Friday, July 5, 2013
Lindsay Mitchell: Radical feminists push for Labour Party quotas
Listening to the radio news last year, I heard a mild-mannered fellow attending the 2012 Labour Conference questioning the merits of a female quota applied to electorate committees and candidates. He had hardly begun when he was jeered down by other audience members. It was a window into Labour Party politics I would rather have not looked through.
The women behind a push to impose quotas, effectively banning male candidates in certain electorates, are feminist radicals. They divide. They thrive on the politics of resentment and utu. It matters not that their proposal to achieve 'equality' hurts someone else along the way. The end justifies the means.
But any form of injustice cannot be reduced by introducing a new one. Labour once understood that. It was a party that held equality of opportunity dear and fast. Attempts to enforce equality of outcome are a different beast though. They come at a considerable cost.
In this instance Labour leader, David Shearer has already spotted the costs (achieving a caucus that is 50 percent female by 2017 is going to be a fat lot of good if it's fifty percent of a decimated number) and rejected the idea. But with too little conviction. He poured only warm water on the quota proponents, including the Party President, by agreeing that the aim was a good one. Labour needs more women MPs he says, but should set targets, not quotas.
I am still perplexed about the inherent desirability of women as MPs. When I stood as an ACT candidate I am certain woman on the left wouldn't have welcomed my arrival in parliament. Feminists labelled my opposition to the domestic purposes benefit as "misogynist". So being a female isn't the most important aspect of an individual's suitability for politics after all.
In fact, what Labour women want is more feminists in positions of power. Women who would push for gender quotas beyond their own party and parliament. Quotas in boardrooms and universities for example. Women who would push for greater government-mandated wealth redistribution in favour of females. Ultimately, women who want the state to have ever greater powers to socially engineer a society that accords with their worldview.
Social engineering is apparently what contributed heavily to the demise of the Clark government. So Shearer not only needs to dismiss quotas as inequitable and draconian, but start questioning the legitimacy of twenty first century feminism. Females have equal opportunity. The freedoms and choices they enjoy are unparalleled in history.
He might even look back at what racial quotas have achieved in New Zealand's history. Have Maori seats lifted the lot of Maori?
If he uses his head, Shearer could turn this conflict into a win for Labour, but he has to be prepared to spill some blood. Personally I don't think he has what it takes to stand up to the feminists. Probably they are quite important to the party machinery. But as the saying goes, you can't please all the people all the time. Try to and you'll end up pleasing no-one.
The leader now has an opportunity to cut the feminists loose with a voting public largely understanding and supportive of why.
It's going to be a fascinating showdown. But if the feminists win, Labour loses.
at 6:16 PM