Peter Smith

The forgiving 23 percenters

The most recent Newspoll published in The Australian provided more ammunition for those who believe Julia Gillard’s position as Prime Minister is untenable.

Phillip Adams writing in the same newspaper was adamant that her time was up. “Julia must go” was the front page by-line. This was all understandable. She has been woefully inept not to mention duplicitous and is leading an incompetent government through disaster after disaster, with no doubt more to come. Labor’s primary vote was down to 27 per cent. In view of the record, why is it not even lower? Well the answer is that both main political parties have rusted-on voters who will stick with them to the bitter end. It is a tribal thing and explicable.

It was the 23 per cent of those polled who are “satisfied” with Julia Gillard’s performance that struck me. Remember that a little over 13 million people voted at the last federal election. This means, if Newspoll is any kind of reliable guide, that there are around 3 million adult Australians who are satisfied with Ms Gillard’s performance. What on earth would she have to do to make them “dissatisfied” or at least move into the “uncommitted” column? The mind boggles at what she might have to get up to in order to earn their reproof. I find it too disturbing to contemplate.

More information is needed on who these satisfied people are so that advantage can be taken. Maybe they are the kind of people who don’t excuse themselves when they’re sitting on the inside of a bus or train seat and wish to alight. I am finding that this happens more often. Presumably these people would find it acceptable, and not the least bit rude, if they were sitting on the outside seat and the person on the inside brushed pass them without ado. If we knew who these people were we could act reprehensively in their company without causing the least offence. Perhaps the pollsters could ask some basic personality questions as part of their surveys and then stratify the results accordingly. That might show a correlation. We might be able to spot them.

Imagine if you knew that your boss was one of those people. You could arrive late every morning; do as you please at work, take long lunches, and still get a satisfactory rating and pay increase. If your teacher was one of those people you could chew gum in class, horse around, cheat in exams, and still get good grades. If your spouse was one of those people you could have affairs, be untidy, refuse to do the dishes or make the bed, and still enjoy conjugal comforts.

I assume that the 23 percenters also form part of the 27 per cent who would give their first preference to Labor. This leaves a relatively small group of 4 per cent or around half a million people who would vote Labor but are dissatisfied with Ms Gillard’s performance. This means that only about 15 per cent of rusted-on Labor voters use a normal yardstick to judge performance. The rest are apologists for stuff-up merchants. When you think about it, they are the kind of people whose company we should all cherish. We all make the odd mistake and it is nice at those times to have forgiving people around; people who will make excuses for us; see the best side of us.

All of a sudden I have a fondness for those rusted-on Labor voters, except of course for that miserable judgemental 15 per cent. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually opted for the Greens who, unless you happen to be a socialist solar-dependent Palestinian bicycle rider, are terribly judgemental of everybody for mucking up the environment.

Leave a Reply