Using the right words is Essential


You’d think a bloke who runs opinion polls would know the exact meaning – and the power they can punch – of words that frame the questions asked, right?

Any respected pollster has a professional duty to get them right so that responses aren’t swayed inadvertently and the result tainted beyond the usual margin of error.

So should we give Peter Lewis, head of Essential Media, the benefit of the doubt over his description used in defence of his own words in this week’s Essential report in The Guardian Australia edition?

He copped a fair bit of social media criticism – a bit of a pollaxing, so to speak – over what he had to say. So much so that he tweeted: “Amazing how saying something mildly positive about the PM unleashes the bile.”

Mildly positive, Peter?

So how’s this for “mildly positive”?

Scott Morrison’s extreme makeover continues to turn heads….

The metamorphosis is complete as Morrison strikes a compelling pose of a unifying and inclusive figure…

Morrison has transformed himself…

The secret to Morrison’s success is that he’s had the courage to discard his whole wardrobe and start from scratch…

Much of the online criticism was probably sparked by the heading used for the paper’s coverage of the poll on Tuesday and to be fair to Peter Lewis, those words – Voters are falling in love with a transformed Scott Morrison – are not part of his comments.

But that overall image clearly attributes those words to him and it has not been taken down over the past 48 hours, so Lewis is presumably happy with it.

As, supposedly, were the likes of Kathryn Murphy and Lenore Taylor when they finally came to after reading it.

Lewis, of course, is entitled to his opinion just as I am permitted mine: Lewis is just the latest in a disappointing large number of “experts” who are totally misreading the current surge in the PM’s popularity as he throws $260 billion at Australians and who has dominated the media on almost a daily basis for many weeks now.

This ranter will stick with my view that Morrison is probably the most divisive leader this nation has ever had, and the generalisation – Lewis’s generalisation – that Australians are falling in love with him will anger a large section of the community.

And Lewis’s claims that somehow Morrison has recast and reframed himself through the COVID-19 crisis are total and utter nonsense from someone who might claim to be a centrist or even left leaning.

There are times – many times – that I wonder whether the Lewises and the mainstream media politics “experts” of this nation are watching the same shit I’m taking in. Some sort of Sliding Doors thing going on.

I’ve seen nothing in Morrison’s approach during the COVID-19 response that even remotely suggests he’s changed his spots. He had to be dragged by state leaders to do the right things; he waffles on like a tent preacher; he remains totally committed to trickle-down economics; his post coronavirus solutions are continued wage suppression, tax breaks for business, the reduction of red and green tape, etc, etc, that make his much vaunted olive branch to unions a total furphy.

And as for being loved by Australians? Maybe it’s my circle of friends – bless them all – and the people I have attracted – and been attracted to – on social media, but I know of no-one who loves Scott Morrison.

I am aware that a very large number of Aussies have an almost visceral dislike – mine is a very unhealthy but still satisfying hatred that practically quivers – of the man.

Lewis, et al, seem totally unable or incapable of seeing the post-COVID day of reckoning that awaits Morrison and other mendacious members of his miserably average ministry.

When Australia returns to politics as usual – and pork-barrelling rorts on a scale never imagined, mismanaged economies and various redhot ministerial lies are addressed as they urgently need to be – we’ll see just how much love is out there for the PM.