Is pregnant PM a world first?

January 19, 2018

Is this another world first for New Zealand?:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, have today announced that they are expecting their first child in June.

“We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting.

“Yesterday I met with Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to share the news and to ask him to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for a period of 6 weeks after our baby is born.

“As is the case when I am overseas, Mr Peters will act as Prime Minister, working with my office while staying in touch with me. I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six week period when needed.

“Mr Peters and I have a great relationship, and I know that together we’ll make this period work. I will make arrangements for appropriate Ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament.

“At the end of my leave I will resume all Prime Ministerial duties.

“Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky. . . 

Several women have become mothers while they’re MPs but this is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to be pregnant in office.

Jenny Shipley’s children were in their teens when she became PM and Helen Clark didn’t have children.

Someone with a better knowledge of New Zealand political history than mine might correct me, but I can’t name a New Zealand Prime Minister who became a father while in office. *

My knowledge of international political history is even more scanty. I can name several women Prime Ministers with children but none who gave birth while holding the office.

My generation was probably the last to be brought up thinking we’d marry and have babies, in that order, and that at least while the children were young would put mothering before paid work.

Younger women have been brought up being told girls can do anything which is often interpreted to mean not just everything but everything at once.

That is of course impossible. But younger men have also been brought up with the expectation they will play a much more active role in parenting than the men of earlier generations did.

Providing the pregnancy, birth and childhood go smoothly, it is possible for a woman to grow and deliver a baby, take some leave, then return to work and for the baby’s father to take on the role of stay-at-home parent.

As Liam Hehir says the country should keep running while she’s on leave.

. . . This is good news. Children are a blessing. But apart from happiness for Ardern and her partner, there is another reason to be glad. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to demonstrate its bona fides as a mature and stable liberal democracy.

The good governance of this country should not depend on the constant availability of any one person. If a system breaks down over the temporary absence of a single individual, then that system is not fit for purpose. The prime ministership is not, and should never be, be a single point of failure for the country as a whole. . . 

Mark Richardson was roundly criticised for asking Ardern about her plans to have a family.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. The couple’s family plans are their own business but a question on the impact that might have on the country is legitimate.

At the time I thought the critics were underestimating the demands of both roles – that of Prime Minister and parenting. But others can deputise for the PM.

Women have been raising families while their children’s fathers were in demanding jobs for aeons. That is still more common but men are increasingly taking on parenting to enable their children’s mothers to pursue their careers.

Before he was an MP, Bill English was a stay at home parent while his wife Mary worked as a GP.

New Zealand’s systems should be robust enough to ensure there is no cause for concern about the running of the country while motherhood takes priority for Ardern and the running of their home and family is not our business.

I wish them well and I hope that everything goes as planned.

Whether or not it does, I hope that the baby will come before the country.

There are plenty of other people who are able to put New Zealand first. All babies deserve parents who will put them first.

* Update: The Herald says: Benazir Bhutto, then President of Pakistan,  gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January, 25 1990,  while in office.

 

 

 

 


Spot the trend

December 15, 2013

Two observations on Facebook:

Obscure political fact. No leader of the Opposition first elected to Parliament before the incumbent Prime Minister has ever beaten the elected incumbent Prime Minister in an election. Only one Leader of the Opposition elected prior to the incumbent PM has beaten that PM, and that was Helen Clark (first elected 1981) who beat Jenny Shipley (elected 1987), and Shipley never won an election as leader. The electorate doesn’t vote tired faces into the premiership.

David Cunliffe was first elected in 1999. John Key was first elected in 2002. Cunliffe is no Helen Clark, and he won’t be Prime Minister at the end of next year.

And:

Since 1949, no government in NZ has lost office campaigning for a third term except a Labour one in 1990. ‪#‎Anyoneseeingatrendhere‬?

I do see the trend here and I like it.

However, there is absolutely no room for complacency.

All signs are pointing to a very close result in next year’s election.


Number four

August 24, 2013

Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when Helen Clark became leader of the Labour Party, and the first woman to lead the Opposition.

She almost won the 1996 election but it was run under MMP and Winston Peters allowed Bolger to remain in power.

Jenny Shipley deposed Bolger and became our first female Prime Minister but Clark won the next election.

Shipley lost the leadership to Bill English but he lost the next election.

He usually gets the blame for that but it wasn’t all bad. It did get rid of much of the dead wood – those long serving MPs who ought to have resigned to let fresh blood contest the election but didn’t. He should also get credit for the rule changes which under his leadership, with the help of then president Judy Kirk and general manager Steven Joyce, made National a much stronger party and laid the foundation for its eventual return to power.

Don Brash ousted Bill, boosted membership and funds, and nearly won the 2005 election.

When Brash resigned, John Key won without a fight, and with a unified caucus helped in no small part by his deputy, English, who was, and is, 100% loyal to the leader and party. Key also had, and has maintained, strong, unified membership and good finances.

When Key won the 2008 election, Clark resigned and handed a poisoned chalice to Phil Goff. He, and the caucus, didn’t learn from what happened with National, kept most of the dead wood and lost the 2011 election.

Goff resigned and David Shearer took over, still saddled with the dead wood, disunity in the caucus, the shadowy influence of Clark and dissent in the wider party.

Labour’s about to elect the fourth leader to face the Prime Minister but changing the leader won’t be enough.

The caucus is still full of dead wood and further damaged by disunity.

Membership is low, it’s not united either and party finances are far from healthy. Clark’s shadow still looms large and there’s also the spectre of the unions which most on the right and many in the centre distrust.

Helen Clark defeated outlasted four National leaders and lost to the fifth who had a strong, unified caucus, a strong, unified party and little competition in Opposition from the wee parties.

Labour is about to elect the fourth leader to face Key but he will be fighting fires on several fronts.

He’ll have to unite his caucus and his party and also stand head and shoulders above Russel Norman and Winston Peters who’ve been doing a much better job of leading the Opposition than then man he’ll succeed.

Number four might be able to do what the three before him haven’t, but winning the leadership will be the first and easy step in a steep and challenging climb.


December 8 in history

December 8, 2010

65 BC Horace, Roman poet, was born (d. 8 BC).

 

1432 – The first battle between the forces of Švitrigaila and Sigismund Kęstutaitis was fought near the town of Oszmiana (Ashmyany), launching the most active phase of the civil war in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

 

1542  Mary Queen of Scots, was born (d. 1587).

1609  The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan opened its reading room, the second public library in Europe.

1660 Margaret Hughes became the first actress to appear on an English public stage, playing the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.

 

 
1765 – Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin, was born  (d. 1825).
 
1854 –  In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
Virgin Mary - Diego Velazquez.jpg

1864 The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon was officially opened.

1865 Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer, was born (d. 1957).

1886 Diego Rivera, Mexican painter, was born (d. 1957).

1894  E.C. Segar, American cartoonist (Popeye), was born  (d. 1938).

1894 James Thurber, American humorist and cartoonist, was born  (d. 1961).

1904 Konservativ Ungdom (Young Conservatives)  was founded by Carl F. Herman von Rosen. It is the oldest political youth organization in Denmark and believed to be one of the oldest in the world.

Logo

1925  Sammy Davis Jr., American actor and singer, was born (d. 1990).

 

1933  Flip Wilson, American comedian, was born (d. 1998).

1939 Sir James Galway, Northern Irish flautist, was born.

1941 New Zealand declared war on Japan.

New Zealand declares war on Japan
1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7 to be “a day which will live in infamy“, after which the U.S. and the Republic of China declared war against Japan.
 

1942 A fire at Seacliff Hospital killed 37 people.

Fire at Seacliff Mental Hospital kills 37

1951 – Bill Bryson, American author, was born.

1953 Kim Basinger, American actress, was born.

1953 – United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace speech, and the U.S. launched its “Atoms for Peace” programme that supplied equipment and information to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world.

 

1963 – Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, was struck by positive lightning and crashed near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 81 people on board.

1966 Sinéad O’Connor, Irish musician, was born.

1966 –  The Greek ship SS Heraklion sank in a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200.

 

1972 – United Airlines Flight 553 crashed after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 45.

1974 A plebiscite resulted in the abolition of monarchy in Greece.

1980 John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York.

A bearded, bespectacled man in his late twenties, with long black hair and wearing a loose-fitting white shirt, sings and plays an acoustic guitar. White flowers are visible behind and to the right of him.

1987 – Croat Frank Vitkovic shotsand killed eight people at the offices of the Australia Post in Melbourne, before being killed himself.

1987 – The Alianza Lima air disaster –  a Peruvian Navy Fokker F27-400M chartered by Peruvian football club Alianza Lima plunged into the Pacific Ocean six miles short of its destination, killing 43 of the 44 people on board.

1991 The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.

1993 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton.

1997  Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister.

Jenny Shipley

199 – The Australian Cricket Board’s cover-up of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh’s involvement with bookmakers was revealed.

2004 The Cuzco Declaration  was signed in Cuzco, Peru, establishing the South American Community of Nations.

2005 – Ante Gotovina, a Croatian army general accused of war crimes, was captured in the Playa de las Américas, Tenerife by the Spanish police.

 

2008  Kirsty Williams was elected as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The first female leader of a political party in Wales.

2009 Bombings in Baghdad, killed 127 and injured 448.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


The independents are going with:

September 7, 2010

Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter announced he was supporting the Liberal-led coalition  earlier today making it 74-all for the two main parties.

Jack the Insider, live blogger for the Australian, says Tony Windsor has given his support to Labor.

That makes it 75-74 to Labor.

Windsor is taking questions then the other independent, Rob Oakeshott will make his announcement soon.

UPDATE :

From Jack’s live blog:

3:17
RO says neither party has a mandate
3:18
Oakeshott talking about the new parliament and how it will function but still no decision
3:20
Oakeshott – a hard decision , line ball judgment decision. “Could not get any closer”.
3:20
Oakeshott hinting he will support Labor
3:21
On now and still not confirming which way he will go.
3:23
RO certainly likes to create suspense
3:26
I’m going to call this. Oakeshott supports Labor
3:31
Labor. RO supports Labor on rural education.
3:31
Both Windsor and Oakeshott will support the government

Tuesday September 7, 2010 3:31 
3:31
Gillard can now form minority government
3:32
LABOR WINS
3:35
Labor wins. 76 – 74

The ABC reports:

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia’s political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.

Mr Oakeshott’s and Mr Windsor’s decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.

Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.

It is a fragile majority and it will take a lot of skill to hold it together for the parliamentary term.

 When Jenny Shipley was leading a minority government here she said she used to wake up each day and do the numbers, and she knew she couldn’t always rely on her own team. Julia Gillard will be in a very similar position.


Mothers shape men

August 29, 2010

Women of our generation have a responsibility to ensure our sons are brought up differently from their fathers because when they grow up the women of their generation will expect more from them.

This was one of the messages from Jenny Shipley, then a new back bench opposition MP, to a Women In Agriculture day in North Otago.

She was talking to a group of educated country women about ensuring their sons mastered domestic skills, respected women and accepted their right to equality.

Her underlying message, that mothers shape men, has been repeated in a very different context by Celia Lashlie:

. . .  It was as I watched her weep and felt her genuine sorrow and grief that I realised, not for the first time, that in some way I had yet to fully understand the mothers of our at-risk children are part of the answer.”  

Lashlie is sometimes angry and often cynical in The Power of Mothers: Releasing Our Children. . .

It is the third book by the former prison manager who is now a social commentator and agitator.

It is also her last, she says, because now she just wants to get on with the practicalities of finding ways to effectively help disempowered women – and if you do that, you’ll cut down prison rates for men, she says.

. . . One of Lashlie’s key messages, however, is for the women’s prison service.

As of March this year, 496 women were in prison, compared to 8000 or so men. We should lead the world in how we manage these women, she says, “because it is, by and large, the women in prison who are raising the criminals of the next generation”.

I was brought up knowing my father loved and respected my mother; my brothers and I were taught the same values. We all knew that violence and abuse were neither acceptable nor normal and that shaped our expectations of behaviour in our own lives and relationships.

The experiences of most of the women Lashlie works with is very different from that. Violence and abuse are normal for them.

Until and unless they learn it is not, they can not teach their sons to be the loving, caring, responsible people.

Until and unless they learn that they and the people around them have the right to be safe in their homes and communities they can not teach their sons the values which will keep them from violence and crime.

Mothers shape men but shaping good men doesn’t come naturally to those who haven’t experienced loving, caring homes and relationships  themselves. 

They need the knowledge, skills and values to shape themselves and their children into loving, caring, law abiding citizens. Prisons where women are a captive audience and away from the malign influences which are normal to them is a good place to start.

Hat Tip: Beatties Book Blog.


Is politics and parenting an impossible dream?

June 25, 2010

Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard said * she made a choice to go into politics rather than be a parent. 

She was once reported as saying a mother would never be Prime Minister but she says she was misquoted

“It is not what I said, not what I meant and not what I believe,” Gillard responds fervently, adding: “I look forward to a time when a mother is Prime Minister in this country.” 

For some time, when speaking publicly about the pressures in women’s lives, Gillard has rhetorically asked the question, “Could John Howard or Peter Costello have had quite the same careers if they were women?” The question is intended to be a humorous way of getting her audience thinking. 

The point she is making, she explains, is that it is easy for some men to look at women’s choices and offer a critical view without thinking for themselves what they would have done if faced with exactly the same choices. 

“I was trying to say we need to be talking about the pressures for women,” she continues. “Not just for politicians, but for women right across the nation who live the juggle of trying to put work and family together.” 

Gillard describes the stress she sees in the life of her friend Kirsten Livermore, the Federal Member for Capricornia. Livermore is the mother of two young children and her huge electorate is based in Rockhampton in North Queensland. She regularly brings her children to Canberra, but even with her husband’s support, Gillard says, “It’s unbelievably tough to work in a highly pressurised workplace and deal with family issues at the same time.” 

It appears to be even tougher for some people than others and more of those people happen to be women. 

Does that mean politics and parenting are mutually exclusive, or at least a lot harder  for women? 

Many men manage to combine the two roles but a lot fewer women do. 

That may be because fewer women who want to be mothers also want to enter politics; or that more women who enter politics don’t want to be mothers. 

But I suspect it is also because, in spite of the gains made in gender equality, women still find it harder than men to manage demanding careers and parenthood, and politics is a particularly demanding career. 

Jenny Shipley combined motherhood and politics, but her children were at secondary school by the time she reached cabinet and young adults when she was Prime Minister. 

Helen Clark chose not to have a family. 

Ruth Richardson had a young family but in her autobiography wrote of how difficult it was to juggle pregnancy, babies and politics. 

Katherine Rich often spoke of how family-unfriendly parliament and politics were and she decided to retire at the end of the last parliamentary term because she wanted to spend more time with her family

Lots of sitting MPs, here and in other countries, are parents; some of them are women. But fewer women than men reach the upper rungs of the political ladder. 

There will be lots of reasons for that, among which is that some – like some men –  may not have the desire or ability. 

But some don’t aim for the top because they put their families first, some do by choosing not to have children, few manage both parenting and the political heights. 

The Australian says Julia Gillard’s ascension fulfils feminist dream

But at least for now it appears that the feminist dream requires women to choose between politics and parenting and that  combining politics and parenting is still an impossible dream for most women. 

* Sky TV last night, not online.


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