Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Channel 4 poll and electoral reform

Following Channel 4's poll of the 60 marginal seats that David Cameron needs to win to form the next government (see here for more details) I have e-mailed Gary Gibbon, Channel 4's political editors to point out how their poll underscores the unfairness of the existing electoral system and have requested they focus more on this in future. Here is what I sent:

Dear Gary,

I noted with interest your voting intentions poll last night where you explained that you were concentrating the poll where it “really matters” and went on to explain that it is the seats where David Cameron will be targeting most of his efforts as they are the marginals that will make the difference between him forming a majority government and not.

I have to say that I find this state of affairs deeply undemocratic. Why is it that the views of a voter in Amber Valley or Reading West is considered to be much more important than the views of say myself living in the fairly safe Conservative seat of Bracknell? I fear that what will now start to happen in the run up to the inevitable election next year is that these and other marginal constituencies will be heavily targeted by the main parties and the policies and manifestos will be tailored to suit the floating voters within these constituencies. This subset of a subset of voters will likely only number of few tens of thousands and therefore the vast majority of the British electorate will again be disenfranchised.

I have always enjoyed Channel 4 news and I feel that your coverage of issues is generally excellent but I very strongly feel that when you cover things like the polling in marginal constituencies, you owe a duty to your viewers to explain the consequences of this sort of focusing, why it happens and how it means that only a very small proportion of the electorate have real influence at election time.

I would also like to see more coverage of the potential alternatives to the current First Past the Post system such as Single Transferable Vote in Multi Member Constituencies as advocated by the Electoral Reform Society which could make things much more proportional whilst maintaining a constituency link (see for more details).

I understand that covering these issues requires a certain degree of engagement by the audience but I am fairly sure that the majority of your sophisticated audience would be able to grasp the necessary concepts and it could help kick-start a wider debate about the unfairness of the existing system.

Best regards,

Mark Thompson.

If you want to e-mail them too you can do so through or

UPDATE: Gary Gibbon has responded. Details here.

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