Sunday, November 04, 2012

If you aren't changing minds, you are wasting your time


I remember having a race between two wooden blocks I called "Labor" and "Liberal", on the carpet in Ibey's hallway. I think that was in 1975 when there a lot of talk about the dismissal of the Whitlam government. So, I think i can say I have been following Australian politics for 37 years.

I have never known a time when the vast bulk of what is said (and there has never been so much being said) is aimed squarely at the already converted.

If you think Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones is a disgrace, as I do, then it's pretty comfortable to listen to other people also saying "the man is a disgrace". [For overseas readers, he is on record saying our Prime Minister should be "sewn up in a chaff bag and thrown in the ocean". Then last week a recording emerged of him at a fundraising dinner saying that her recently deceased father "died of shame" over her policies and conduct as PM]. Looks pretty damning. And my preferred sources of news (The Age and the ABC) have been predictably and rightly scathing.

But if you had a quality national half hour current affairs show, would you bother bringing on a high profile sworn enemy of the bloke, in John Laws, to reiterate that yes, he's still not a fan? I can't see what that achieves. Local radio actually did a better job, getting a well-known Alan supporter in Senator Eric Abetz to try to defend the indefensible. He found a tweet that a union official retweeted, that essentially said 'Cool it - Jones is old - he'll die soon'. Abetz claimed that that was basicallly equivalent. Abetz sounds like a robot, but he had the grace to sound (robotically) embarrassed by own his pissweak argument.

In a wierdly recursive way, Jones' power lies in the perception among politicians that he is powerful. He has a deep hook into a particular segment of the electorate - older males. But they only have one vote each - I have never understood why this particular niche is the holy grail. The perception peddled by Alan and his employers is that he is a kingmaker and also a wise elder of the tribe. Listen to his wisdom gained from his close affinity with the regular Aussies on Struggle Street, otherwise you will lose touch with them, to your detriment. Offend him and you may as well have offfended the gods themselves, for the amount of plagues, smitings and flag-cape-wearing pitchfork mobs he calls down on your head.

But who are ‘Alan's people’? I would love someone to sit down with a representative group of his listeners, and go through the established facts of who Alan is, what he has done and said in the past, and the contradictions therein. And try to change their minds about him.

There is a subject on the national curriculum called Persuasive Writing. It seems to be a dying art, so I am glad they are trying to address that.

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