Saturday, 9 May 2015

Some questions about the election results and the BBC


Looking closely at the election results, there are certain things the BBC doesn't seem to be paying very much attention to in its post-election coverage (of which I've watched quite a lot in the past couple of days, and rather enjoyed). 

Firstly, if you add up all the votes received for every UK political party that achieved 0.1% of the vote or more on Thursday (excluding all the insignificant others), you will find that parties traditionally described as "right-wing" won 51% of the votes, whilst parties traditionally described as "left-wing" won 41% of the vote and parties traditionally described as "centrist" won 8% of the vote. (If you reassign those "centrists" to the "left", then the total becomes 51% for the Right, 49% for the Left.) Of course, there may be caveats which complicate the matter, but still: The Right has (statistically-speaking) become the majority opinion in the UK. Will that be reflected by the BBC?

Secondly, George Galloway got trounced in Bradford West. His Respect Party fared just as disastrously. It managed less than 0.1% of the vote across the country, winning considerably fewer votes than either TUSC or Traditional Unionist Voice. It is now an 'insignificant other'. So we don't really need to hear from Respect Party spokespeople very often on the BBC from now on, do we?

Thirdly, although the Liberal Democrats won 8 seats and UKIP and the Greens won just one each, UKIP got a lot more of the public vote. It gained 4.7% more of the vote than the Lib Dems and 8.8% more than the Greens. Indeed, if this election had been a three-way fight between just the Greens, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats the results would be: 

UKIP - 52.1%
Lib Dem - 32.4%
Green - 15.5%

How will the BBC's coverage of these three parties change over the course of this parliament as a result? Presumably those people who complain about the number of times UKIP appear on the BBC's Question Time will have to get used to representatives from the party with the third largest vote share in the UK appearing even more often? And surely the BBC will have to drastically reduce the amount of airtime they give to Liberal Democrats? 

Fourthly, listening to Radio 4 last night and this morning and regularly scanning the BBC News website the BBC is paying little attention to the local election results in non-metropolitan England. What's happening in the English council elections is a fascinating counterpoint to general election. Though not all the results are finally in it's turning into 'a rout from the right', with the Conservatives taking well over 400 seats and UKIP over 100. Yes, the Lib Dems are losing nearly 300 seats, but - very strikingly - Labour are losing over 150 seats at the moment, so it's by no means merely a story about the collapse of the Lib Dems. Why aren't the BBC making more of this strong anti-Labour trend in the English council elections?

Fifthly, the BBC popped up a tweet yesterday (without comment) from Plaid's Leanne Wood saying that the Tories "have no mandate to rule in Wales". Well, they have more mandate to rule there than Plaid. The Conservatives won three extra seats in Wales; Plaid won no extra seats. And given that Wales is supposed to be a Labour heartland, the Conservatives received were less than 10% behind Labour in the Welsh public vote (36.9% to 27.2%). And, Leanne, Plaid didn't even come third; UKIP are now the third party in Wales, beating Plaid by 1.5% and the Lib Dems by 7.1%. Even in 'socialist Wales', over 40% of people voted for right-of-centre parties. Will this 'rise of the Right' in Wales be marked by any shift in the BBC's Welsh political coverage? Will Plaid appear less often relative to UKIP from now on? And UKIP more often relative to the Lib Dems? Or will the BBC mainly stick to a 'number of seats' policy?

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