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    Friday, 22 April 2011

    Bias in the news

    Apologies for yet more politics; normal-ish service will be resumed shortly, I hope.

    I've just put the following into the "BBC News website feedback" form, but I doubt it will have any impact. Quoting it here for the record...

    The BBC news website appears to be showing a systemic bias over the AV referendum. For the last few weeks, there has been regular coverage of the referendum and it seems that there has been the usual blind adherence to "balance" - every story about AV has included some of the (incorrect, unscientific, even hate-filled) propaganda from the "no to AV" campaign without critique or analysis. It's difficult to see any justification for this except deliberate editorial bias, but I don't imagine that there's much that can be done about that.

    However, right now on the BBC News front page at I can see that there is a link "Referendum views" that points to yet another opinion piece from a "No" campaigner (Frederick Forsyth). I only see a single view here, not the plural "views" suggested. I don't see any positive view for AV promoted from the front page at all, nor any link from this puff piece to the other articles that have been written in the recent past. Looking further, I can see that there *has*, in fact, been a positive piece on the News Front Page today (from Billy Bragg) but there are no visible links to it any more. Both articles were posted/updated at the same time this morning (22nd April, 08:34 BST) yet now only the negative one remains. Very shoddy, and not at all what I would expect from the BBC.

    23:24 :: # :: /misc/politics :: 11 comments


            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bias in the news
            Anonymous wrote on Sun, 24 Apr 2011 04:39

            My example still holds if the Greens leave the Tory candidate unranked. But fair enough, in an elimination system you may want to leave unacceptable candidates entirely unranked. That doesn't let you express a preference among them, though.

            When you say "second-choice votes are likely to be reciprocal", you ignore the possibility that first-party voters will simply vote for their first-party candidate and ignore all others.

            Also, your comment about "50% of the vote" doesn't make it at all clear what you mean by that. Consider the following concrete example:

            49% of voters: Tory 25% of voters: Lib Dem 26% of voters: Green, Lib Dem

            In these results, IRV will first eliminate Lib Dem, then eliminate Green, and declare Tory the winner. However, it seems fairly clear from these results that Lib Dem should win, as 51% of voters would prefer Lib Dem to Tory.

            IRV claims to make third-parties more viable by allowing third-party voters to still express a preference between the two major parties, but if the third party ever actually *does* become viable then this situation arises. The results get even worse and more unpredictable when multiple third parties become viable.

            I've provided a concrete, plausible example where IRV produces a fairly self-evidently worse result than Condorcet, and arguably worse than FPTP since IRV more strongly encourages sincere third-party votes but breaks with viable third parties. Can you provide a concrete example where IRV does better than Condorcet? I've never seen such an example.


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