Vernon Small at Stuff reports:
David Shearer has pushed the Labour Party into dumping its controversial “man ban” proposal that could have preserved some electorates for women-only candidates, but a related move to ensure that by 2017 at least 50 per cent of its MPs are women is set to go ahead.
This is the policy that if used in the past, would have seen Labour gain no male List MPs in 1996, 1999 and 2002. Michael Cullen would have failed to be elected as an List MP, under this proposal. Daft.
But the party’s stance on the party list remit appears to have caused confusion among MPs with some saying the effective “quota” had also been dropped, while others said there was no change to the proposal.
A spokesman for Mr Shearer later confirmed it was unchanged at this stage.
It says a lot when Labour’s own MPs don’t even know what the situation is.
Mr Shearer announced the U-turn on the “man ban” rule ahead of the party’s weekly caucus of MPs that insiders said was at times acrimonious, with supporters of the move targeting list MP Shane Jones in particular over his comments.
That would be the gelding comment.
That, in turn, sparked a flurry of rumours late on Monday about a possible leadership spill, emanating from both the Left and the “blokes” wings of the party.
Labour has more factions than MPs!
To hoots of derision from almost every quarter, the Labour Party’s proposal to exclude men from consideration for selection as candidates in some electorates – the so-called “man ban” – has been ditched.
The wonder, of course, is not that it was ditched, but rather that an proposal so maladroit ever saw the light of day with a party endorsement in the first place, and, having done so, that it took some time before Labour leader David Shearer could find his voice and move to quash it.
They’ve known about this for eight months!
The whole fiasco surrounding the proposal was another indication of division and disarray within Labour. It somehow gained the endorsement of the party’s national council as an idea for discussion at the national conference without Shearer, who is a member of the council, being aware of it. Even if he was not present at the council meeting that discussed it, he should have been able to rely on the good sense of his colleagues to scupper an idea that was such an obvious non-starter.
Then, by some unexplained misfortune, the idea leaked into the public arena by way of a popular blog deeply unsympathetic to Labour. Then, rather than seize the initiative and rapidly scotch the proposal, Shearer ducked reporters’ questions, dodged television interviews and dithered until yesterday, when the matter was finally laid to rest.
It is hardly original to note that if this is the way the party conducts its own affairs, it will need to work a lot harder to present itself as a potential alternative government.
Could you imagine them having to respond to a disaster like the Christchurch earthquake? Would it take them five days to agree to comment on it?