29 December 2010

Simplistic Interpretation of Female Support Shift

I take exception to Keith Baldrey's simplistic interpretation of why female voters will play a key role in the next BC election - not that they will, but why their support may be shifting from the NDP to the Liberals.

According to Baldrey (chief political reporter for Global BC - oh dear!), one of the pillars pushing women's support away from the NDP is "the brutal take-down of a female leader" by members of that party.

I submit the reason instead to be the problems with the NDP leadership, provincial council and other internal machinery.

Baldrey's second pillar is squeezing that former NDP female support toward the Liberals.

were [Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark] to become premier it is likely the Liberals would stand a good chance of corralling a huge chunk of the electorate denied them in the past. I suspect Clark appeals to a lot of young and middle-aged women voters...

Why? Because she's a woman?

Women have been voting for men for decades.

We also don't vote as a block. Women don't vote on the basis of gender but on a candidate's ability to represent the values and concerns that each female voter deems important. Just because a candidate wears a skirt doesn't mean she shares another woman's concerns.

As for female support leaving the NDP, Baldrey has more to say:

The NDP has long prided itself as a champion of the interests of women, and it even implemented an affirmative action policy to ensure more female candidates in the last election. But it is now seen as the party that undemocratically turfed a female leader, and it will undoubtedly elect a man to succeed Carole James.

In fact, it will be interesting to see if any women even run for the NDP leadership... If none do, it will be a stunning commentary about the party's true commitment to the interests of women.

Traditionally, the NDP has drawn more female voters than have the Liberals. According to Baldrey's logic, that must mean the NDP has always had female leaders.

As for that "stunning commentary about the party's true commitment to the interests of women" should no female candidate for leader come forward... again there haven't always been female leaders or female candidates for leader.

Should we construe from this that the party has never previously had a commitment to the interests of women? And does it have such an animal now - specifically to women, rather than to people, men or women, who share similar concerns?

Putting Baldrey's simplistic interpretation of the situation aside, women are more likely leaving the NDP because they see, as many men have seen, that trouble is a-brewing. A party that can't manage itself shouldn't be given a mandate to manage a government.

As for Clark's alleged appeal to an alleged mysterious block of women because she's a woman, I suggest instead that the appeal is her (again, alleged) outsider status to the Campbell government. That appeal has drawn interest from both men and women and as more becomes known of Clark's background and (absent) policy, that interest will again likely shift.

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