The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

And in the Blue Corner

And so the debate about the make-up of the Labour caucus continues - Carl has posted about the shock news that there are some unionists amongst the Labour MPs, while Insolent Prick has analysed the Red Team to portray it at (what he considers) its worst. You'd never guess he has strong associations with National.

But let's turn the tables a little here - let's look at National for just a few moments. I know that in general people don't like to overly scrutinize National MPs, goodness knows why, but perhaps they deserve a little bit of our attention.

In comments to my post refuting Fran O'Sullivan's attack on the make-up of the Labour caucus, Psycho Milt postulated that a change of Government probably wouldn't see that journalist similarly writing about the lack of "union activists, teachers, lecturers, community workers and nurses" the National caucus has.

So just how many does it have? I live but to serve...

Nurse aide, community worker ("welfare representative") - Paula Bennett
Secondary teacher - Gerry Brownlee
Primary and secondary teacher - Brian Connell
Nurse - Jo Goodhew
Community worker ("youth education coordinator") and union member (4 years in the Clerical Workers Union* in the mid 80s) - Tau Henare
Legal academic - Wayne Mapp
Secondary teacher - Allan Peachey
"Junior lecturer" - Lockwood Smith
Physics teacher (secondary) - Maurice Williamson

As with the Labour MPs, I've looked only at their bios on the Parliamentary website, for consistency's sake. Feel free to make additions/subtractions in comments.

I'd note that "community worker" is about as hard to pin down as "business person" and "entrepreneur" were for the Labour list. Further I haven't included Nick Smith, as he was a tutor at university, not a lecturer, or Nicky Wagner (a lecturer, but at a polytechnic which doesn't quite fit the Labour stereotype) but I'm willing to argue the toss on whether they count or not.

The above is a considerably shorter list than that produced by applying O'Sullivan's list ("Business people, successful entrepreneurs, military men, scientists, accountants, farmers, diplomats and even a few lawyers") to Labour MPs.

Psycho Milt's list works out at:
Union activists - maybe one**
Teachers - four
Lecturers - two (four if you include Smith [N] and Wagner)
Community workers - two
Nurses - one (and one nurse aide)

So what we can conclude here is that the stereotypes applied to Labour MPs apply even less to the National caucus than the reverse.

Newsflash indeed!

* The Clerical Workers Union amalgamated with what is now the Service and Food Workers Union during the 1990s.
** Despite David Farrar's pronouncement in comments over on a post about this at Just Left that many National MPs would have been union members over the years only one listed it. And I note that the one who did is an import from another party.


Anonymous said...

National List MP Nicky Wagner taught at secondary schools in Christchurch in the 1970s/early 80s. I'm pretty sure she taught English - maybe social studies too.

Of course, we all know what Otago MP Jacqui Dean did in the 1980s - Play School presenter. She was also secretary or president of the actors guild (union for actors) at one stage.

It's rather amusing how the Nats constantly bleat on about the number of school teachers in Labour. However, don't forget that New Zealand's first female Prime Minister had a Diploma of Teaching and was a primary school teacher, prior to family/community life and politics.

sagenz said...

so actually you prove our point. National is mainstream and represents all New Zealanders whereas Labour is a narrow range of union, academic & rainbow.

There are union reps, teachers, nurses & academics in New Zealand. National has representation of them and is not narrowly based.

Thanks for comprehensively proving IP's point span. ;)

Aucklander At Large said...

Well, National certainly has more PhD's than Labour;
N Smith, L Smith, Worth, Mapp, (and not so long ago Brash) (correct me if any of those are MD's)

Compared to just Cullen.

Spending 3 years writting in a university environment is hardly what I would call real-world experiance, especially compared to working for a trade union...

Insolent Prick said...


You have mistaken my point--that the Labour Party is composed almost exclusively of unionists, teachers, members of the rainbow community, ethnic minorities, or a combination of the above, with some kind of criticism of unionists, teachers, members of the rainbow community, or ethnic minorities.

By doing so, you're either deliberately missing the point, or you're simply very stupid.

My criticism is of Labour's system that will not select anybody outside a very certain mould of person. What are the chances, for example, of a middle class, white heterosexual male in business being selected for a winnable position in the Labour Party? Very slim, as it turns out.

It makes an utter hypocrisy of the Prime Minister's own statement that the Labour Party needs to renew itself, when for the last fourteen years of leadership of the Labour Party, she has fashioned the caucus, and the Party List, in her own image. Yes, Aunty Helen can retire Jill Pettis and Dianne Yates; what she will have replacing them is people from exactly the same mould in return. That is hardly a renewal.

Psycho Milt said...

For a good laugh at IP's expense, consider your own stereotype of National (farmers, company directors, accountants, lawyers, the occasional ex-cop) and then go take a squiz at the CVs of its MPs to have your prejudice richly confirmed.

Anonymous said...

Another PhD in Labour AAL is Ashraf Choudhary. Clark of course was just short of completing her PhD - elected to Parliament in 1981 but had been working on it for much of the late 1970s.

Span said...

In a hurry, but...

Let me get this straight.

1. Fran O'Sullivan suggests that the Labour party needs more of those usually seen as stereotypically National on its list.

2. I point out that there are in fact quite a few of these types of people already in the Labour caucus.

3. Psycho Milt suggests that O'Sullivan won't similarly criticise National for its lack of those seen as stereotypically Labour types in its caucus, should it get back into the Beehive.

4. I do some analysis to show that there are some National MPs who fit in to the Labour stereotypes suggested by PM, however the list is considerably shorter than the one I compiled for Labour, from the same source material, in 2 above.

And somehow Sagey you think that I am proving the point that National is "Mainstream NZ"?

Kindly explain, because it seems to me that my posts show that in fact Labour has more National stereotypes than National does Labour stereotypes. Which would make Labour more diverse than National and thus more representative of our society, imho.

Span said...

Also, thanks to those Anons who have been adding details, I will edit them into the main post when I get a chance but it may be a couple of days.

sagenz said...

Labour is not diverse. it conforms to the sterotype. National is diverse. It covers the spectrum. read it all again with more time on your hands

Span said...

So sage did you read my post about those in Labour who had careers outside the stereotype at all?

Both Labour and National have MPs who have in their past lives pursued careers that don't conform to the public perceptions of their parties.

And the list for Labour is longer than the list for National.

Jordan Carter said...

This is just more of the same, from the same old boring voices. It's a reflexive unwillingness to accept that their own prejudices don't stand up to scrutiny. I wouldn't worry about them too much Span. The literal answer to your question "did you read..." is "yes, but it didn't sink in, because my framing means I can't accept it as being true, even though I know it is."

Tough break. It's why these people are whining on the blogs, not actually in the zone of action.

Aucklander At Large said...

National is diverse

That would be why they had to parachute Chris Finlayson, Tau Henare, Paula Bennett, and Pansy Wong into high spots on their list. So they could be "diverse".

What a fucking joke.