What sort of crazy, ideologically blinkered party would require that a set proportion of its candidates be women? The UK Conservative Party, that's who.
According to the NZ Herald, which has sourced its story from goodness knows where, the Labour Party is to consider at its annual conference a rule change that will mandate an element of gender equality in its candidate selection processes.
Over on Kiwiblog, DPF is having a right old chortle about this proposed "man ban". (Get it? "Man" rhymes with "ban"! It's a (snortle, chuckle) "Man (giggle, shnuffle) ban"!!!).
Fair enough - he's no fan of Labour, and so why wouldn't he stick the boot in? But the bit that gets me in his post is this:
I fervently hope that the Labour Party conference adopts these new rules. It will help marginalise them and make them more unelectable. Imagine having to campaign for a party that bans men from seeking selection in some seats!
Yes! Imagine how harrowing that must be - and how it must almost automatically lead to electoral oblivion! In fact, we could find out just how terrible it is by looking across to the United Kingdom, where the Labour Party has had "all-women short lists" in place since 1997 ... the year Tony Blair led Labour to a record landslide victory. And they kept them in place (even legislating to allow for this, via the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002) for each of the subsequent elections it won in 2001 and 2005.
But, of course, that's the UK Labour Party. Bunch of PC socialists, no doubt forced to placate the strident ideological feminists embedded in its ranks. A proper party, committed to allowing true competition on individual merit alone would never tolerate sentiments such as these:
We have to accept that our previous processes were consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, discriminatory against women. This also put women off from even trying to become ... MPs. I am determined to correct this injustice, which was wrong in principle and bad for our party and for our country. This is about raising our game across the board. It can't be done by excluding so many talented women or people from black and ethnic minorities.
Oh, you don't know who said that? Well, it was one David Cameron, back in 2006, defending his Conservative Party's decision to require constituencies to "pick [candidates] from a centrally agreed 'priority list' in safe and winnable seats. At least half the names on the list would be women, with a 'significant proportion' from black and other ethnic minority groups."
But don't worry. This wasn't adopting some sort of "fruit loop" postion (as DPF accuses New Zealand's Labour of). Cameron assured the public that these initiatives had "nothing to do with crude political calculation or crazed political correctness" but was all about "political effectiveness".
Only if we engage the whole country in our party will our party develop ideas that benefit the whole country. The conversation we have in the Conservative party must reflect the conversation in the country, and the sound of modern Britain is a complex harmony, not a male voice choir.
But still, I hear you cry, this wasn't a "man ban", really ... was it? After all, Cameron's measures were just ensuring that there were some women available to be chosen - but the constituency still was free to pick a man (chosen purely on "merit" alone, of course) instead. So it is completely different.
Well, maybe. Except that, in 2010, Cameron strengthened his position even further, announcing that because not enough women candidates were being chosen, he would impose all-women shortlists for the 2015 election.
Asked why the system should not be left as a “meritocracy,” he said: “It doesn’t work.
“I have a lot of sympathy with that view but, and it’s a really big but, we tried that for years and rate of change was too slow.
“If you just open the door and say ‘you’re welcome, come in,’ and all they see is a wave of white [male] faces, it’s not very welcoming.
“Changing a political party and getting things done is never easy. I had had to change the way we select and promote women. I have given the party a big shock on this issue.
"We have to recognise that the rate of change wasn't fast enough. We weren't going to be representative enough as a party, so I took the view that we had to give things a big shift and a big shake-up.
“The end result at this coming election is a party that is much more balanced.”
So there you go. NZ Labour - shifting so far to the left and so blinded by ideological fervour that they are doing the same thing as the UK Conservative Party is doing!
Oh - as for why Labour might want to do this? Well, as of the end of 2012, there were 2,254,200 women in New Zealand, compared to 2,181,500 men. Yet only 13 of Labour's 33 MPs were women. See the difference there?
Mind you, it's still not as bad as some other parties. We might note, for instance, that only 15 of National's 59 MPs somehow managed to be born with a vagina instead of a penis. And given that it is a party which allegedly is so committed to selecting candidates on "merit" alone, we might then draw start to draw conclusions about what is considered important by that organisation's heirarchy and membership.
And perhaps, whisper it softly, that is why DPF has reacted so strongly to Labour's proposed rule change. After all, better to shriekingly decry your enemy than to look at your own side and ask "why?"