Sunday, May 21, 2006

Women in Labor: some questions

The week before last, I took part in a survey that put Julia Gillard well out in front as preferred federal Labor leader. Of the five names on offer, she got 35% of the vote -- and this from a sample of over 1,200 respondents in which men outnumbered women 2-1.

Then came Kevin Rudd with 20%, and after him, wait for it, Paul Keating with 15%. Kim Beazley limped in fourth at 10% -- less than the 12% 'uncommitted vote' -- and Bill Shorten barely rated.

So. Has it occurred to anyone else that the Labor Right's great big push to fast-track Shorten might be as much an anti-Gillard move as it is a pro-Shorten one? Is this a conscious move to defeat the Left, or the unconscious ignoring of the woman in the equation that most women over 40 have experienced at some point in our careers? Is the Right acting on homosocial groupthink, or on the unacknowledged assumption that a factional victory is more important than a Party one?

Either way, are they going to stuff up the most promising prospect of a female federal party leader that Australia has ever had?

And if they do, will we be surprised?

15 comments:

Zoe said...

She's Left, Pav. If a man of her talent and appeal were of the Left, things might be desperate enough to risk it. But no, I don't think she will never be Prime Minister.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Her Leftness was what I meant about the Right trying to shaft her, but I take your point about her position making it even harder for her, and that was why I was so astonished when she got 35% of the votes in that survey.

All of which is no doubt why in recent speeches she has trashed the whole idea of factions and may be trying to distance herself from formal affiliations. But I agree with you; I don't think she'll ever be PM either, short of some strange quirk of circumstance that nobody could ever have foreseen.

mark bahnisch said...

Will we be surprised?

No.

As I commented a while back, her speech calling on the federal leadership to leave their factions provides her with an out from the Left alignment. Anna Bligh (Queensland Deputy Premier) is probably going to do the same when she steps into Peter Beattie's shoes.

comicstriphero said...

When I see those poll results I often think back to the aftermath of her Australian Story interview.

That was half an hour of coverage and think of all the hoo-hah that followed:

"You mean, she's a woman, and she doesn't have kids? Are you sure??!"

Imagine what it would be like for her as leader of the opp...

Pavlov's Cat said...

I dunno, CSH, as I get older I'm not so sure that childlessness is that big of a deal with Teh People at large. It may even be that those of us who have for whatever reason remained sprogless are projecting somewhat. With Gillard of course it was a good meeja angle, and of course the conservatives would use it to get at her, but about the actual voters I'm not so sure. Here in Adders we have an extremely successful and high-profile female politician called Jane Lomax-Smith, former Lord Mayor and now senior Labor politician, and I don't even know whether she any kids or not.

ThirdCat said...

In New Zealand, people got over Helen Clark's childless state quite quickly. Also, she had shocking hair in photos. Not sure about the state of her kitchen but. I don't see that situation being replicated here. Still, as they say 'stranger things have happened'. I have to believe it.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yeah, but NZ is a different mindset entirely.

comicstriphero said...

I guess I was more concerned about the potential for der meeja to refocus on that issue.

I guess I shouldn't worry about it too much. I have a feeling it is going to the Beazer fronting up to the polls next year.

prefertoremainanonymous said...

Teh People don't really care about her childlessness - heck, most women completely understand that politics at that level is no easy fit with motherhood - but the NSW Right really do see her childlessness as a problem.

Mark said 'calling on the federal leadership to leave their factions provides her with an out from the Left alignment' - no, it just makes it clear to everyone in the partythat she is from the Left, because iconoclasm about factions is the basis of the traditional Socialist Left position.

Beazley will be the leader at the next election, despite the plotting of Robertson and Unions NSW and Belan at the NUW in Sydney to oust him. Those guys might not get Beazley out at a time that suits them, but they will never, ever consent to Gillard being put forward as leader. Her links are to their enemies, and they share the AWU's view that Rudd and Shorten are the future.

I'm not sure that Gillard is leadership material any more. I'm very interested in whisperings about Combet considering running - he's a unifier and a solid, consistent, measured performer with much more to recommend him than Shorten, whose good bloke exterior covers up a hard heart.

Ron said...

If I see Shorten on TV again anytime soon, I am going to sell it!!!!

Dean said...

Regardless of who takes over from Beazley, there's no doubt that he will not win in 2007. He sounds like a dead dog. Dead man walking.

If they leave him in charge they'll certainly lose.

Kate said...

There's nothing useful I can say about this. Left and female and childless. How horrible we lefty females with no children are. *goes off to seethe in the corner*

tigtog said...

Everybody knows all you childless wimmins really want kids deep down.


Your gullet.


In syrup. With figs.


You can't fool us.

Daniel said...

For quite some time I have supported Julia as the Leader the Labor Party needs. She's smart, good in Parliament, and she's single-minded.

She runs rings around her 'try-to-please-everyone' boss!

Kate said...

It's true. I've sublimated the maternal urge so deeply that it has become the cannibalist urge...