Monday, 18 August 2008

national's women candidates

i've had a look over the national party list, with a view to looking at how their women candidates are faring. i guess it's an update on an earlier post detailing the portfolio responsibilities of their women MPs.

in the top 10, they've lost katherine rich but have gained judith collins and anne tolley. these two are likely to take over the social development and education portfolios respectively. ms tolley can particularly thank her rise to ms rich's retirement, and the failure of mr peachey to be an effective education spokesperson. certainly, had ms rich not withdrawn, i don't think ms tolley would have been in the top thirty. as it is, she is the person with the highest rise on the list, moving up 33 places.

the next ten has georgina te heu heu has moving up two places to 17. interesting move, and given that tau henare has only moved to 26, it looks like they may finally be recognising her talents. on the other hand, it may be a move designed to counter some successful treaty negotiations and settlements by the government over the last year. as i've said previously, i have a lot of time for ms te heu heu, and find it sad that her party has not used her full potential.

another surprise here is pansy wong. she hasn't moved at all from her place at 20, which seems to show a real lack of faith in her abilities. ms wong is a senior MP and one would think that she could have progressed a lot further than she has over her 9 year career. seeing ms tolley, a first-term MP, jump ahead of her to the top 10 must be difficult.

the next 10 has sandra goudie down 1 at 27, and kate wilkinson up 8 at 30. ms wilkinson has obviously been forgiven for her little gaffe earlier in the year. i can't recall any significant achievements by ms goudie that would justify her position at 27, when others like paula bennett and jackie blue much further down.

for each of the batches of 10, you'll see a little pattern emerge. the women are at place 7 and place 10. 6 women in the top 30 is quite disappointing, and that they appear towards the bottom of each lot of 10 is also not great. that they haven't done better implies one of two things. either these women don't have the ability to succeed and move to the top; or their party is not able to recognise their talents.

things start getting better after 30, with 4 women between 31 & 40 (all in the bottom half), and another 4 between 41 and 50. however, some of these women have had significant demotions, with jo goodhew and jackie blue both down 4, and nicky wagner down 15 places.

so, a total of 16 female candidates in the top 60 on the list. but it's not only their placings that are of importance. the question that i'd like to ask is how likely these women are to advocate on issues of importance to women. they have been very visible on the herceptin debate, but where do they stand on extending paid parental leave to casual workers? or making significant changes to sexual violence legislation? will they support breaks for breast-feeding mothers?

they haven't been particularly sympathetic to solo-parents on the DPB, and i haven't seen any social or industrial relations policies that will benefit the many women struggling with low-paid jobs while trying to raise a family. across-the-board tax cuts will not help those women.

unfortunately, i don't think the mainstream media is going to be asking these questions. but they do need to be asked, and answered.

12 comments:

Idiot/Savant said...

Anne Tolley is a second-term MP; she was in Parliament between 1999 and 2002.

And before Brash came along Georgina te Heuheu was consistently ranked in position 7 or 6 on National's list - initially because they wanted to bring in some new talent on the list while signalling that they took Maori seriously, and then in recognition of her abilities and mana. Brash demoted her in retaliation for being "uppity" (not taking shit from him. Who does she think she is? A DWM?), and Key has sadly continued that.

The Bewildering Case of Ms Enid Tak-Entity said...

Anjum, did you notice... Melissa Lee??

stargazer said...

sure, she's one of the four between 31 and 40, sitting at 37. she's one of a group of 4 ethnic candidates pushed up to show national apparently now promotes ethnic diversity. didn't see her as worth a special mention, since i didn't name any of the other new candidates. i was more interested in who will have power and influence in the caucus, particularly in terms of women's issues. newcomers spend a lot of the initial period finding their way, by which time the agenda and tone has been set.

Anna McM said...

It's certainly interesting to look at the Nat's decisions re placement of women candidates, but I can't say the injustice of it fills me with much outrage. Their lack of interest in their female candidates simply reflects their lack of concern for social justice issues more generally. I don't feel too sorry for anyone who gets shafted in the pursuit of an inequitable political programme, regardless of how talented they are.

Hugh said...

Anna, I agree - I find it hard to work up outrage on behalf of people like Te Heuheu or Pansy Wong because, although they may be women and minorities, if they were given higher rankings they've shown every sign they would support the same bad policies as their white male colleagues.

ACT is a good example of a party that does give good list positions to female and minority MPs, and yet their policy positions are even more objectionable than the Tories.

Ben R said...

"Brash demoted her in retaliation for being "uppity" (not taking shit from him. Who does she think she is? A DWM?), and Key has sadly continued that."

My understanding is she didn't agree with the treaty policy so couldn't really continue being spokesperson for that portfolio. If an evil white male had said they couldn't advocate the policy then they also would have been demoted.

I'm not sure about her place on the list previously, but she is at least spokesperson for Maori Affairs again.

Hugh,

"Anna, I agree - I find it hard to work up outrage on behalf of people like Te Heuheu or Pansy Wong because, although they may be women and minorities, if they were given higher rankings they've shown every sign they would support the same bad policies as their white male colleagues."

So having more women represented in Parliament isn't necessarily a good thing if they don't support your policies?

Anna McM said...

Tricky one Ben - some feminists would argue that more women = better governance, but I think most feminists (including me) would say that the calibre of the candidates, including their attitudes to women and feminism) is more important! There are pragmatic reasons to include women, though. Under-represented groups benefit from seeing their own in leadership positions.

Hugh said...

Ben, I think the general operating principle of parliamentary democracy is that voters want people in parliament who support the same policies as us. Parliament is first and foremost a body for getting policies implemented.

Ben R said...

"Tricky one Ben - some feminists would argue that more women = better governance, but I think most feminists (including me) would say that the calibre of the candidates, including their attitudes to women and feminism) is more important!"

Well, that's pretty much my view. We should look at candidates as individuals and what there beliefs are, not their skin colour or gender.

Although human nature being what it is, people tend to identify with people they see as similar to themselves (in group vs outgroup bias). And often those similarities are assumed on the basis of race or gender.

stargazer said...

but there are certain experiences, which are not shared, that can affect a person's ability to advocate for issues. therefore it is much more likely that effective women MPs in positions of power within the caucus will be better able to advocate for issues of importance to women. that is not to say that all powerful women will do so, but when looking at the gender balance or ethnic balance, what you're looking for is whether or not there will be someone who can put forward a different perspective; who can raise awareness of issues that would otherwise be ignored. of course they work on policies that affect the whole population as well.

Ben R said...

"but there are certain experiences, which are not shared, that can affect a person's ability to advocate for issues."

Well, lawyers advocate issues all the time even though they may have no personal experience of the matter, or even disagree with the position (incidentally, lawyers generally seem overrepresented in govt).

I think it depends on who the person sees as their constituency. For instance Winston Peters has been very effective & very popular with older pakeha voters.

On the other hand Ruth Richardson & Jenny Shipley might not be seen as being particularly great advocates for women's issues.

Of course in terms of perception with the public people may feel better represented if they see a woman in charge of a certain portfolio that relates to women's issues.

Hugh said...

but there are certain experiences, which are not shared, that can affect a person's ability to advocate for issues.

I'm not comfortable with that line of thinking, to be honest. If we say that female MPs need to be present to make policy that effects women, one doesn't have to follow that train of thought too far before arriving at the conclusion that we need MPs who are lawyers to discuss legal policy, MPs who are accountants to discuss economic policy, MPs who are soldiers to discuss defense policy...