When you think you have the answers, I steal your questions

The whippersnappers* of Young Labour have done a very good job canvassing Cunliffe, Jones and Robertson’s feelings on a number of topics … so I’m just shamelessly springboarding off their hard work to provide my own take (and also transcribe the answers for those who can’t read the images).

Of course, they were always going to start with the dread ManBan.

Do you support a 50% quota for women in Parliament?

Robertson:  I am totally committed to ensuring the Labour caucus is 50/50 men and women.

Nice and straightforward, doesn’t actually address the question.

Jones:  I don’t support a quota system, I will reward merit and take innovative steps to attract quality candidates regardless of gender, ethnicity or creed.

Surprise surprise, Shane Jones believes in a meritocracy and doesn’t think he should take this golden opportunity to address the fact that people think he’s a fucking misogynist troll.

Cunliffe:  I’d like to see Parliament made up of 50% women, but it’s not something we can legislate for.  The place for deciding on quotas is in political parties.  I am committed to 50% of Labour’s caucus being women no later than 2017 and earlier if practicable.  That means a real effort to change our culture.

Well, you can actually legislate for that kind of thing, David … but points for actually addressing the question and stating clearly that this is something requiring a culture change.

Do you support legalising marijuana?  Did you inhale?

Cunliffe:  I am comfortable with personal possession of marijuana being a minor infringement.  I do not believe that it makes sense to waste significant police resources on this issue.  Did I ever smoke marijuana?  I was a student in the early 80s but I swear I did not inhale while writing poetry.

A nice balanced answer, though not one that’s going to convert any ALCP members.  And I like Cunliffe’s ability to make a joke of himself, which neatly takes the sting out of bullshit hacks’ jabs at him.

Jones:  I am not a smoker and will not put any priority on legalising marijuana.


Robertson:  Like any drug we need tight regulation, but I favour a partial decriminalisation approach.  I have to say though that this issue is not a major priority for me.  As for inhaling, yes, not for many years, and I did not particularly enjoy it.

Another balanced answer, but it’s always super-telling when a politician uses the phrase “I have to say though”.  It’s an ass-covering manoeuvre, a sop to the people who will freak out over the statement preceding it.

Do you believe that abortion should be decriminalised?

*QoT rolls up her sleeves and readies the chairleg of truth*

Robertson:  All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health.  That is an absolute non negotiable.  In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.

… well that was unexpected.  It wasn’t Holly Walker levels of awesome, but given the last Labour leader to be asked the question decided to put his male privilege on full display by declaring he “hadn’t given it much thought”, I’m impressed, Grant.

Jones:  Abortion, for me will always be a matter for an MP’s conscience.

Surprise surprise, Shane Jones hides behind the conscience issue – but won’t actually let us know what his conscience (I assume here that he has one) would tell him to do.  And that’s a big fucking deal for a party leader.

Cunliffe:  I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected.  The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent.  The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.

David does well here, but … yeah, a definite second place.  Saying the law “hasn’t been reviewed for many years” is a massive understatement which is barely balanced by “that is now urgent”.  And I just hate the conscience issue thing.  Sure, abortion is widely seen as a “moral” issue, but we don’t have fucking Parliamentary conscience votes on whether Viagra can be advertised on television during the cricket, and Viagra isn’t a necessary medical procedure the lack of which might kill people.

Of course, Robertson and Cunliffe both make abortion purely a woman’s issue.  They’re neither of them strident feminists, and if Grant thought about it he probably didn’t want to hand the religious extremists another “look at the gay man who is gay!!!!” attack of opportunity.

What I’m most torn on is Jones’ answers.  Because I think he’s below pondscum, I read his brief, politic responses as either the kind you give when you don’t really respect the person asking your questions, or the kind you give when you lack the political instinct to figure out how to turn it best to your advantage.  Cunliffe and Robertson have both made efforts to either cement their progressiveness or reinforce their moderateness and they’re definitely aiming at the Young Labour audience.  Jones doesn’t seem to give a fuck.

On the other hand, there’s probably plenty of people out there who will see that as a good thing: straight-talking, no waffle.  No real principles either, but that probably doesn’t matter to Jones supporters.


*Oh god I feel old.


  1. Tim

    Like almost all of this, other than the saying that Jone’s answer to the Did you inhale? question was straightforward. It wasn’t. “I am not a smoker” is another completely weaselly dodge of a non-answer.

    • QoT

      I read that as “I’ve never smoked” … but you have a point. And he is the candidate priding himself on appealing to the smoko room!

  2. Benjamin

    How does Grant’s first answer not address the question? He says he supports the target of 50%. The question doesn’t ask which mechanism should be used (e.g. women-only shortlists)