08 May 2010

A very un-British election day and night

Before we move forward to what happens next, the various failings of our traditional way of doing things on election day, and what followed when the clock passed ten, need to be dealt with.

No doubt there will be a little inquiry and a few strong words for the returning officers responsible for the not-so-small cock-up that took place at various polling stations.  It really was a disgrace that the simple job of allowing voters to exercise the democratic right failed so spectacularly, especially when the turnout was only 65.1%.  In the time he had to fill before the results started tumbling in, David Dimbleby, rightly, made much of this national embarrassment, which should not be forgotten as the drama of the next few days unfolds.

Now to the BBC election night programme itself.  Over the years this has set the standard that the others follow, but it hit a very low common denominator on Thursday night.  Just who was responsible for hiring that boat and inviting celebrities to give their not-wanted opinions on what was going on?  Helicopters following cars travelling along empty roads in the middle of the night are not required.

The exit poll proved to be accurate prediction, but the BBC failed in many ways to provide a serious analysis of results.  Although Peter Kellner was on hand to assist Emily Maitlis operate her flat screen TV, the programme was left in a vacuum without a psephologist sitting alongside David Dimbleby as the declarations came in.  Dimbleby did, eventually, stamp his authority on the programme, but it was a poor imitation of what has gone before.

Thankfully, David Butler, one of the architects of the once successful BBC format, made a welcome appearance on programme, but it wasn't the world he had created.  He did, however, make one of the more astute observations of the results:
I think the 1974 analogy is a very strong one and I think if Cameron does carry the next government, a minority government, he has a very good chance of winning a clear majority in a quick election afterwards.
The BBC has a huge a gap to fill when the 71-year-old David Dimbleby decides to call it a day.


  1. Good blog this - I'd go along with most of it - I suspect the Government when it is eventually formed will have a hell of a time though - and the next election is going to be one which defines the political landscape for many years

  2. Thank you. I agree with your comment on the next government.