Thursday, September 26, 2013

Minority, female and a little grumpy

I was thinking about blogging about that recent Herald Digipoll and then decided against it thinking – what’s the point? Every pundit has advice for David Cunliffe so I don’t need to get in on that action particularly because I don’t even understand the point of polls. (I’m lying, I understand the political point of them). That saying, I don’t think that the poll shows that Labour would get 37.7% if the election were held today. I think it shows that 37.7% are open to voting for Labour because they are and have been dissatisfied with National.

Over at Dimpost Danyl could tell us what this poll means in the context of other polls. David Farrar has provided an explanation. The Daily Blog are still probably having a party as you read this and Imperator Fish is probably be upto his usual mischief. Speaking of Imperator Fish – he tweeted the link to this Herald article written by one Damien Rogers and I read it. And then I got angry. And then I said "well he is from Massey". And then I realized I knew this Damien and didn’t connect the dots and felt bad so I deleted my tweet. I’m sorry I said that. I was angry. But now 6 hours have passed I’ve decided to write about it instead of making personal attacks which is generally not my style and is bad. Bad Lamia! But I was in my defense policy class at the time when I was fighting with 5 Army guys as to why women should be allowed in combat while they were telling me about how they will not reduce standards for women. I was in a bad place at the time.

Apparently the Labour party is “waging war for gender equality and minority rights”. If you want to see the make up of women and minority see QOT’s blog on the numbers. Labour is by no means doing THAT much better than National. So if Labour is waging war (which it is not) then it rightly should. Because women and minorities don’t have anyone else fighting their wars. As The Egonomist pointed out in their podcast a few weeks ago, where would Labour be without women? The answer: nowhere. They would not exist. It would be like saying the Greens are waging war against polluters and they should stop because most people don’t care. They have a constituency and that constituency does care. If the Greens didn’t fight for the environment, Green supporters would be very upset. Women and minorities traditionally support Labour BECAUSE LABOUR SUPPORTS THEM. Sorry I’m yelling. Grrr.

After he attacks the Labour leadership for being so women and minority friendly (I am both so yes, this is personal and yes, I am taking it personally), he then goes on to give advice on the center. I have already blogged about what I think of the so-called center so I wont rehash that.

Here’s the thing. This is exactly the reason why there are less women in positions of leadership in the public service. Because we are made to think that women can only think about their own vaginas and nothing else. Women can’t think about defense policy and economic policy (a guy once told me I can’t believe you said “current account deficit” out loud, do you even know what that means? I do but who cares right?). If a woman wins a seat, it’s because she is a woman and not that the membership voted for her and because she is capable of representing. At least the thought is women can't think about abortion and the economy at the same time. So if she is talking about abortion, she must be sacrificing her economic thought brain cells. In my case it's ethnic affairs (even though I probably understand economics more than ethnic affairs, I'm brown so I must know all there is to know about ethnic affairs.)

There are a lot of discussions around what kind of voters Labour should try to get? Should it be the disenfranchised? The beneficiaries? Women? Minorities? Who? I will be the first one to admit that there are policies that Labour back that are not popular with the generic ‘middle class white male’. Abortion, euthanasia, marriage equality, gender pay gap, paid parental leave are things that maybe white males do not care about. But someone has to think about them. If it is the Labour Party so be it. I fully believe they can do that and fix the economy at the same time. We all know that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs will not be asked to comment on the economy so Treasury can go implement its big boys policies (Yes, I know the Treasury is full of intelligent women) and the country can keep doing the same thing it’s been doing since 1984 and we can all calm down and stop worrying that the womenfolk are taking over.

Once again, I apologise to Damien about my deleted tweet. I have met him (he may not remember me) and he is a nice guy. But respectfully, he is wrong on this.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I did not vote for George.

If you have seen my tweets or know anything about me you know that I pretty much despise the Monarchy. I don’t really see the point of it and perhaps naively, I think that New Zealand becoming a Republic wouldn’t be much of a hassle. Over the last few days there has been a lot of talk about the Queen because the PM was visiting her as a guest at Balmoral. Much has been made of the fact that this hasn’t happened before and this is an example of how close John Key is with the Royal family (i.e. visits by Prince William etc).

I am a deeply cynical person and I think this is a very clever PR exercise by the family who are fast losing their relevance even in Britain. Most Britons that I have come into contact with do not have strong feelings about the Monarchy one way or the other. It’s almost out of laziness that they continue to hold onto the Monarchy (which is arguably why New Zealand hasn’t been rid of it either). The British Royal family has had pretty good PR in the last 5 or so years. William’s wedding/marriage followed by baby has pretty much removed all the bad will from the Charles/Diana years. But I think they are acutely aware that countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada do not have any particular reason not to be a Republic. I am sure they are aware of the surveys that are routinely conducted on our feelings towards being a Republic. They know that the conversation is happening. I think John Key is an easy target. He loves this stuff plus it is also good PR for him and when he comes back he is going to do their PR for them by stamping out any conversation about NZ being a Republic.

As with MMP, marriage equality and nuclear free campaigns, we can lead the way despite being a small country. We can be the country that Canada and Australian governments look to when they think about being a Republic or we can be the country they use as an example of why the Monarchy is just fine. At the end of the day we can be apathetic about this. Our system of checks and balance is not very robust. We do not have a written constitution for the judiciary to use when interpreting the laws. Parliament is supreme and there’s virtually no separation between the executive and the legislative branches. We can be apathetic or we can think about ways we can strengthen our democracy while becoming a Republic in the process.

Maybe I am being offensive to those Kiwis who can trace their ancestry to Britain. But I can’t tiptoe around those feelings when the idea of an undemocratic head of state repulses me so much. In the end what I’m saying is that so what if John Key got driven around by the Queen. She is just a person with a very good PR team. Why should we be swayed by that when we can be the intelligent nation that seeks to be an example of what stronger democratic mechanisms look like?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Parliament didn't kill my idealism

I’ve gone on a number of job interviews in the public service in Wellington. What I’ve noticed is that the questions are largely the same. They start with “Can you tell us about a time…” and end with something that will demonstrate the ability to show leadership, work within teams, respond to crisis, time management skills, work-life balance, professionalism, an assurance that the workplace will not be brought to disrepute, and the ability to employ critical analysis skills.

For the last week I’ve been wondering whether these criteria apply to those who hold the highest public office – our representatives in Parliament. They seem to be able to get away with a great deal without consequences and still hold on to their jobs (this applies to all sides of the House). If civil servants pulled half the stunts that Parliamentarians do, they would be sacked. Being elected by the people means that, sacking is only possible via elections. But it seems the public as the boss are rather kind. They are rather lenient.

My advice to Labour candidates – please try to adhere to the standards that you are going to impose on hundreds and thousands of public servants when you take office. Which standards you ask? See Paragraph 1.

Good luck to all candidates and to the caucus, party members, and unions - hope you get the outcome you wanted and if not, hope you find a way to accept it anyway.