Saturday, September 28, 2002

Margot Kingston has discovered public opinion. Or at least public opinion Lite. That’s the polling data you grab as it comes past when it backs your case. Then it’s the willathepeebul. If the polls don’t support your view, then it’s down to the ignorance of the electorate, and you sink the slipper into the Government for shameless populism, and berate their stubborn refusal to educate the ignorant masses to your viewpoint.

In Friday’s Granny, La Belle Margot gives her version of why we can’t go in to Iraq:
If Howard cannot turn public opinion around, he cannot send our troops to war. The legitimacy of Australians dying for us requires that the majority of us endorse the sacrifice in the national interest.

This piece has everything; Vietnam, “all the way with GWB”, sneers at “wedge politics”, swipes at immigration policy and appeals more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger:
a lack of majority support, would mean Australia had not taken a collective decision to spill the blood of young Australians in the national interest. The blood would be on Howard's hands.

The thought of Margot weeping over the blood of "our troops" at war on the side of the US is comical enough by itself, but there is more:
And some, convinced by Howard's demonisation of Muslim boat people and enamoured with Fortress Australia, ask why we should liberate "the ragheads".

Margot might like to enlighten us as to which polling organisation is using “ragheads” in their survey questioning; we can assume she got it from somwhere, as it’s not a term Margot comes into contact with often. I’m willing to believe she wouldn’t simply drop a sentence into a discussion on as important a subject as the “blood of young Australian” that didn’t have a solid grounding in fact.

And this is where her reliance on public opinion as a barometer of worthiness comes undone in her own columns. Because if polls are the way to go on Blood Questions, then we can rely on them for guidance on lesser issues.

Some of the other issue on which we can look forward to Margo reversing her stand:
· Asylum seeker protests: 75% disapproval;

· Mandatory detention of all asylum seekers: 56% approval;

· Military action against Iraq once the US makes a case; 54%

· John Howard as better Prime Minister: three to one in favour

· John Howard more trustworthy than his opponent;

We must have missed her column in October last year insisting that Prime Minister Howard turn back all asylum seeker boats. I can’t see how Kingston could write anything else, since such a policy, had it ever existed, would have carried a 56% popularity. If you’re reading Margot, pop the link in an email, hmm? While you’re at it, any chance of a look at your writings in 1992 when 75%
of Australians favoured the us of Australian forces against Iraq. Surely you would have been in the vanguard then? How about the non-UN approved incursion into Afghanistan (66% in favour)? One Nation thee times more entitled to win seats than the Greens?
Note: all unlinked poll data can be obtained here.

For Kingston, public opinion is an optional extra to be dropped or ignored when convenient. This column is a shameless appeal to emotion, prejudice and fear, with no policy alternative offered, little fact and less coherence.

Margot, for the record: Why is it right to go in with UN sanction, and wrong not to? Why does UN approval alter the reasons to go to war? Would you have said the same about East Timor? If not, why not?

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