BBC elites confounded by their listeners


The BBC recently gave its listeners a chance to express their will, but did not want to hear the result. The great unwashed mass, who pay the license fees which pay the Beeb's freight, were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books. Listeners to BBC 4's Today program (the very same show which claimed that intelligence on Iraqi WMDs had been 'sexed up'). Today, 26,000 votes later, the winning proposal was denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood—stained piece of legislation" — by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.

The Independent reports that Mr Pound's reaction was provoked by the news that the winner of Today's "Listeners' Law" poll was a plan to allow homeowners "to use any means to defend their home from intruders" — a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.

"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."

Having recovered his composure, Mr Pound told The Independent: "We are going to have to re—evaluate the listenership of Radio 4. I would have expected this result if there had been a poll in The Sun. Do we really want a law that says you can slaughter anyone who climbs in your window?"

The Sun is a Murdoch—owned tabloid noted for photos of bare—breasted women and nationalistic support of Britain—region>'s participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MP Pound's disdain for popular opinion is typical of not only British, but Western European elites, who consider themselves, and the nations whose public policies they control, to be vastly superior to the uncivilized Yanks, who carry guns and execute vicious criminals. Public opinion polls show that a majority of Britons favor capital punishment, but there is virtually no chance it will be re—introduced to Britain—region> anytime soon.

Segments of the British public have been outraged over the jailing of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who shot a burglar who had broken into his house. In all probability, this outraged fuelled the votes which selected resulted in victory for the self—defense (or 'vigilante') law which won the BBC poll.

MP Pound plans cursory introduction of the bill which he promised, but will only go through the motions. He called it  "the sort of idea somebody comes up with in a bar on a Saturday night between 'string 'em all up' and 'send 'em all all home'".

Posted by Thomas  01 01 04

Update: The Evening Standard has more on the story

Further update: Australian blogger Tim Lambert's Deltoid takes me to task on two grounds:

1) ...results of phone—in polls are meaningless since the sample is self—selected. It may be that popular opinion supports a law that allows home—owners to kill burglars even if it isn't in self—defence, but the poll does not tell us that. It just tells us that some people feel strongly enough to phone in (possibly multiple times).

My response: Tim, I think your complaint is with the BBC, not me. They are the party which decided to use a "meaningless" technique for polling their own listeners. My point is that they didn't like the result of their own poll, not that the poll was "scientific" to any degree.

2) Lifson omits some details about the Tony Martin case to make it seem outrageous. Martin shot an unarmed, fleeing, 16—year—old burglar in the back, while the burglar was begging for mercy, and left him to die. The jury decided that the shotting was not self—defence.

My response: My post was about the BBC's poll, and its (and the MP's)arrogant rejection of the results, when they were surprised and displeased by them. I didn't purport to explicate any details of the Tony Martin case, and only mentioned it to offer a hypothesis about the voting in the phone poll. The language used to describe the listeners' proposed legislation indicates that even the circumstances you describe would be off limits to criminal prosecution. So, I am not certain what your point is, other than possibly to join the BBC and MP in condemning the unwelcome results of the poll.