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The zen of Key

Written By: - Date published: 12:35 pm, September 5th, 2011 - 42 comments
Categories: john key, sexism - Tags:

An alert reader sent in the link to Key on RadioLive today (end of the 7:30-7:45 recording) trying to explain why there are so few women on his party’s list, particularly in the top rankings. It’s like entering a place where words are devoid of both meaning and melody, and eloquence is heresy:

“Yeah. I guess, the important point to understand there is that the top, in fact, 25 … 23 have been ranked effectively on their Cabinet ranking.

It doesn’t mean that they would be in Cabinet next time. It doesn’t mean that they would be in that ranking next time.

But, with the exception of Lockwood Smith, who is put at number three just simply, you know, constitutionally is the Speaker of the House, you know, he’s a very, very important person behind the – you know, kind of, in our party leader and a deputy leader, then he comes next.

Everyone else has just been ranked in rankings.

So yeah, of course we’d like to have more women in the top 10 and that involves us putting more women in the top 10 if we possibly can.”

At the end there, I heard the sound of one hand clapping. Hard. Against my head.

42 comments on “The zen of Key ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    I though Lockwood was retiring this year or is he just giving his electorate seat to someone else?

    • Electorate seat given up, Rodney. Was quite a kerfuffle about the selection. i suspect he’ll retire mid-term and allow someone else in the on the list this way, rather than a by-election.

  2. sally 2

    I think he’s waiting for High Commissioner to London to come up, Draco.

  3. fabregas4 3

    This segment is fast becoming farce. Last week on the back of the release regarding child poverty in NZ Lush asked about Key’s opinion on whether the All Blacks will win the WC and fathers day. Soon after he got stuck into an AA guy about stickers of safety for Taxis (which whilst a rather silly occurance is rather less important in the scheme of things). Just how much did the government lend Media Works?

    • tc 3.1

      Lush is to serious journalism what Jack Kervokian is to longeivity…..too much drugs and fluffy shows about scenery and trains has he ever done anything weighty ?
      Specifically chosen by Keys minders for an easy ride….craig’s on the money it’s SOP between the nats and their media mates.
      There’s a sign at a local talkback station on the simpsons ‘ home of the unsolicited rant ‘ whereas at media works it’s ‘home of the sponsored rant’

  4. Mac1 4

    Nah, Key’s being perfectly clear- “that involves us putting more women in the top 10 if we possibly can.” He hasn’t, (he is you know, kind of Leader after all,) so it can’t be possible. Why not?

    The women are not good enough for the job in National’s strictly merit-based system? The men won’t let him promote women over them? The women have all deferred to their male counterparts? The men are afraid of the women busting their balls? So, it’s either mysogyny or lack of e/quality.

  5. vto 5

    It’s just Joh Bjeikle-Peterson all over again

  6. grumpy 6

    This is bullshit. There is no requirement for a party’s list to reflect the gender, race, sexual orientation of the electorate. Parties set up their list in order to give them the best chance of being elected, presumably ability counts for more in National’s case, rather than just putting up a list because of one’s colour, sex or supposed appeal to any other minority pressure group.

    • Mac1 6.1

      So, grumpy, the National list women don’t cut the mustard, eh? Not the same ability as the men? Just checking to see if you see the corollary of National’s ability-based system. Mind you, you could be right there- ability at what, though?

      • grumpy 6.1.1

        Nah, any woman (or anyone) on National’s list has got there on merit (unlike some other parties). Perhaps you find it hard to accept that.

        Anyway, an interesting question arises – and one made more relevant by John Key’s huge popularity with women voters.

        “Who do women empathise with – a heterosexual “family man” or a (albeit female) lesbian?”

        • mik e

          Or a feminine wimp like Key or their closet gays like …………..

        • Mac1

          The problem is not, grumpy, that some women got onto National’s list at a meaningful level, but that not enough have to be a truly representational party that can call itself national. Got no problem with women getting there on merit. Why are there not enough meritorious women in National’s ranks?

          At the moment its a mostly male, older, straight party which doesn’t even campaign seriously in two electorates- Epsom and Ohariu. A sort of national minus Ohariu and Epsom party.

          As for your question to me ending “or a (albeit female) lesbian?” you’ll find that lesbians tend to be female. As for who you’re comparing with the great ‘family man” Prime Mincer……… get your closet prejudice out in the open, man …………….

          • stargazer

            “which doesn’t even campaign seriously in two electorates”

            and doesn’t compete at all in 7 others – which is yet another expression of contempt.

    • Hi Grumpy,

      Yes, lists should reflect ability, which presumably includes ability to represent and be familiar with a range of issues affecting the electorate. Those issues cover an enormous range, for many of which it is likely that women would tend to have greater familiarity than do men. And of course many issues would have their effects irrespective of gender.

      I think that National’s list reflects an historically low level of recruitment of a wide range of women to the party organisation and ‘activist base’ (who knows, this may change given Key’s current, relatively high, popularity with women voters). ACT clearly have a similar problem.

      It seems unlikely that there are disproportionately more men than women in the electorate who are able to represent and articulate the various issues of concern in the electorate. 

      There could, though, be an issue for some women, relative to men, of being able to devote time to political involvement. That would be a real, structural ‘issue’ in itself and would be revealing of the limitations of our current form of representative democracy.

      • grumpy 6.2.1

        You may wish to look at my comment above – do women necessarily represent other women’s values/aspirations – or can they be best met in some circumstances by men?

        • Puddleglum

          Possibly. But, then, the reverse is presumably just as likely (that women can represent men’s concerns sometimes better than men), so we’d be back at square one in terms of explaining the under-representation of women.

          • grumpy

            Why not aske the question if there needs (or should) be equal proportional representatrion and what does that actually achieve.

            Does it mean that by having the correct proportion of (say) female representatives, that women’s needs (whatever THEY are) are met?

            Or, that by having competent MPs (of whatever sex etc) is the best form of governance?

            • McFlock

              But then you get into the issue as to why some candidates are viewed as “competent” by selection boards and others aren’t.

              Or at the very least, if you sincerely believe that men are thrice as likely to be “competent” politicians as women, why would you think that might be?

            • Puddleglum

              Grumpy, I think you’re misreading my argument. Basically, it’s a logical one not a political one, or some claim that equal proportions of men and women on party lists must be enforced.

              If a selection process is ‘blind’ to gender then how are we to explain persistent and significant differences in the proportion of each gender?

              It must be that either (a) fewer women join that party; or (b) fewer women than men in that party put themselves forward for list positions; or (c) women who are members of that party are judged less competent than men because they are less competent (since the process is ‘blind’ to gender); or (d) some combination of (a), (b) and (c).

              The final possibility that I can see is (e) – there are equivalent numbers of women to men in the party, they put themselves forward for the list at the same rate as men, they are just as competent as the men but there is a bias in the selection process. But, that option means the selection process is not ‘blind’ to gender. (There are other options too – e.g., that women are discouraged from putting themselves forward, etc., but enough’s enough!)

              The other (logical) part of my argument is that any argument about the ability of men to represent interests of both men and women must equally apply to women. So, in answer to your question – does there need to be equal proportional representation? – the fact that either competent men or competent women should be equally able to represent both men and women means that there is still a curious discrepancy in the National Party list between proportions of men and women. 

              In a practical sense, that might not matter if, as you say, representation is itself ‘gender neutral’ – i.e., the job can be done equally well by a competent man or competent woman. But – and this is my point – there is still the curious artefact of this routine difference in proportions of men and women on the list.

              So the question remains: Why does it happen?

              Do you think that answering that question is of no interest or could not possibly reveal something interesting about the National Party? 

              I can see where you’re coming from – if it ‘works’ at what it needs to do (i.e., represent everyone) then who cares that there are different proportions? But that ‘pragmatic’ approach doesn’t answer the question I’m interested in.

              [The problem I have with ‘pragmatism’ is that it completely lacks curiosity and, so, it acts as a block to the growth of knowledge and understanding the world. That probably separates you and I on a lot of issues.]

    • Dean 6.3

      Are women a minority group? Might want to check your demographic tables again.

      You also might want to bother reading the full way through my post:

      “I’m not for tokenism. But the Right’s claim that the only way to get the Left gets diversity in its lists is by tokenism tells you a lot about what they think about women and non-Pakeha. Unless your party is inherently about the privilege of one group in society (cough white men cough), you’re going to find that you have talented people of all groups in your ranks. In fact, if you look lower on National’s list, it’s clear they engage in a lot of tokenism – as in their 2008 list, the late 30s is where they’ve plonked all the token MPs, high enough to get in, not high enough to have any power, and surrounded by white men above and below.”

      It is actually your beloved Key who is engaging in tokenism, rather than rewarding real talent.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    Assuming this is an accurate transcription, he managed not to say “actually” at all.

    He should be commended for that.

  8. Irascible 8

    What is Key’s brain running on? His sentence construction would require him attending remedial programmes for secondary and tertiary education. How & why he has any credibility never fails to surprise… from HardTalk to SoftTalk he never ceases to display his ignorance.

  9. Craig Glen Eden 9

    Key not making any sense is totally standard operation. The sick thing is he is never held to account,
    by the Journalists. No one ever says Prime Minister you are making no sense at all. Key is never fronted with the hard questions or policy matters, even in Parliament he leaves it to some else, he does a runner. This guy is not a Prime Ministers arse, but the absolute poor quality of journalism alows him to get away with it its like watch a series of the flight of the concords.

    • Craig Glen Eden 9.1

      Sorry about the spelling areas above some thing happened in the spell check mode that meant I couldn’t make the changes.

    • felix 9.2

      Craig I couldn’t agree more.

      How can any competent journalist hear a sentence like

      So yeah, of course we’d like to have more women in the top 10 and that involves us putting more women in the top 10 if we possibly can.

      and not respond “WTF PM??!!!??”

      Make him fucking well say what he means in proper grown-up sentences. It’s your job to hold him to account and you can’t do that by letting him get away with speaking in non sequiturs and tautologies.

      • You must remember that the journo/host is checking who the next caller is, watching the clock as time is money, pulling fluff from his belly button and paying no attention all to the content for fear that he might hit on a something that will require further questions and be cut short by the commercial break.
        It goes…..
        Ask “serious” question (because we have to) – don’t listen or follow up
        Ask another “serious” question  – don’t listen or follow up
        Ask a trivial, feel good, folksy question – get froth and bubble, man-of-the-people answer.
        “Thank you Prime Minister – that’s all we’ve got time for.”

  10. Tom Gould 10

    Sadly, Radio Live did not run the earlier comment when Key laments not being the Leader of the New Zealand National Party and therefore not being able to have direct influence over the makeup and ranking of the National Party list. It would be much easier if the Prime Minister was actually the leader of the governing party and the head of the cabinet, because that would help him no end to get more women on the National Party list in high, electable slots. Maybe he could take a look at that, after the election?

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Actually I think Key, in terms of, you know, being Prime Minister of Aus – of New Zealand, and this country, which is, you know, like here, is really very good at actually saying nothing, going forward, as Prime Minister he really, at the end of the day, if you take a step back, doesn’t say anything that, you know, could actually mean anything, in terms of meaning, which is kinda like, the reason he, and his job, government if you like, is popular because, nobody could possibly disagree, if you have a look at it, it’s actually really clever, and yeah, like, sentences that make sense only make trouble, so why use them?

    • ianmac 11.1

      🙂 gobsmacked.
      Of course if you use words that don’t actually mean anything and you put contradictions in for good measure what could you be held to account for? If you take a step back in the gobsmacked address @11 for example, then how could you pin him down to anything and now time is up so I must go and get f-f-fotographed.

  12. KJT 12

    Competent and intelligent women do not join National or ACT. They have much better bullshit detectors than men.

    • KJT 12.1

      Ackshully. Thinking a bit more about it there is a strange lack of competent and thoughtful men in the two parties, as well.

      Some indication any of them can read, would be good.

  13. Merkin 13

    To expand upon Marilyn Waring’s reflections on her time in our democratic system – the parliamentary system is a patriarchal clusterf*** and NACT are ground zero.

  14. Daniel 14

    The link isn’t producing the audio clip for me – can someone tell me what time and day it was aired?

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