The law of the imagined middle
I guess this is just the good old pundit's fallacy rearing its head again, but why does Tom Switzer think that "middle Australia" is as dyed-in-the-wool conservative as he is? The context is a strange and apparently unprompted attack on Malcolm Turnbull.
The gist of the article is this: everyone's always going on about how Turnbull should lead the Liberal Party - but hold up there! It's not dissimilar, in concept, to the excoriations of Kevin Rudd which came out around the February leadership challenge. This kind of thing can be quite valuable: it's important, in understanding a government, to know why it made personnel changes and what internal problems it has had; deciding who is the best person to lead a parliamentary government is something that is much better handled when we know how they do at the tasks of parliamentary government as well as the tasks of public leadership.
This article, though, goes astray because it doesn't tell us why Turnbull did or would do bad things as leader, nor why we should dislike him, but merely that people do. This would be unhelpful even if it was true, and it's a long way from true.
The reason it's unhelpful is this: if it's true that people don't like Malcolm Turnbull, they don't need to be told that they don't like him. If the point is simply to reinforce people's existing dislike, that would probably be better achieved by an objective attack on things he did/does than a straightforward reminder of their own feelings.
In fairness, there are hints of that scattered around the article. But the article is titled "The middle says no", and for the most part it's this kind of thing:
We all too often forget history in the 24/7 internet and media environment. But an account of Turnbull's record as opposition leader three years ago helps explain why ordinary Australians shrug their shoulders with a profound lack of interest.Profound lack of interest has an all-new look. (Third sentence.) Turnbull's lead over Abbott is even more overwhelming than the oft-discussed lead Rudd has on Gillard. If that's a shrug then this morning's new round of ALP leadership speculation is enormously over-hyped.
Alternatively, the article's point might be to shock left-leaning readers of The Age with the revelation that their elitist opinions don't match the real world. Actually, that's a pretty good bet:
Such a strategy might resonate with global warmists who, in any case, won't vote for the party of Menzies. But it is self-evidently not in tune with middle Australia, where the centre of political gravity is decidedly to the right of your typical Q&A audience on a cold winter's night. To slam Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt might appeal to trendies in Glebe and Newtown, but it alienates your own people in the suburbs.Again, though, Switzer runs into the unfortunate obstacle of being straightforwardly contradicted by the facts. People love Malcom Turnbull, making that quote one of the more egregious abuses of the world "self-evidently" I've seen.
The whole article is driven by thinking along these lines. There is a leftist (global warmist!) elite which dominates The Age, the ABC and "swanky dinner parties", and they are not only poles apart from but totally unaware of the 'real' people and their opinions.