If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday 17 February 2011

BBC - never knowingly honest

The BBC's Newsnight did a poll on people's attitudes to reform of the voting system. The sample was only 1002 people, which out of an electorate of about 40m is hardly representative, but hey, we have a programme to put out and an agenda to push. Some extracts:
Sixty-five percent of people think the system of electing MPs needs a major overhaul, a BBC poll suggests.

But 63% of those polled said a referendum on changing the system is a waste of time and money when there are other pressing needs in the country.

Forty-one percent of those asked support the UK adopting the Alternative Vote in place of first-past-the-post.

But an equal number (41%) of people said they oppose the move to AV.
If you put that in nice, easy round figures (suitable for a post-Labour workforce), the gist is as follows:
  1. Most people think the referendum is a waste of time and money
  2. Nevertheless, most people think that the voting system needs an overhaul
  3. Just under half support the adoption of Alternative Voting
  4. The same number support retaining the FPTP system.
Now, as far as I can see, points 2, 3 and 4 are pretty much old news. We know the electoral system is flaky and outdated (although my suggestions for improvement are probably not the same as the modernisers') and that people are fairly evenly split between keeping FPTP and adopting something else. So far, so tedious.

The big item to me is the first. The previous government was desperate to alter the voting system so that it could build an unshakeable power base in second preferences across the country - or give that to the Lib Dems, as the less-unacceptable alternative to the eeeeevil Tories. It was part of their plan to build a 'progressive consensus' which would keep the Conservatives out of power in perpetuity. It made a lot of noise about 'responding to people's concerns' after the expenses scandal, and 'giving power back to the people', and this referendum is the result, bequeathed to the Coalition by a dying and desperate fag-end Labour administration. And the poll results suggest that people aren't in the slightest bit interested.

Massive Labour policy push; massive voter rejection. That's news, isn't it? So that was the headline, wasn't it?

Of course not. The BBC's headline summarising the above mish-mash of surprising and obvious:
Majority want overhaul of voting system, poll suggests
They pick the least interesting and downplay the rest. Anything else wouldn't fit the agenda, of course. It will be interesting to watch the BBC's coverage of the AV issue as the referendum approaches. Just don't expect impartiality. Like my impressive man credentials, it might be in their genes, but they hide it well.

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