Hide on Labour’s gender quota

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The party’s drive to get a precise balance of female and male MPs reinforces the view that Labour is more concerned with itself than with voters. That’s the last thing Cunliffe needs. He needs the party trumpeting what he’s doing for working people, not what the party is doing to itself. …

Labour’s gender balance rule is correctly seen as extreme tokenism.

Hide points out what the quota will mean:

 In 1999, Labour had 37 MPs. In 2002 it had 52. The number of MPs goes up and it goes down. The balance of list to electorate MPs swings even more wildly. In 2002, 45 MPs were electorate and only seven were list. Two elections later, Labour had only 21 electorate MPs but 22 list. More than half of its electorate seats had been lost and its number of list MPs had more than tripled. The party must now factor in every possible combination of outcome and then some to ensure every electoral contingency delivers first a 45/55 female/male split and then ever-after a 50/50 split. That’s not going to be easy. The headache is made all the bigger by 14 of Labour’s 22 electorate seats being held by men.

Achieving the correct male-female balance across all conceivable electoral outcomes means an effective man-ban in all new electorate selections.

If male candidates for Labour win seats, then it means male candidates must be dropped from the list effectively. The only way to stop that will be to stop selecting male candidates for winnable seats until 50% of electorates are male also.

Labour’s future is also for a less talented caucus. That’s because the gender balance rule constrains selection choices. Heck, in 1999, the rule would have cost David Cunliffe his selection.

The real pain may not occur in 2014 or even 2017. It will be when they are in Government and they have to tell male Cabinet Ministers they are being ranked behind some brand new female candidate in order to have perfect gender equality.

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