I had an interesting phone call from an old friend this week. He isn't really very interested in politics but he is university educated and follows the news. He has been following my blog and he suggested something that would really help educate people like him about electoral reform.
Sunday, 21 June 2009
He asked why there hasn’t been something like a half hour or hour long programme on the BBC or Channel 4 in prime time (e.g. Panaroma or Dispatches) which examines in detail the different possible electoral systems. He said that he listens to Radio 4 every day for an hour and a half and watches lots of documentaries (i.e. he is engaged with the news agenda) but he does not understand about the different systems available for electoral systems as they have never been properly covered. He strongly feels that given how high up the political agenda this issue now is that it at least warrants a proper analysis so the public can be better educated.
I very much agree with him and have been disappointed to see and hear whenever the subject is brought up on Newsnight or Today for example that the presenter is very quick to step in as soon as anybody even tries to explain how the systems work. It seems to be deemed too esoteric or not engaging enough. But we are talking about the systems that we may be asked to choose to select our leaders for many decades to come. Surely the public should have easy access to the information necessary to help them decide which system would be best?
God knows there is enough rubbish on in prime-time about how to look good naked, or celebrity cooking programmes. Surely there is room somewhere for a programme like this that would properly educate about the different systems?
I am sure in the past this could have been easily dismissed by TV executives but all 3 of the main party leaders have talked at length about this issue recently. The Prime Minister has called for a national debate. How can that debate be had properly if most people do not understand what the politicians are talking about?
We need a programme like this in the next few weeks or months to ensure that the debate is properly informed.