Pity Labour’s male MPs and candidates

Both Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe have pledged that ’s post 2014 caucus under their leadership will be 50% women. Technically this is a decision for the Party organisation, but what they are effectively saying is that as Leader they will encourage the party to use whatever mechanisms they have to achieve this. This means that the may be back, as they have both said they won’t stop the party adopting it.

But regardless of whether the man ban returns, the pledge for 50% women in their caucus is very bad news for their rival Shane Jones, and also for former Party President Andrew Little. You see in 2011 a 50/50 quota would have seen both Andrew Little and Shane Jones not make it into Parliament.

In this blog post in July, I looked at what a 50/50 quota would have meant for Labour under every MMP election. It would have been the equivalent of a suicide note. They would have lost Michael Cullen in 1999 and 2002 for example as they would not have got any male List MPs at all. So it doesn’t matter how they ranked their Male candidates – none would have got in on the list under the quota favoured by Robertson and Cunliffe.

Now it is almost inevitable that one of them will become Leader, unless Jones can pull off an upset, which means that Labour will have this quota for 2014. So who are the losers?

First are the current male List MPs. Basically they’re outski. Little, Jones and maybe even Cosgrove are gone. If O’Connor doesn’t hold his seat he could be gone also.

The other losers are new male candidates. The message is that there is no chance of a winnable list spot if they are male.

Labour holds 22 electorate seats. If a male replaces Dalziel, then 15 electorate MPs are male and seven are female. That means the top eight places on the list must be reserved for women.

This will make it harder for male candidates not just to get into Parliament but also to win electorate seats, as to win a seat off the other party often needs a two or three term strategy where you come in as a List MP, and then use that to build up profile so you can win the seat itself the next election.

This makes it very interesting for Andrew Little. If either Robertson or Cunliffe win, he may end up being out of Parliament under their quota policies. So who will he support? Could Jones pick up vote in caucus by pointing out to the male List MPs that many of them are goners if the other two win?

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