Bob Jones tells it like it isn’t

Two articles I’ve read lately inspire this post – one, that Republican presidential candidate John McCain apparently has so much respect for women he was happy to publicly call his wife a “cunt” and a “trollop.”  None of which means, of course, that his selection of a woman as running mate is anything other than gender equality at work.

The second was a complaint by Bob Jones in his Politics Ringside column last week that Wellington Central MP Stephen Franks was ranked too low on National Party candidate lists:

He was an asset to Parliament as an ACT MP yet has been treated contemptuously with diverse humdrum aspirants ranked above him, whose principal credentials appear to be their ethnicity, gender or locality. 

Leaving Sir Bob’s advocacy for Stephen Franks and assumptions about ethnicity for another blog, I’d like to analyse the idea that Mr Franks is suffering politically in the National Party for being a man.

New Zealand ranks 14th in the world in terms of representation of women in Parliament.  Below Rwanda, Sweden, Cuba, Finland, Argentina, the Netherlands, Denmark, Costa Rica, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Mozambique and Iceland.  We have 40 female MPs, or 33.1% – in other words, here in New Zealand, being male helps you get into parliament.

So when ex-Labour MP John Tamihere complained in 2005 of “front-bums” (rumour has it that means women) being promoted just because they were women, he was clearly struggling with one in three MPs being women being just too many. 

But perhaps Sir Bob is right in terms of new list rankings of candidates for the 2008 election?

A number crunch gives this:


Political Party

Women in top ten

Women candidates in list (total)

Women candidates (%)

Women in top nineteen

Women candidates (%) in top nineteen



7 (60)




Green Party


19 (52)




Labour Party


30 (77)




Maori Party


11 (19)




National Party


19 (73)




Because the Maori Party has just nineteen candidates, I’ve included the last column to allow true comparison.  The Maori Party, the Greens and Labour all feature more than a third of women candidates, not all of whom are at the bottom of their lists.

It’s those right-wing parties that, bewilderingly, seem to find it hard to find women candidates.  Both ACT and the National Party have just two women in their top ten ranked spots, and bottom out just under 16% in their top nineteen.  

A parliament based on National and ACT rates of women participating would place us 73rd internationally.  Below Afghanistan and Pakistan, amongst other countries which champion gender equality. 

So I need to ask Bob Jones – if there are too many women stopping quality candidates like Stephen Franks standing for National – at 26% overall and 16% in the top nineteen – just how many women be an acceptable amount?

Or is Sir Bob wanting a return to the good old days, when men were men, and women knew their place….

2 thoughts on “Bob Jones tells it like it isn’t

  1. To be fair to our neocon nutters (the ACT Party for those who are not quite as pretentious as me), their gender balance representation IN Parliament is fairly good at 50% (the fact that they only have two MPs is another story altogether…).

  2. Pingback: 5th Down Under Feminists Carnival « HellOnHairyLegs

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