Monday, 15 February 2010

A further BBC complaints response

As I wasn't happy with the BBC's last response to my QT complaint, I complained further and have
eventually got this back:


Thanks for your further e-mail regarding the 26 November edition of
'Question Time'. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We
know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we're sorry that
you've had to wait on this occasion.

We note that you were unhappy with the response that you received to your
complaint of 27 November, in which you expressed concern that Liberal
Democrat MP Jo Swinson had been dropped from the panel.

Your return complaint was forwarded to 'Question Time' Executive Editor,
Gavin Allen, who explained in response that the Liberal Democrats, like all
parties, get representation based on their level of electoral support. This
means they are on most - but not all - 'Question Time' panels across each
series. He added:

"We believe it adds to the breadth of debate to have perspectives from
politicians and non-politicians alike, so places are always limited even
within a 5-person panel."

In relation to your complaint that the programme did not include a Liberal
Democrat representative on the programme when the Iraq war was being
debated, Gavin Allen also explained that:

"It's also important to note that whilst the Liberal Democrats anti-war
policy was distinctive it was not unique. Respect, among others, were also
opposed to the war. As has been shown across a number of Question Times
this series, the Iraq inquiry will be debated many times. The Liberal
Democrat's view will be clearly and regularly highlighted, but it's
reasonable that others should also be given the opportunity to debate."

However, if you believe a serious and specific breach of the BBC's
Editorial Guidelines has occurred here, and you wish to pursue this
complaint further, you can contact the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit,
within 20 working days, and they will carry out an independent

You can write to them at the following address:

Editorial Complaints Unit
Room 5170
White City
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TS

Alternatively you can e-mail the Unit at the address:, but
please note that complaints submitted via e-mail must include a postal
address as ECU findings are sent by letter.

We'd also like to assure you, Mr LibCync, that we've registered your
additional complaint on our audience log.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.


Regular readers will notice that:

"It's also important to note that whilst the Liberal Democrats anti-war
policy was distinctive it was not unique"

flat out contradicts the previous explanation of:

"in order to facilitate debate by having representatives
willing to question the central political consensus on these issues, of
which the Liberal Democrats are a part"

So I shall be taking this further.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

AV is a no-brainer

I expected to see the LibDem blogosphere erupt in a fit of hand-wringing over different voting systems in response to the news that Goron Brown was now (after 13 years of dither) proposing a referendum on changing the voting system. I was pleasantly surprised to see this wasn't the case so much. Maybe it's because we've already been through a recent bout of this last year. Not wishing to repeat what I said then (although I will), I just wanted to say that I can't believe anyone can seriously suggest that we shouldn't support this.

If we are going to have a referendum, there is absolutely no way we would win with AV+ or STV as, as I've said previously, anything that is complicated to explain will be seen as a stitch up by the public. AV I can explain (and sell) to people, just about! (it's like the X factor would be if they didn't want as much of your money as possible)

Yes, we all know that STV is the best system in every way but AV does solve quite a few of the current problems.

1) It eliminates wasted votes for losing opponents
2) It requires a candidate to get "majority" support
3) It allows smaller parties/independents half a chance as a vote for them is no longer wasted (okay, same as point 1)
4) It removes tactical considerations (okay same as point 3!)

Yes it doesn't:

1) Make for a more proportional system
2) Reduce the powers of the parties in candidate selection
3) Allow you more chance of being represented by someone with similar views
4) Eliminate wasted over-votes for winning candidates

as STV would.

I would argue, however, that AV is still a major step forward in accountability and respecting the voters' wishes.

My 2-point plan for getting the perfect voting system in the UK would be:
a) Win a referendum on AV
b) A subsequent LibDem government brings in STV

Pulling back to now just for a second though, would even enough Labour MPs vote for it for it to get through (with our support)?