Don’t give me this ‘merit’ bullsh*t. You can start by putting to one side the idea that MPs are chosen purely on merit as it is – this is politics we’re talking about.
The fact is unless you believe there aren’t 60 women in the entire country who could be good MPs then you have to accept the problem isn’t women being crap, it’s structural.
Labour could sit around waiting for society to eliminate all structural barriers and usher in full gender equality, but frankly I’d rather they did something about it now.
That’s why it’s so deeply ironic to see the all this squealing from National – a party of the elite that’s dominated by privileged white males and whose policies reflect its narrow social base.
Labour represents a wider constituency, which is why one of the first things you notice when you go to a Labour Party conference is how much it looks like New Zealand. Labour’s caucus should too, yet at the moment only 14 of Labour’s 34 MPs are women and the proportion hasn’t increased in nearly twenty years.
The proposals being debated at the moment aren’t without controversy (this is the Labour Party after all) and some of them won’t make it through. One of the proposals – to have women-only selections if the local electorate wants it and the NZ Council agrees* – has got a fair bit of attention today, but it’s just one of many ideas that will be debated, discussed and voted on by members. That’s democracy – it’s messy, but it’s how it should be.
So, well done to Labour for having this difficult but important debate.
What I’d like to know now is what National’s doing to address its lack of women MPs. Any ideas?
* Ironically, this proposal mirrors one introduced recently by the austerity-loving, welfare-bashing UK Conservative Party. So much for ‘PC Gone Mad’.