## Labour’s gender quotas

November 6th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Two activists have blogged at Public Address in defence of Labour’s new . The assumptions they use can’t really pass without challenge. First a minor quibble:

Under MMP, Labour has been “stuck” at between 30 and 40 per cent female MPs.  Considering the skills and capabilities of our New Zealand women, this just isn’t good enough.

Actually Labour are already over 40%.

All the International evidence shows that such inequality is a result of structural discrimination.  It’s why we need Maori seats to address structural discrimination for Maori.

Actually Maori are over-represented in Parliament, not under-represented.

Now, to the maths.  The spreadsheet below is fairly self-explanatory.  Assumptions made are:

1. Labour receives 40% of the 2014 Party Vote.
2. Labour receives 42% of the 2017 Party Vote (this is an increase in PV of 5.01%, the same increase that Labour received between the 1999 and 2002 Elections).

Using the modelling below, you will see that in 2014, with a Party Vote of 40%, Labour will have a total of 48 MPs.  With at least 45% of those MPs being female, there will be 22 women and 26 men.  This is an increase of 6 men on current numbers.

Let me repeat that for you.  An increase of 6 men on current numbers.

With respect to Rachel, this is no rebuttal at all of what Gower has said. Sure if Labour gains a massive 12% vote from 2011, then no men have to get chopped. But what if they don’t gain 12%? What if they get 30% or 28% again? What if they get 26% and you lose David Parker? Are you going to make Lesley Soper your Finance Spokesperson as she took Parker’s place in Parliament?

Quotas are great if your vote increases massively. They don”t work so well in the tough years.

Considering not a single poll has shown Labour at 40%, using an assumption of 40% to prove a point is not credible.

The problems for Labour with gender quotas won’t come in opposition. It will come when they are in Government and they are looking to lose seats at an upcoming election. Then a quota becomes a straitjacket which may see senior male Ministers get unwinnable list spots to protect lower ranked female MPs.

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### 33 Responses to “Labour’s gender quotas”

1. Graeme Edgeler (3,261 comments) says:

Considering not a single poll has shown Labour at 40%, using an assumption of 40% to prove a point is not credible.

I note in the comments that 40% for Labour would be the biggest increase in Labour support at any election ever (excluding the ∞% increase at their first election )

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It’s a sad indictment on Labour that they are effectively saying that they only way to get greater representation of women within their movement is to do so artificially through a quota; that women are unable to gain selection within their party solely on their own merit.

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God help NZ if the Labour imbeciles win the 2014 election. It is that serious.

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I have friends who have actually quit their Labour Party membership over this nonsense. This kind of radical liberalism will not be helping Labour get any closer to 40%. Then there’s the issue of the slippery slope. If women have quotas now, who’s next? Labour is setting a dangerous precedent for their party.

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Or @bhudson that their recruitment and development strategies have proven that poor that talent cannot be the skill required.
It’s inane stupidity that gets at the underlying issue with labour, rather than fix an issue by investigating its causes and developing strategies to change something, go for a short term rule/law fix that leaves the underlying issues poorly if at all understood/resolved.

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6. Ed Snack (1,723 comments) says:

“International studies….”, this is the sort of bullshit groupthink that the left are so good at. I can probably find better researched and sourced studies showing that the Illuminati control the world.

It’s not actually about the outcome or anything like that, it’s about showing that you seem to care !

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It is refocusing their attentions away from what actually matters to New Zealanders

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8. Nigel Kearney (840 comments) says:

I’m intrigued by this notion that “inequality is a result of structural discrimination”. How does this explain men consistently beating women at chess? Maybe there would be a whole flood of new female grandmasters if we just replaced the knights with lesbians carrying welding torches, but I doubt it. And then there is the web: Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Morgan etc. None of the people using their web sites knew or cared about the sex of the creator.

So there are massive differences that can’t be explained by ‘structural discrimination’. If I was a feminist I would be very happy for people to accept the explanation that these are the result of women making different choices than men, because the alternative is that women are actually biologically less capable of thinking and problem solving.

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A lot of what is euphemistically described as ‘merit’ in parliamentary parties is predicated on the members ability to regurgitate sound bites that do not conflict with party policy and their competence in Machiavellian self promotion. Ensuring women are given an edge within such a system is hardly going to dent Labour’s ability to serve the interests of big business while paying lip service to the aspirations of their voting base.

If Labour were serious about being a truly representative party that aspired to adopt a more socialist agenda they would be advocating a more democratic form of governance. The success of their championing of women’s rights and place in society should be measured on the ability of their political model to lift the poorest women out of the hand-to-mouth existence to which the modern economy has condemned them; not some arbitrarily imposed quota plastering over the savage reality of corporate rule.

I would have thought that the National party spin doctors are considering bringing such a quota system into their party on the quiet to steal a march on Labour, as the parliamentary system has become so farcical they could also pretend they were attending to the aspirations of women while serving the whims of power and concentrations of wealth.

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Actually Maori are over-represented in Parliament, not under-represented.

Take away the 7 Maori seats and what happens to those figures?

[DPF: Still over-represented. After Chch East there will be 24/121 Maori MPs. Take away Maori seats and that is 17/121 or 14.0%.

As of June 2012 there are 408,340 Maori aged 18 or older from pop of 3,361,248. That is 12.1%.

Hence Maori would continue to be over-represented or at least approx proportionally represented without the Maori seats.]

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It wouldn’t surprise me to find the National Party is engaging in something similar, although perhaps from the safety of smoke filled rooms rather than the transparency of a publicly espoused policy. The party apparatchiks know they have a problem with female representation in caucus, and that they need to do something about it. Otherwise, it will become an electoral vulnerability.

Oh, and I’m always amused when people complain that representation shouldn’t be on the basis of anatomy. How do you think we wound up with male dominated politics, if not on the basis of anatomy? The alternative explanation – that women are somehow less capable than men – doesn’t bear a moment’s serious scrutiny.

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@vibenna: or that the political system is structured in a way that makes participation in it quite unattractive to most NZers. Of those who are interested in standing for parliament, and dealing with the lying, backstabbing, constant time away from their family and ongoing public attention, perhaps a disproportionate number are men. In other words, of the 1% of people who actually want to be politicians, it’s quite plausible that more than half them are men.

Now, if we want to talk about how to make our political system not like this, we’d need to start looking at each of us. Given that we all vote, and we all tend to vote for candidates who work well in this system, and not to vote for candidates who operate in a different way. In short, the same as it’s silly to complain about the products you can buy in your local supermarket when those products are a direct reflection of what people are buying, it’s silly to complain about the people we end up with as our elected representatives when those people are a direct reflection of what we collectively vote for.

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Considering the skills and capabilities of our New Zealand women,

I see Labour assume certain things about a person based on gender.

I do too. That is why I think the experiment of giving women the vote has failed.

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The party apparatchiks know they have a problem with female representation in caucus, and that they need to do something about it.

Exactly, vibenna. Watch how many of the replacements for Hutchison/Tremain/Calder/Auchinvole just happen to be women whom “merit” dictated ought to be chosen. But if you just do it quietly and hope no-one notices what you are up to (whilst making sure female candidates appear in lots and lots of your campaign materials), it’s OK.

[DPF: One can be supportive of having more women in Parliament yet think quotas are dumb and inflexible]

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How do you think we wound up with male dominated politics, if not on the basis of anatomy?

I think more men than women applied for the position.

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16. Ed Snack (1,723 comments) says:

Yoza, “The success of their championing of women’s rights and place in society should be measured on the ability of their political model to lift the poorest women out of the hand-to-mouth existence to which the modern economy has condemned them; not some arbitrarily imposed quota plastering over the savage reality of corporate rule.” WTF. Like the non-modern economy where women get to lie around a lot and pull “benefits”, my god but you’re clueless.

In NZ the very poorest have many opportunities to lift themselves out of that position; but there’s one unfortunate pre-requirement: they have to *want* to get out of that position. Deprivation is largely cultural, wallow in a culture that emphasizes sloth, entitlement, and resentment, and who should be surprised if such people stay at the bottom of the heap. And that is doubled down by those predatory politicians and political parties who support that that culture by assuring them that it is not their fault but some faceless “corporate culture”, or “tory bully boys” (if you’re somehow fixated on English class warfare labels), or the very NZ “rich pricks” who exploit them and theirs. Vote for us they say, and we’ll get yours from these other people, the classic “look how generous I am, giving you someone else’s money”.

I tend to (sometimes) have the view that fewer women are in parliament because, all politicians are swine, and as a general rule, more men are swine than women (though when it comes to individual cases I’m not sure this is an easily sustained argument !).

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hudson

It is actually an interesting reflection of the way they respond when confronted with what they perceive to be a real world problem. Regulate/legislate. Cunners waffles on about women representing 50% of the global talent but it doesn’t occur to him to ask why, that being the case, they aren’t already represented to the extent of 50% in his caucus. Regulation for 50% woman will produce that outcome, but it doesn’t follow that (ignoring the temptation to comment on liebore’s female “talent” pool) his 50% female caucus will reflect the best talent that might have been available were it not for the impediments that remain unaddressed.

There is of course now a new barrier to attracting 50% of their best women; the prospect of having Cunners in charge.

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The fact this would even be considered, as a serious topic, shows how far we have decayed as a society.

The funny thing is that kiwi women are a miserable sullen & angry bunch and the more of this sort of crap we impose the worse it gets. Most women want to be accepted as women, not as some gender neutral blob. We should celebrate our gender differences, not feel guilty about them.

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kea says

“kiwi women are a miserable sullen & angry bunch”

Speak for yourself ,troll.

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The Labour MPs I feel sorry for are the gay ones. They are way WAY over represented in the Labour caucus when compared to the population of NZ. There is going to have to be a blood bath to deselect most of them before 2014 to ensure proportionality. Some good MPs are going to be (essentially) sacked because they are gay, and that just isn’t right. I call on Cunliffe and Labour to reconsider this policy and not discriminate on the basis of sexuality.

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Ok, “kiwi women are a miserable sullen & angry bunch” except for kowtow

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Ed Snack (1,168) Says: at 4:33 pm

In NZ the very poorest have many opportunities to lift themselves out of that position; but there’s one unfortunate pre-requirement: they have to *want* to get out of that position. Deprivation is largely cultural, wallow in a culture that emphasizes sloth, entitlement, and resentment, and who should be surprised if such people stay at the bottom of the heap. And that is doubled down by those predatory politicians and political parties who support that that culture by assuring them that it is not their fault but some faceless “corporate culture”, or “tory bully boys” (if you’re somehow fixated on English class warfare labels), or the very NZ “rich pricks” who exploit them and theirs.

Utter nonsense. If this fantasy you are propagating – where everyone had the opportunity to extricate themselves out from under the corporate jackboot – threatened to come into being, it would be violently suppressed. The whole point of socially ‘democratic’ capitalism is to ensure that those at the top have access to a cheap acquiescent labour force while promoting the illusion to which you allude.

People who pontificate on the inherent sloth of the poor from positions of privilege appear to be reinforcing their own personal prejudices and insecurities rather than offering anything resembling a valid commentary on the real causes of the massive and growing inequalities inherent in the contemporary plutocratic paradigm.

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These Labour activists sound like a couple of apparatchiks. Such steaming piles of horse manure is how they impress the higher-ups.

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“Take away the 7 Maori seats and what happens to those figures?”

When are they taking away the maori seats? Not any time soon.

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In Labours world, the most important thing seems to be what is between your legs. Merit doesnt seem high on their list of priorities.

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[DPF: Still over-represented. After Chch East there will be 24/121 Maori MPs. Take away Maori seats and that is 17/121 or 14.0%.

Pretty sure Poto Williams is Cook Island Maori, which ain't the same as "Maori". Unless you mean Matthew Doocey is tangata whenua, and is going to win (which he isn't)? So it'll be 23 of 121 (or 16 of 121 with no Maori seats) - or 19% (or 13.2%) of Parliament.

As of June 2012 there are 408,340 Maori aged 18 or older from pop of 3,361,248. That is 12.1%.

Remind me again how representation is apportioned in New Zealand? Is it on a "share of the 18 years or older" basis, or on a total population basis? It's the latter, right? And as of the end of 2012, Statistics NZ had the Maori population of NZ at 682,100, out of a total population of 4.44 million. Which is 15.4% of the population.

Hence Maori would continue to be over-represented or at least approx proportionally represented without the Maori seats.]

Or not.

[DPF: I stand corrected on Poto Williams. I believe the correct comparison is to the adult population as they are who get to vote, and we are talking about if Maori can get representation in line with their voting strength. But regardless even if you take total population, Maori MPs would be very close to the population share without Maori seats. You simply can’t argue they are necessary for Maori representation (there are other arguments for them). Also I have no doubt that if they went, we would have more Maori List MPs in Labour, so Maori would continue to be over-represented (which is not a bad thing).

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@AG: if you took away the Maori seats, the people on the Maori roll would start voting in normal electorates. Presumably if they cared that their representatives be Maori, they would vote for Maori candidates. It’s stretching credibility to say that all those people go back into the standard electorates and it doesn’t change the voting patterns. Unless you’re claiming that actually those people don’t care whether their representatives share skin colour with them, in which case what exactly is this whole discussion about?

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28. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (760 comments) says:

Our internal polling shows, Labour is poised to get between 46% and 48% in 2014 election….

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A selection of the internal poles Sir Cullen and his sidekicks used to get up to 48% satisfaction!

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@PaulL,

Sure. It may be that without the Maori seats, more Maori would be elected through other ways (party lists/unified electorates) to at least partially replace the lost Maori MPs. Or, alternatively, parties may be risk averse and continue to choose “safer” candidates that look like the sorts of people the electorate has chosen in the past (which disproportionately tend to be white males). I don’t know what the future holds.

My point simply was to press DPF’s implied claim (later made explicit) that even without the Maori seats there still would be representation of Maori in today’s Parliament equal to (or greater than) the Maori share of the overall population. I think it is wrong.

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AG (1,654) Says: at 3:43 pm

Actually Maori are over-represented in Parliament, not under-represented.
Take away the 7 Maori seats and what happens to those figures?

[DPF: Still over-represented. After Chch East there will be 24/121 Maori MPs. Take away Maori seats and that is 17/121 or 14.0%.
As of June 2012 there are 408,340 Maori aged 18 or older from pop of 3,361,248. That is 12.1%.
Hence Maori would continue to be over-represented or at least approx proportionally represented without the Maori seats.]

The Encyclopaedia Farrar gives us the fact that Maori are represented in Parliament at a level of 20% [ 24 seats of 124 ] for a population at 12%
Or to put it another way Maori are grossly politically privileged to the detriment of the rest of us.

Now the Asian population extrapolated from 2006 figures is about 450,000. I counted 4 Asian MP’s.
Melissa Lee, Jian Yang, Raymond Huo, and Rajan Prasad.
Asian population is 14% of population [ more than Maori ] and represented by four seats that is 3% [ 4 seats of 124 ]

Or to put it another way Maori is represented at 7 times that of Asian.

Quota that

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The Encyclopaedia Farrar gives us the fact that Maori are represented in Parliament at a level of 20% [ 24 seats of 124 ] for a population at 12%
Or to put it another way Maori are grossly politically privileged to the detriment of the rest of us.

Yes, he does. But his figures are wrong, as explained above.

Shorter version – don’t believe everything you read on the internet, even when DPF says it.

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@DPF,

I believe the correct comparison is to the adult population as they are who get to vote, and we are talking about if Maori can get representation in line with their voting strength.

Despite the fact that electorates are determined on a total population basis? The number of Maori seats (and general seats, of course) isn’t determined by the share of the population over 18, so it seems odd to change the metric of representation when looking to see if Maori are over/under represented.

But regardless even if you take total population, Maori MPs would be very close to the population share without Maori seats.

Sure – “close”, as in only 2.2% underrepresented. But that’s not the same as “overrepresented”, which is what I was questioning at the outset.

You simply can’t argue they are necessary for Maori representation (there are other arguments for them).

Well, you can argue this. But I agree, it isn’t a very strong argument, so I’d actually join you in querying the original claim.

Also I have no doubt that if they went, we would have more Maori List MPs in Labour, so Maori would continue to be over-represented (which is not a bad thing).

But not in National – have you guys got your full quota of Maori MPs already? (;->)

Seriously, but, you may well be right about this – as I said to PaulL, it may be that without the Maori seats, more Maori would be elected through other ways (party lists/unified electorates) to at least partially replace the lost Maori MPs. Or, alternatively, parties may be risk averse and continue to choose “safer” candidates that look like the sorts of people the electorate has chosen in the past (which disproportionately tend to be white males). I don’t know what the future holds.

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