Sunday, 31 August 2008

A Woman's Place: The Labour Party List

Labour's list came out publicly today, and you can view it on Scoop with Labour's media release, or in pdf form at The Standard.

Historical representation of women:
As for National, Wikipedia does not have a full list of Labour MPs. And, as for National, I can work out reasonably easily that they have had 44 female MPs in their history to date, based on counting from this list and adding Louisa Wall (who has entered Parliament since the last General Election as a result of retirements) .

According to the Elections website their first female MP (and NZ's first female MP full stop) was Elizabeth McCombs, who was elected in 1933. Labour's, and New Zealand's, first woman in Cabinet was Mabel Howard, who was first elected to the House in 1943 and served as a Minister in the late 1940s and again in the late 1950s. Labour was also the first major political party in NZ to have a female leader; Helen Clark, who ascended to the leadership in 1993, and has to date been the longest serving leader of the party.

Other notable female MPs from Labour have included NZ's first Maori women MP, Iriaka Ratana (Western Maori, 1949-1969) legendary feminist and unionist Sonja Davies and the world's first transexual MP, Georgina Beyer.

Current representation of women:
Labour currently have 18 female MPs in their caucus of 49*, making 37%. They have 7 women in their Cabinet of 20 (35%)**, including of course a female leader (and thus Prime Minister) in Clark, and amongst Ministers outside of cabinet 2 out of 8*** (25%) are women.

2008 Labour Party List:
Women represented across the whole list: 32 out of 77 (42%)

Top 5 - Two (Helen Clark at 1, Annette King at 4) 2/5 = 40%
Top 10 - Four (plus Nanaia Mahuta at 9, Maryan Street at 10) 4/10 = 40%
Top 20 - Eight (plus Winnie Laban at 11, Ruth Dyson at 13, Lianne Dalziel at 15, Jacinda Ardern at 20) 8/20 = 40%
Top 30 - Twelve (plus Sue Moroney at 22, Moana Mackey at 25, Carol Beaumont at 28, Steve Chadwick at 30) 12/30 = 40%
Top 40 - Sixteen (plus Lynne Pillay at 32, Darien Fenton at 33, Carmel Sepuloni at 35, Judith Tizard at 38) 16/40 = 40%
Top 50 - 19 (plus Louisa Wall at 43, Lesley Soper at 44, Clare Curran at 45) 19/50 = 38%
Top 60 - 23 (plus Erin Ebborn-Gillespie at 51, Josephine Bartley at 54, Farida Sultana at 57, Denise McKensie at 58) 23/60 = 38%

Our own Anjum is ranked at 61 (yay Anjum!).**** I'll add in links to profiles of the above soon (MP profile links added 8th Sept), and also to other analysis of the list as other bloggers start to cover it. Update: Idiot/Savant's analysis is here and concludes that the Labour list "looks like New Zealand." The Standard's thread on the matter can be found here. Homepaddock adds her thoughts too.[update ends]

When I looked at the National party list I stated "that while National has tried hard to look less like a bunch of older, white men in suits, there is actually a dirth of diversity on their list." The National list has 18 women on it, with the lowest ranked at 71. Labour's 18th woman is ranked at 44 (Lesley Soper, who would be on the cusp of getting in imho), and after her there are another fourteen women (albeit on a slightly longer list than National's). While Labour's falls short of the gender-balance heights the Greens have achieved, it is still a significant effort.

I imagine that a picture of all these candidates together in a crowd, put alongside one of National, would show a more diverse picture - a wider range of ages and ethnicities, as well as more women. There is some distance still to go, and I'd hope that the Labour list in 2011 was even more reflective of our society.

Likely future representation of women:
Labour currently has 49 MPs, and it seems unlikely they'll have this many come the end of November this year. So taking a wild stab at a result, say they get 45 MPs in total, and win a number of electorates for those ranked below the safe level on the list (eg Judith Tizard in Auckland Central and Clare Curran in Dunedin South), Labour would have 16 women in a caucus of 45 (38%), which is a slight percentage increase from their current level of 37%.

However two women who have been MPs in the current Parliament would be out; Lesley Soper (who was also ranked too lowly to return after the last election, and if she comes in during the term due to retirements will have suffered that fate three times), and Louisa Wall (who again might come in with retirements). As Soper is known to be pro-life I suspect there won't be many feminists here weeping into their coffees about that, particularly as this Parliament may see some legislative reform in this area and every vote will count.

Jacinda Ardern must be the stand-out new female candidate for Labour; with a ranking of 20 she is clearly seen as a possibility for Cabinet in the short-term. And Judith Tizard's extreme demotion, to a point where she has to retain Auckland Central to be returned, is quite the slap in the face. It will be interesting to see how many retirements occur this term, although of course if Tizard were to go she'd trigger a by-election in the seat.

Other posts in this series to date:
- Act's Party List
- Green's Party List
- National's Party List
- The Maori Party's candidates (list and electorate)

* Wikipedia says they have 50 MPs, but I think this may be a miscount as a result of a certain Taito Philip Field, as the Labour website clearly shows 49 MPs.
** This 20 includes one non-Labour MP, Jim Anderton of the Progressives.
*** This 8 includes two non-Labour MPs, Winston "currently on gardening leave" Peters and Peter Dunne.
**** I should also state, in the interests of disclosure, that I have a number of friends on the Labour list, including my partner, although I hope that that hasn't coloured my analysis.


Idiot/Savant said...

There is some distance still to go, and I'd hope that the Labour list in 2011 was even more reflective of our society.

I hope so too - but its certainly the trend. Labour's 2008 list has more women and better overall diversity than its 2005 list, so they're certainly moving in the right direction.

Mkura said...

Anjum... why?

This is the same Labour party that committed a huge modern day raupatu via the Foreshore and Seabed Act, oversaw the Oct 15 'Anti-Terror' raids, sent SAS troops to war against Afghanistan, allowed Ahmed Zaoui to be held in solitary for ... way too long and have written all kinds of clauses into immigration law discriminating against, well, anyone who isnt a WASP and the list goes on...

Why o why would you lend them a veneer of happy rainbow nation legitimacy with your good name?

The colonial parliament isnt even a legal entity FFS, its an instrument of the illegal foreign occupation of these islands!


stargazer said...

mkura, i've been thinking about how to respond to you, because i can understand how you feel. i don't think any answer i can give will satisfy you, but i can just put my reasons out there and leave you to judge them as you will.

the reason i stand for and with labour is that i'd much rather see a centre left government ruling this country than a centre-right one. under a centre-right government you would never have seen the primary health care strategy, for example, which is sheer brilliance though never recognised as such. you would never have seen working for families which targets poorer households; rather you would have had across-the-board tax cuts that benefitted the rich. you would not have had the low level of employment, the investment in skills based training, the raising of the minimum wage each year, the reduction in public debt, the investment and encouragement towards savings rather than consumption and so much more.

of course the centre-left is not perfect and has many shortcomings. it would be nice if we could move much further and faster on getting increased protections for workers, particularly low-paid workers; if we could get more money to those right at the bottom of the heap; if we could have a better solution to the foreshore and seabed; if we could have immigration law that had more compassion.

with a lot of these issues, the problem is about getting numbers on the day, and about trying to fight a media-driven hysteria to come up with the best answer that you can under the circumstances. it's about being able to persuade people with the arguments, and when that argument just doesn't get through because media won't report your side impartially (eg the herald and the EFA as the most blatant example), then you do the best you can and hope to live to fight another day to achieve a better outcome.

why? mkura, because i think it's better to get involved inside the system and try to improve it, rather than to stay outside and try to change through other forms of political activism. i think both ways of working are valid, but i've chosen to do the former. i don't know how successful i am in terms of changing things for the better, but i really do try.

that's why.

Anonymous said...

And Jenny Shipley of the National Party was NZ's first Female Prime Minister.