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Beware the moral high ground

By Peter Wilson - posted Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Well-intentioned, well-organised, celebrity-endorsed, hashtagged, 'you know there is only one answer' campaigns are now commonplace. But how much does this do to activate those not that fussed to start with and in which way will it send them when they fill in their survey? Australians are a pretty obedient lot when it comes to democratic participation given our compulsory voting heritage and 81% say they will definitely or probably fill in the upcoming SSM survey.

As one of Harper's critics commented:

Forget yr position on equality, KatherineHarper's voting no to spite the pro camp for being too loud.


Well yes, she is. And that's the issue.

It's hard to quantify how many more Katherine Harpers there are. Probably not enough to see the No vote prevail, but people have thought things like that before.

As Hilary Clinton, The UK Remain crowd and others have discovered, once you assume the moral high ground on any debate it is best not be distracted by the beautiful fluttering flag you've just stuck into the summit and mock your rivals below. They may still be at base camp, but they have people around them, more oxygen to breathe and you'll eventually have to make the descent.

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About the Author

Pete Wilson is Principal of Pragmatic Research and Advisory Services. He has been studying the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of Australians for over 20 years. His work ranges from large-scale tracking studies and market segmentation to issues-based qualitative studies, stakeholder perceptions research and communications strategies.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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