanks! But FYI, answering my questions with cogent, empirical data isn’t really how the comments section works around here.

    Comment by danylmc — October 13, 2016 @ 4:43 pm

  25. How does “me father he was orange and me mother she was green” fit into this?

    Comment by Gareth Wilson — October 13, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

  26. But FYI, answering my questions with cogent, empirical data isn’t really how the comments section works around here.

    And yet you keep on asking us to do your googling for you … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 13, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

  27. Re #14: why assume someone reporting the facts about a culture are automatically endorsing that culture? If you identify Donald Trump as an arrogant, narcissistic, male chauvanist in conversation with someone, do you expect them to automatically intepret that as approval?

    Comment by Dennis Frank — October 13, 2016 @ 5:22 pm

  28. “I beginning to see what Sanctuary has to put up with. Wonderfully acerbic little bon mots from talented David Brent-types, currently at the height of their powers.”

    He called me talented!

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 13, 2016 @ 5:48 pm

  29. Dennis love, don’t worry: you know you didn’t mean to trigger anyone, we know you didn’t mean to trigger anyone, but psychologists are sure that the best way to become comfortable around irony and humour, is to be exposed to it.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 13, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

  30. #27- Dennis- Sorry can’t answer your question, cos hubby’s not home yet to explain it to me. You lost me at “facts”. What facts?

    Comment by Corokia — October 13, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

  31. It was actually normal in this country in the fifties for women to do what their husbands told them to do. You may not like the idea, but that’s the historical fact. I’m referring to the dominant social norm of the culture of the time.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — October 13, 2016 @ 7:13 pm

  32. It was actually normal in this country in the fifties for women to do what their husbands told them to do.

    Wait … now I’m totally confused … did Labour Dad just forget to tell National Mum how to vote?

    Comment by Flashing Light — October 13, 2016 @ 8:43 pm

  33. Metaphor! Baxter was preoccupied with the corrosive nature of conventional domestic life and sought a way to portray the background for the two birds pecking in their one fouled nest. National and Labour were actually opposites in those days….

    Comment by McNulty — October 13, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

  34. Well, in MY household when I tell my wife exactly how to vote and think and she just does the opposite. As, indeed she does in every aspect of our shared lives.
    I’m starting to notice a similar tendency in our offspring….

    Comment by leeharmanclark — October 14, 2016 @ 6:26 am

  35. @31 Someone forgot to tell my (Labour-voting) mother then – no wonder my sisters and I are a bunch of uppity women.

    Comment by jmcveagh — October 17, 2016 @ 3:42 pm


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