Laws: Labour's sexist suicide mission

Last updated 05:00 07/07/2013
Sunday Star-Times columnist Michael Laws: Labour's housing policy is racist, but it will be popular in Auckland.

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One of the great problems with being a white, middle-aged male in New Zealand is that you are never cool, never in vogue and never given a fair go. There is a now cultural acceptance that your ethnicity, generation and gender is responsible for all bad things.

OPINION: And that the best way to redress your appalling crimes against humanity is to ensure that every other group gets employment, educational and social advantages that will never apply to you. So it is that we are a society of quotas - official and unofficial.

And that being Maori, being young, being a woman, being gay or being disabled actually has its privileges. This is to make up for the accepted fact that white heterosexual older men run the globe.

Such post-modern discrimination is justified on the basis that society is evening the odds. Which fails to recognise that most mainstream males are struggling to make a living, just like everybody else. In any contest between them and others, they are being programmed to lose.

This past week though, one of this country's most significant policy-makers - the Labour Party - decided to make discrimination overt. To be fair, that is the intent of their leadership, rather than their membership. But the implications are clear.

To impose a strict gender balance upon their parliamentary caucus, Labour wants to have women-only contests for electorate nominations. Should a male apply, the plan is to reject them. Even if they are gay, brown or disabled.

At first sight, the policy seems patently absurd. At second, third and fourth sight, it gets worse. It would not only be illegal under human rights legislation, but it sends the clearest of political messages: that talent, experience and intelligence is irrelevant in New Zealand, and political correctness is everything.

And if this is the thinking of the Labour Party leadership in Opposition, you can imagine such thinking will spread across the public sector when Labour is returned to government. The prospect of women-only jobs and appointments looms large. An unofficial prejudice made official.

If Labour wants to know why it is stuck in a polling wasteland, and John Key seems destined to repeat Helen Clark's three-term administration, this policy proposal explains all. Five years in Opposition has taught them absolutely nothing.

Such sexist suicide sends shudders through us all, even women. If Labour's logic is applied, professions they dominate - teaching, nursing, the media - will require reverse quotas. And let's ensure strict gender quotas for specialist undergraduate schools like law and medicine because women also dominate tertiary education these days.

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Which is the really odd thing about Labour's policy: it fails to recognise the massive societal change under way. It is actually young men who are under-achieving in the new currency of learning. And that will have massive implications for the next generation.

But obviously men aren't under-achieving enough for the Labour Party hierarchy. Some artificial nobbling is also required.

Especially, it would seem, of their party's electoral chances next year.

- Sunday Star Times

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