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Nat: our ‘diversity’ is just a gimmick

Written By: - Date published: 11:39 am, August 25th, 2008 - 35 comments
Categories: racism, same old national - Tags:

Unless a party has a systematic bias towards one sector of the population, it would be normal to expect that their candidates would represent a cross-section of the community – after all, talented, qualified people can be found in all groups; political aptitude is not just a Pakeha male trait.

So, it was kind of pathetic to see National trumpet it’s ‘diversity’ when it announced its list, given that the top 25 (ie likely Ministers in a National government) includes 21 Pakeha males. It’s not until the mid-30s that National’s list begins to look anything like New Zealand post-1950. But National MPs regard even having four women in the top 25 as tokenism and expect they would not get Cabinet posts. Here’s Chester Burrows (rank 32) in the Wanganui Chronicle:

Sorry, Pansy and Georgina, but the boys expect their places at the Cabinet table, and that doesn’t leave room for you. You’re just there to bring a midocum diversity anyway. Run along now girls, the boys have work to do.

35 comments on “Nat: our ‘diversity’ is just a gimmick ”

  1. Savage 1

    This brings up an interesting debate on diversity in representation and getting the best person for the job.

    National voters are probably over-represented in the white male category. This is reflected in their choice of list MPs.

  2. Well spotted! This underlines the point that some of us have made about the Nats’ woman problem. The funny thing is, there are pitifully few of them for Burrows to leapfrog.

    My most apt captcha yet: joyful con Sums up the Nats’ approach beautifully.

  3. God these guys are so laughable. No sooner do they try to pull the wool over our eyes with yet another slick PR trick or their true nature of angry middle aged white guy shines through. Except of course John Key, he’s a slick rich prick. LOL.

    Awesome captcha, Jafapete.

  4. Stephen 4

    A little disturbing.

    “talented, qualified people can be found in all groups; political aptitude is not just a Pakeha male trait.”

    Yes, but for a variety of reasons not all identifiable groups produce as much ‘cabinet level’ material as the historically well-to-do ‘NZ European’ group.

  5. other parties don’t seem to have any trouble, stephen

    and, its not like national is setting a high bar – i mean, Nathan Gy, Lindsay Tisch, David Carter, Stephen Joyce…

  6. Stephen 6

    I would say other parties are keen to play identity politics, and apply that ethic to their candidate selection. Not that National doesn’t do this…

  7. cha 7

    A mate of mine graduated from the police college in the same wing as Chester and in his opinion the man is a really nice fellow but he’s awfully dim, well suited to his former role as a sole charge plod but if it aint in the book he has no idea.
    He only won Whanganui because Pettis made a dogs breakfast of the last campaign but at 32 on the list, and with Labour standing Hamish McDouall, Chester could well be a one term wonder.

    captcha: stirring stuffy, Chester to a t.

  8. Daveski 8

    OK so you have one candidate saying something which you extrapolate out to be a National policy rather than an indictment of one idiot (we all know there’s plenty of those in politics).

    Again, SP, you’ve been in rebuttal mode for some time which is easy but that’s the role of the opposition.

    The Nats don’t have enough diversity – Kapow!! OR
    The Nats diversity is manfactured – Kapow!!

    Taking your logic to its maximum extremity, surely Labour is OVER represented with Gays in particular and other interest groups seeing the imperative to be truly representative.

    The real issue should be the calibre of the candidates and on the basis of your comments about Nathan Guy in particular you paint yourself as someone out of touch with the real world and in tune only with a small politically aware elite … who are also over represented on the left!

  9. Stephen 9

    How could we know if anyone is overrepresented in the ‘gay’ department when there is no census question on that?

  10. Scribe 10

    Daveski,

    Don’t you know that minorities can NEVER be over-represented? Sheesh, it’s liberalism 101.

    captcha: Moses suggested (Ten Commandments, anyone?)

  11. Daveski 11

    Stephen

    Exactly – how can you be over or underrepresented if there is no magic formula?

    LOL Captcha – “Unable out” – someone is having fun!

  12. Stephen 12

    Daveski, you started it! nyah!

  13. Tim Ellis 13

    Pansy Wong isn’t a list only candidate ahead of Chester Borrows. She’s standing in the new safe National seat of Botany. Georgina is a list candidate, but I would think Hekia Parata is more likely to get in Cabinet ahead of Georgina. I also think both Chester and Hekia are more likely to make cabinet ahead of Lindsay Tisch, John Carter, Paul Hutchison, and David Carter, who he should leapfrog.

    National has selected a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds in both safe seats as well as highly likely list spots. As much as you like to criticise National for tokenism SP, you would have to admit that the Labour Party would bend over backwards to have people of the calibre, prestige, intellect, and profile of Hekia Parata, Sam Lotu-Iiga, Kanwal Bakshi, Melissa Lee, Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Louise Upston, Paul Quinn, and Nikki Kaye standing in winnable places, either in electorates National will win or on the list, this time.

    Given the paucity of talent in Labour’s lower ranks (the names Jill Pettis, Harry Duynhoven, George Hawkins, Steve Chadwick, Judith Tizard, Sue Moroney, Mahara Okeroa, David Benson-Pope, Ashraf Choudhary, Mark Burton, Rusell Fairbrother, Martin Gallagher, Lynne Pillay, Ross Robertson, Lesley Soper are neither diverse nor talented, in terms of profile, intellect, or prestige), it’s quite ironic you should be digging at National’s talented, intellectual, and prestigious range of people who will be newly elected to Parliament for National.

  14. Draco TB 14

    Bryce Edwards has a good write up about Nationals PC list over at Liberation.

  15. Tim. i dont’ concede that at all labour woud want those people – why would Labour want a bunch o’ tories as candidates?

  16. A different sort of critique of the National Party’s diversity project can be found in a blog post I wrote yesterday, entitled: ‘National goes politically correct’.

    Here’s the first paragraph:

    Has the National Party become politically correct? Its 2008 election candidate list suggests so, and in a sense it’s been rather PC for some time. Now the party is attempting to diversify itself by becoming ethnically-diverse and more gender balanced to reflect the modern face of New Zealand society. While of course there is absolutely no attempt to make the National caucus reflect the class nature of New Zealand society (which is overwhelmingly working class), it should be questioned whether this form of identity politics borrowed from the liberal-left is anything more than window dressing that obscures more important elements of what the National Party represents.

    I also argue that the new ethnic minority candidates being embraced by National or not from the poor and working class. They are instead businesspeople and highflying consultants people like Hekia Parata, Paula Bennett, and Sam Lotu-Liga. It should be clear therefore that the diversity of “New National’ does not extend to class.

    And furthermore, this brings into sharp focus the fact that there’s nothing particularly radical, leftwing or challenging about politically correct diversity. Rather than being any real type of liberation, political correctness is usually all about obscuring discrimination and privilege. So don’t be fooled.

    Read more here:
    http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2008/08/national-goes-p.html

    Bryce

    [Update: I now see that “Draco TB” (above) has also linked to my blog. Thanks. This refers to the same blog post.]

  17. Julie 17

    I’ve done some analysis of National’s list too, particularly in relation to the place of women:
    http://thehandmirror.blogspot.com/2008/08/womans-place-national-party-list.html

    It’s pretty appalling to me that they can only find four women to put in their top 20, and that even then they are ranked quite lowly (7, 10, 17 and 20). Don’t even start me on the ethnicity thing – the only 2 women ranked ahead of sitting MPs are “double whammies”, ie tick an ethnic minority box as well as being female (Parata and Lee).

  18. Scribe 18

    the only 2 women ranked ahead of sitting MPs are “double whammies’, ie tick an ethnic minority box as well as being female (Parata and Lee)

    Labour prefers “triple whammies” like Louisa Wall — ethnic minority, female AND a lesbian. JACKPOT!!

  19. randal 19

    scribe..are you jealous?

  20. Quoth the Raven 20

    I think the is point is that National is the only party that wants everyone to know how diverse they are (whether they are or not). It comes back to that all important perception thing. Other parties are diverse but don’t make have to make a campaign issue of it because they aren’t seen to be a vehicle for the intersets of a small group or at least the same small group that National are a vehicle for.

  21. Jeeves 21

    Paula Bennett was not some sort of Aristocrat-for-hire as you imply. She was a solo mother from West Auckland!

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    Tim Ellis, if these National candidates have such “calibre, prestige, intellect, and profile” that you’ve seen fit to repeat that statement several times, can you tell me why they’ll all be at the back, behind the 1996 National cabinet?

  23. randal 23

    does diverse mean they have a wide stance?

  24. higherstandard 24

    Mat

    For the same reason that Mallard, Tizzard etc are still there.

    In the private sector they call it bum on seat (the fact you’ve been around a long time)

    Both the major parties could do with a good clean out and some new faces and ideas.

  25. roger nome 25

    Wow – a left-leaning comment from Bryce! I stand gobsmacked. What’s come over you bro? Usually you restrict yourself to condemning the left as “authoritarian”, and “anti-free speech”. Anyhow, well done Bryce.

  26. roger nome – thanks for the complement. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I translate your comment as: “Wow – an anti-National comment from Bryce!” Or have some previous comments been in some way not left-wing? Or just not pro-Labour?

    Bryce
    http://www.liberation.org.nz

  27. Ari 27

    Labour prefers “triple whammies’ like Louisa Wall — ethnic minority, female AND a lesbian. JACKPOT!!

    Now all they need is a lesbian Maori transwoman. 😛

  28. Tim Ellis 28

    Matthew, an interesting comment. While National’s diversity candidates will be at the back of the photo initially, that’s just a matter of parliamentary experience. Experience from both parties show that promoting people straight to Cabinet has its problems. In three to six years I would expect to see these people on National’s front benches.

    Many of the people currently in the front two rows of National I’d see retiring in the next five years or so. I’d be surprised if many of the group from Maurice Williamson (57), Lockwood Smith (60), Paul Hutchison (60ish), Georgina Teheuheu (65), Murray McCully (55), Lindsay Tisch (62), Wayne Mapp (56), Tim Groser (59), David Carter (56), John Carter (58), Richard Worth (60), Allan Peachey (60), John Hayes (60), Jackie Blue (57?), or Chris Auchinvole (63) lasted another term. I’d be even more surprised if any of them lasted more than two more terms. This isn’t a reflection on them personally: they’re just all well into their fifties, some over 60 now, and you’d be daft to think they were going to go on forever.

    By the same measure I don’t think you’d realistically say that Helen Clark, Phil Goff, Annette King, Michael Cullen, Chris Carter, George Hawkins, Judith Tizard, and Steve Chadwick will go on forever. Even the PM, who probably has the highest work rate of any MP in modern history, can’t keep that up for much longer.

    National has embraced a whole new generation of people who will enter Parliament this time, and will gain experience that will qualify them to join Cabinet. Labour has a lot more cleaning out to do, and I think the best time to do that is after an election loss.

    What is interesting is that in the next few years we will see a generation change from the baby boomers to Generation X. National’s already made the big move with John Key and Bill English and with a lot of Gen Xers entering Parliament this time. Labour’s front line is pretty short on these people: David Cunliffe, Lianne Dalziel, Darren Hughes, Nanaia Mahuta, Moana Mackey, Louisa Wall and Charles Chauvel are the only Gen Xers in Labour’s caucus.

    By contrast, National has eleven Gen Xers just in the top 30, and another 21 Gen Xers who will most probably join National’s ranks this election.

    That’s a lot of regeneration and rejuvenation that Labour’s still to go through. One of them, or some new Gen Xer who isn’t in Parliament yet, will have to step up to the leadership spot when Helen retires. That’s going to need a big, forced internal shift in the Labour Party that will probably leave a lot of bruised personalities–about as big as National went through when the baby-boomer David Lange succeeded Rob Muldoon as Prime Minister.

  29. Anita 29

    Stephen,

    Yes, but for a variety of reasons not all identifiable groups produce as much ‘cabinet level’ material as the historically well-to-do ‘NZ European’ group.

    What do you think the variety of reasons are?

  30. Greg 30

    Should National base their candidate selection on race and gender? For thats what you seem to be suggesting

  31. Anita 31

    Greg,

    Who do you think is suggesting that?

    I, for what it is worth, am suggesting that the selection process and surrounding context of both National and Labour is gender and ethnically biased. If it were not I would expect to see lists which show roughly equal proportions to that in the general population.

  32. Julie 32

    Greg it’s not about promoting people because of their gender, race, whatever, it’s about recognising that there are people out there have ability who might not fit the usual demographic (ie white, male, heterosexual, 40+, etc) of those already in powerful positions. And that having them on board might bring more ideas and more experiences to the table.

  33. Draco TB 33

    The drawback of representative democracy is that it’s minority rule. The vast wealth of information and ideas in the general community are effectively bypassed and no amount of tokenist representation will change that no matter what party tries to implement it.

  34. Julie 34

    Well then Draco shall we not even try? That’s a pretty defeatist attitude you’ve got there, imho. It rather excuses those who choose not to try too. How convenient.

  35. Draco TB 35

    Of course we should try but we shouldn’t expect any real change while we use the same system.

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