If there is a hell – it will involve people randomly breaking into song with pitchforks

The small person has developed a taste for musicals. I take this as proof that my partner had a dalliance with the sort of person who liked ‘Evita’ and that the person who calls me Mum is not my biological offspring. The deviance, encouraged by her grandmother who bought her Mama Mia (do I need to explain why a 7 year old singing ‘give me, give me, give me a man after midnight, is just so wrong?) Annie, and Mary Poppins.

After yet another day with a sick kid however, Mary won and out came the DVD. Happiness restored I sat and listened, amused, to Mrs. Banks and the ill one sing; ‘cast off the shackles of yesterday, shoulder to shoulder into the fray… our daughter’s daughters will adore us, and sing in grateful chorus: Well done! Well done sister suffragette!’ on Monday, exactly 114 years after New Zealand women gained the vote. Unfortunately it seems – their daughter’s daughter’s don’t adore them or even really get what all the marching and fuss was about. My generation got it because we still saw obvious signs around us of many of the jobs and systems for the boys. I think we might have over done it with the skin head hairdos and boiler suits though because the generation that came after us preface any objections to gender inequality with phrases such as “ Not sounding like a feminist or anything but….” And yet women are still missing in action in politics both here and internationally. Unlike Saudi women we do get to vote but as far as women MPs go, we have more than the US but less than Norway, Sweden and inexplicably Rwanda.

To my knowledge, there has never been a woman MP from Northland. The North instead seems to specialise in blokes whose political longevity relies not on dynamism and an ability to advocate and hustle to put something in the kete, but instead on their ability to continue breathing. Provided they are not caught chasing after underage strippers they get to stay. It’s like the Kremlin in the eighties – a conveyer belt of guys that all look the same and get replaced by someone who looks, acts and believes exactly the same. The Whangarei electorate is dire – the last time we had a change of colour here – I was 7. John Banks lasted for about 18 years until he was unleased upon Auckland. They must have wondered what the hell they’d ever done to us to deserve him. The current MP will have been in office for about 15 years by the time he romps home again next election.

My letterbox could do the same if only I could get it on the National party list. It’s not necessarily a bad thing it just makes for excruciatingly tedious politics. Sure, thanks to MMP the party vote still counts nationally for those of us who feel our electorate vote, because of substantive traditional margins and a lack of opposition, is essentially wasted. But it’s the lack of real sport in it that makes the game listless – and surely adding a few more women to both major parties’ ranks would help. Otherwise we’ll just have to satisfy ourselves with the blood sport of watching the Act party implode but there’s such a lack of suspense when they just keep stabbing each other in the front. Nope.

We need some genuine rough and tumble in the political ring of the North and perhaps it might take some women to do the job. Take a look around. Every second one of us is one; surely we deserve some kind of a voice? Georgina Abernathy, one of the original Kiwi suffragettes said; “It’s for the good of the family, and the young around us that we are requesting justice at the hands of the State.” That still seems like a good rallying cry over 100 years later. Politically, if Northland were a musical it would be Annie – singing ‘Tomorrow’. Yup. Things do eventually change; you’ve just got to keep hoping.

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